GOULD, John (1804-1881). The Birds of Australia. London: Richard and John E. Taylor for the author, -1848--Supplement. London: Taylor and Francis for the author, -1869.
8 volumes (including Supplement), 2° (542 x 362mm). 2-page subscribers' list. 681 hand-coloured lithographic plates by and after John and Elizabeth Gould, Henry Constantine Richter and Edward Lear, printed by Hullmandel, Hullmandel and Walton or Walter, 2 plates double-page, one plate double-page folding. (Occasional light spotting and browning, some very light offsetting, a few plates trimmed touching image.) Vols I-VII bound in contemporary green hard-grained morocco gilt by Clyde, boards with broad gilt borders of rolls and fillets, gilt board-edges, roll-tooled gilt turn-ins, spines gilt in compartments with double raised bands, lettered in two and with imprint at the feet, others with elaborate interlaced patterns of draw-handle and other tools within triple-fillet borders, yellow-glazed endpapers, gilt edges, Supplement uniformly bound [?by Clyde, after the main work], with variant roll-tooling on turn-ins (extremities a little rubbed and bumped, minor scuffing on boards). Provenance: Charles Butler (1822-1910, bookplate on upper pastedown of vol. I, acquired before 1870 (vide infra); sale of the first portion of his library, Sotheby's, 5 April 1911, lot 481).
A FINELY-BOUND SET OF GOULD'S MAJOR ORNITHOLOGICAL WORK WITH THE SUPPLEMENT: 'A TRULY MAGNIFICENT ACHIEVEMENT' (Wood). In the mid-1830s Gould was looking for a new subject with which to continue the momentum created by his earlier works; his interest was aroused by a series of specimens from Australasia (mainly supplied by his wife's emigrant brothers), and he began publication of The Birds of Australia, and the Adjacent Islands in 1837. However, before the publication of the second part in 1838, it had become clear to Gould that the only way that a work on Australian birds would succeed would be if he were to visit Australia personally. In May 1838 both he and his wife left on what was to be a two-year journey. While Gould explored Tasmania, New South Wales and the interior, Elizabeth stayed with acquaintances on the coast and produced over 600 drawings. Writing to Prince Charles Lucien Bonaparte, Gould stated that 'The interval spent from my native shores were some of the happiest days of my life ... The results of my journey cannot, I think, but be attended with great advantage to science'. On his return Gould announced his intention to re-start the publication anew, and requested subscribers to return the two parts of the original work. The resultant work was a great success, prompting a contemporary reviewer to acclaim it thus: 'Great as is the excellence of Mr. Gould's former publications, there can be no doubt that the present work exceeds them all' (Sauer).
This set is from the library of the bibliophile and art collector Charles Butler, who is listed in Gould's Prospectus of Mr. Gould's Works on Ornithology, etc. With a list of the subscribers and possessors [London: ?1870] on p. 15 as the owner of all of Gould's works published to date, except A Century of Birds from the Himalaya Mountains; although Butler is not listed as a subscriber, this set was probably acquired by him at or shortly after the date of publication and bound for him by Clyde (certainly it was sold in this binding after his death as a set of 8 volumes, indicating that Clyde also bound the unsigned Supplement, which uses the same tools as the main work). Anker 174 and 179; Fine Bird Books p.101; Nissen IVB 370; Sauer 9 and 18; Whittell pp.287-288; Wood p.365; Zimmer pp.255 and 259. (8)