“NO OTHER ORNITHOLOGIST HAS EVER EXCEEDED THE MAGNITUDE AND SPLENDOR OF HIS FOLIO PUBLICATIONS”: GOULD’S MONOGRAPH OF THE PITTIDAE, WITH 10 HAND-COLORED PLATES
GOULD, John. Monograph of the Pittidae [Tropical Birds]. London: by the Author, 1880. Two parts in one, Part I with plates and text, Part II text only, all published. Large folio (15-1/2 by 22-1/2 inches), original half green cloth, original green printed boards. $22,000.
First edition of this lovely Gould monograph, with ten beautiful hand-colored plates, in original printed boards as issued.
The Pittidae is a family of brilliantly colored and thrush-like insectivorous birds, mostly limited to the subtropical and tropical forests of Asia, Indonesia and Australia. "In the field of natural history the accomplishments of this man [John Gould] are truly monumental. No other ornithologist has ever exceeded (or will ever exceed) the number of Gould's bird discoveries and the magnitude and splendor of his folio publications" (Sauer, John Gould, the Bird Man, xv). "Lithography which introduced a greater freedom of line and softer tones than had hitherto been known was ideally suited as a medium for bird pictures, the finished prints resembling watercolors with the birds set in their natural habitats often amongst plants and flowers. Gould was meticulous about accuracy both in design and coloring" (Nissen, IVB 381). "The 10 hand-colored lithographs are mostly taken from the Birds of Asia, Birds of Australia, and Birds of New Guinea" (Sitwell, 102). Originally projected for completion in four parts, the Pittidae was abandoned after Gould's death. No title page or preliminary letterpress was issued; the title is taken from the front cover. The present copy includes the ten leaves of text written by R.B. Sharpe (each leaf signed "[R.B.S.]") for the uncompleted second part. Zimmer, 263. Fine Bird Books 102. McGill/Wood 365. Nissen IVB 377. Armorial bookplate of Edward Hilton Young, first Baron Kennet of the Dene, British politician and writer (1879-1960).
Endpapers foxed, first plate only with several pinpoint spots, a few plates gently toned, coloring fine and vivid, original boards lightly rubbed at extremities. An extremely good copy, with lovely plates in excellent condition.