SHAW, George (1751-1813). Zoology of New Holland, by George Shaw... The figures by James Sowerby. London: printed by J. Davis, published by J. Sowerby, to be had at no.42, Paternoster Row, and of the town and country booksellers, [1793-]1794[-?1795].
Volume I (all published), 4° (296 x 228mm). Half-title, title, pp.1-33 text, p. blank. 12 hand-coloured etched plates by Sowerby. (Expert repair to lower inner corner of plate 3, plates 1, 3, 4 and 8 slightly spotted or browned.) 20th-century red morocco gilt, covers with ruled border with stylised swan tool at corners, spine in three unequal compartments, lettered in gilt in the second, modern purple cloth box, blue morocco title label on upper cover.
THE VERY RARE FIRST EDITION OF THE FIRST ILLUSTRATED WORK DEVOTED ENTIRELY TO AUSTRALIAN ZOOLOGY. Three other copies of this work are listed as having sold at auction in the past twenty-five years: two copies bound with Smith's A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland, and the Bradley Martin copy of this work on its own. The plates include 3 marsupials, a fish, a crustacean and 2 reptiles, but 5 are of birds and include three species that are probably first described in this work: the embroidered merops (Merops phrygius), the antarctic pigeon (Columba antarctica) and the spotted-shouldered thrush (Turdus puctatus). The work was evidently issued in parts (the earliest imprint date on the plates is 1 August 1793, and the latest 1 November 1794), intially with what James Edward Smith's A Specimen of Botany of New Holland (see lot 516), but the two parts quickly split into two separate works. In 1788, with Smith, Shaw was one of the founding members of the Linnean Society and was made one of its vice-presidents. The following year he was elected F.R.S., and two years later became assistant keeper of the natural history collections at the British Museum. His best known works are probably his General Zoology published in 14 volumes between 1800 and 1826, and, with Frederick Nodder, The Naturalist's Miscelleny (1789-1813) in 24 volumes. BM(NH) VIII, p.1183 (imperfect); Cottrell 17; Ferguson I, 196; Fine Bird Books (1990) p.142; Mathews 124; Mullens & Swann 53; Nissen ZBI 3838; Whittell 665; Wood p.566 ('this must be an extremely rare work').