The Mammals of Australia. John GOULD.
The Mammals of Australia.

The Mammals of Australia.

London: Published by the Author; Printed by Taylor and Francis, Red Line Court, Fleet Street, 1863.

Three volumes, imperial folio, with 182 finely hand-coloured lithographed plates finished with gum arabic; with only very little of the usual foxing; uniform original full green morocco binding, spines richly gilt, all edges gilt; a beautiful set.

Splendid set in the handsome original Gould binding

One of the most appealing of all Australian illustrated books. The 182 glorious hand-coloured plates designed by John Gould and his wife Elizabeth and mainly executed by Henry C. Richter are widely considered the most beautiful illustrations of mammals ever produced. Complete sets of this glorious as well as scientifically valuable publication are rare, as many have been broken up for the plates.

One of the most appealing of all Australian illustrated books. The 182 glorious hand-coloured plates designed by John Gould and his wife Elizabeth and mainly executed by Henry C. Richter are widely considered the most beautiful illustrations of mammals ever produced. Complete sets of this glorious as well as scientifically valuable publication are rare, as many have been broken up for the plates.

Gould set out for a lengthy expedition to Australia in 1838 to collect material for a comprehensive publication on the continent's birds. He and his family spent nineteen months in Australia, observing bird and mammal life in the wild and collecting some eight hundred bird specimens, seventy quadrupeds and the nests and eggs of more than seventy species of birds, making notes on them and their habitats. Once enough material had been collected to begin The Birds of Australia, the Gould family returned to London in April 1840.

In 1844, once his mammoth publication of Australian birds was well under way, Gould wrote to Prince Lucien Bonaparte: 'My present intention is to follow it up with a general history of the mammals of Australia of which I have lately received a surprising number of new species… Gilbert, who is still collecting for me, is on the Darling Downs… and I have no doubt he will reap a rich harvest in this new field for his exertions'. 'If the Birds of Australia had not received that degree of attention from the scientific ornithologist which their interest demanded, I can assert, without fear of contradiction, that its highly curious and interesting Mammals have been still less investigated' (Preface, p. vii).

The Mammals is one of the finest of all Gould's folios; it is also the most visually stunning natural history of Australian animals ever issued. This set, in its handsome original full green morocco and gilt binding, is particularly desirable.

John Gould (1804-1881), who ultimately would become 'the pioneer naturalist of Australia' (DNB), had been keenly aware of the business potential of natural history from an early age. While only fourteen and still an apprentice to the head gardener at the royal gardens at Windsor, he was selling stuffed birds to the students at Eton College. Within the next seven years he was operating a taxidermy business in London, being listed as 'a bird and beast stuffer' in the London Directory for 1832-4. The following year he appeared in the directory as 'a naturalist'. He began travelling widely throughout Europe, buying and selling specimens, and became increasingly sought-after as a taxidermist - even receiving a royal commission to stuff King George IV's pet giraffe.

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Casey Wood, 365; Ferguson, 10032; Nissen ZBI, 1661; Sauer, 14.

Condition Report: In fine condition throughout.

Price (AUD): $145,000.00

US$100,364.61   Other currencies

Ref: #5000657

Condition Report