19 November 2002
John Gould (1804-1881) & Nicholas Aylward Vigors (1787-1840)
A Century of Birds from the Himalaya Mountains. London: [for the Author, 1831]-1832. Large 2° (544 x 365mm). 80 hand-coloured lithographic plates by Elizabeth Gould after sketches by John Gould, printed by Charles Hullmandel. (Slight spotting to about 12 plates, most plates with original binding stab-holes visible at outer blank margins.) Near-contemporary green morocco gilt by Hering (one endpaper watermarked '1842'), covers with wide decorative border elaborately tooled in gilt, spine in six compartments with raised bands, lettered in the second and third, the others with elaborate repeat decoration in gilt, gilt turn-ins, gilt edges (very slight rubbing to extremities).
GOULD'S FIRST WORK, the first issue with the backgrounds uncoloured ("You will probably recollect that in my first work ... neither the plants or Backgrounds were coloured; In order to render the Series of my Publications complete ... I have had those parts coloured in the few copies I have left...." Gould to Lord Derby, letter dated 5 Feb. 1844). By 1825 Gould had moved to London to pursue his career as a taxidermist. In 1827, shortly after the foundation of the Zoological Society of London, he was appointed 'Curator [of Birds] and Preserver' at the Society's museum in Bruton Street. The present work came about as a result of this appointment: whilst working on a collection of bird specimens from the Himalayas Gould realised that they formed the first collection of any size from the area to reach Europe and that there would be a ready market for a large format work which included accurate descriptive text and plates. He persuaded his friend and mentor, N.A. Vigors, Secretary of the Zoological Society, to provide the text. For the plates he appears to have taken the contemporary or near-contemporary large format French works as his models. Working from her husband's sketches, Elizabeth Gould produced the plates using the relatively new technique of lithography. The work was enough of a financial success to persuade Gould to remain in a field which he was to dominate for the next fifty years. Sauer 1; Anker 168; Fine Bird Books (1990) p.101; Nissen IVB 374; Wood p.364; Zimmer p.251.
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