GOULD, John (1804-1881). The Birds of Great Britain. London: Taylor and Francis for the Author, -1873.
5 volumes, large 2° (540 x 364mm). 5pp. subscribers' list. 367 fine hand-coloured lithographic plates, most heightened with gum-arabic, by Gould, Henry Constantine Richter, Joseph Wolf and William Hart, printed by Walter or Walter & Cohn, 2 wood-engraved illustrations. (Occasional very light spotting to some text pages and one plate.) Contemporary green morocco gilt, covers with multiple-fillet border, spine in six compartments with raised bands, lettered in the second, volume number in the third, the others with elaborate repeat pattern of..., gilt turn-ins (extremities rubbed, some minor scuffing to boards). Provenance: Edward Balston (1817-1891) Headmaster of Eton 1862-68, vicar of Bakewell and archdeacon of Derby, subscriber; on his death, the volumes passed to his nephew: -- Richard James Balston, High Sheriff of Kent 1894-95 (fly-leaf inscription).
SUBSCRIBER'S COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION of 'the most sumptuous and costly of British bird books' (Mullens and Swann). Gould was especially proud of this work, and it 'was seen - perhaps partly because its subject was British, as the culmination of [his] ... genius' (Isabella Tree. The Ruling Passion of John Gould. London: 1991, p.207). The text is, of course, longer than in any of his other works and the illustrations, many of them prepared from freshly killed specimes, include many more depictions of chicks, nests and eggs. Wolf, who drew 57 of the plates, had accompanied Gould on an ornithological tour of Scandinavia in 1856, and was responsible for persuading Gould and Richter to adopt a livelier treament of the illustrations. Sauer 23; Zimmer p.261; Fine Bird Books p.78; Wood p.365; Nissen IVB 372. (5)