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), large folio (540 x 360 mm). 2-page subscribers' list. 681 hand-colored lithographic plates by and after John and Elizabeth Gould, Henry Constantine Richter and Edward Lear, printed by Hullmandel, Hullmandel and Walton or Walter (3 plates double-page). (Very occasional pale spotting or offsetting, otherwise fine.) Uniformly bound in contemporary brown morocco, wide gilt borders on sides, spines in 6 compartments with 5 raised bands gilt-lettered in 2, turn-ins gilt, edges gilt (some very minor rubbing). Provenance: Chandos Leigh, 1st Baron Leigh (1791-1850), British poet and author (Stoneleigh Abbey armorial bookplates).
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 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: “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).
As a result of the work of Gould and his associates, over 300 new species of birds inhabiting Australia were identified. Gould explored South Australia, New South Wales, Bass’s Straits and Tasmania in his two years on the continent. To date, The Birds of Australia remains one of the most comprehensive ornithological works highlighting the species of that continent.
A SUPERB COPY WITH FINE CONTEMPORARY PROVENANCE. This set is from the library of Stoneleigh Abbey. Though not included on the subscriber’s list, poet Chandos Leigh was an associate of Gould’s and a listed subscriber to his other works, according to Sauer’s list of associates and subscribers. Anker/Copenhagen 174 and 179; Ayer/Zimmer pp.255 and 259; Fine Bird Books p.101; Nissen IVB 370; Sauer 9 and 18; Whittell pp.287-288; Wood p.365.