The Mammals of Australia. 3 vols (complete and all published).
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London: Published by the Author and Printed by Taylor and Francis 1863. Three folio volumes uniformly bound in half dark green morocco. Spines with raised bands and decoratively gilt in 7 compartments. Top edge gilt and other edges uncut. Marbled endpapers. Complete with 182 hand-coloured lithographic plates with accompanying descriptive letterpress text. Some light foxing/spotting as is usual. Contemporary bookplates of amateur ornithologist John Arthur Brooke (1844-1920) and the name labels of James Fairfax on front fly-leaves. A fine and complete first edition set of Gould's only non-ornithological treatise. John Gould (1804-1881) started his career as a gardener (his father was a head garderner at Windsor Castle) before moving into taxidermy. He set up his own taxidermy buisness in London in 1825. King George IV was one of his customers. In 1828 Gould was employed as a taxidermist by the Zoological Society of London and a few years later was put in charge of the Society's ornithological collections. A skiled naturalist Gould was also a talented publisher who became known for his tremendous plate books with their superb hand-coloured lithographs. A Century of Birds from the Himalaya Mountains (1831-1832) with plates by his wife Elizabeth Gould was his first publication conceived of after the society received a collection of birds from the Himalayas (Oxford DNB 2004). Gould was roused into visiting Australia after receiving specimens from his brothers-in-law who had immigrated to New South Wales. Along with this wife and naturalist John Gilbert Gould set sail for Australia in May 1838. With the aid of Indigenous guides he spent eighteen months conducting fieldwork and collecting hundreds of zoological as well as botanical specimens. He began issuing the work for which he is most renowned his 36-part The Birds of Australia (1840-1848) soon after his return to England in 1840. The Mammals of Australia was issued in 13 parts (3 volumes) between 1845 and 1863 and was dedicated to the recently deceased Prince Consort Albert. Gould conceived of Mammals of Australia as a companion work to his BIrds of Australia (1840-1848) (dedicated to Queen Victoria) when upon his arrival in Australia he 'found (himself) surrounded by objects as strange as if I had been transported to another planet" (Preface p. vii). Neither the birds nor the mammals of the recently colonised land had received deserved attention from the scientific community so Gould (Preface p. vii). Ultimately Gould was to become 'the pioneer naturalist of Australia' (Oxford DNB). As a record of the known mammalian species of Australia soon after British colonisation a number of which were described and figured by Gould for the first time (Preface p. viii) Gould's Mammals is also a poignant reminder of the many species now extinct or endangered. He notes the inevitable extermination of Tasmania's Thylacine due to the steady encroachment on its habitat and the bounty placed on its head (see Vol. I 60 61). The 182 glorious hand-coloured plates were executed by artist Henry C. Richter and considered the most beautiful illustrations of mammals ever produced. Complete sets of this exquisitely beautiful as well as scientifically valuable publication are rare as many have been broken up for the plates.
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