SHARPE, Richard Bowdler (1847-1909). Monograph of the Paradiseidae, or Birds of Paradise, and Ptilonorhynchidae, or Bower-birds. London: Taylor and Francis (text) and Mintern Brothers (plates) for Henry Sotheran & Co., 1891-1898.
2 volumes in 8 original parts, large 2° (563 x 383mm). Letterpress titles, preface, introduction, text, appendix, lists of contents and lists of plates, small format 'Binding Notice' to subscribers tipped in at the front of the final part. 79 hand-coloured lithographic plates by W.Hart, after his own work and John Gould and J. G. Keulemans, 13 uncoloured illustrations in the text. (Final plates in part II and first plate in part VIII spotted, some soiling to third plate in part IV, occasional light spotting to text leaves.) Original dark blue cloth-backed grey paper-covered pictorial boards, letterpress titling on upper cover beneath a large wood-engraved vignette illustration (parts III and IV disbound, some small tears to spines, spine of part III torn with loss, covers soiled). Provenance: John Gyerman? (bookplate in parts III and IV).
A FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION IN THE RARE ORIGINAL PARTS OF THIS 'EXCELLENT MONOGRAPH' (Zimmer). The striking life-size plates led Sitwell to call Sharpe's monograph 'the last of the fine bird books' (Fine Bird Books p. 107). Sharpe had appealed for subscribers for a proposed monograph on 'the Avifauna of Paupasia' in his preface to John Gould's Birds of New Guinea, which Sharpe had completed after Gould's death in 1881. The response to his appeal was clearly enthusiastic, for only three years later, the first part of the Paradiseidae was published. Some of the plates are printed from the stones used in the Birds of New Guinea, but 'a great number of the species are here figured for the first time', according to Sharpe's preface. BM(NH) IV,p.1910; Fine Bird Books (1990) p.142; Nissen IVB 865; Wood p.656 ('a splendid monograph'); Zimmer p.581. (8)