The Birds of Australia.
London, Witherby & Co., 1910-1927. 13 volumes. 4to (350 x 255mm). With 600 hand-coloured lithographed plates after and by Keulemans, Grönvold, R. Green, H. Goodchild and G.E. Lodge, and 1 plain plate. Contemporary brown half morocco, spines in 6 compartments with gilt lines and lettering, topedges gilt.
A large copy, and a very fine uniformly bound set in the best possible condition. First edition of the first major treatment of Australian birds since Gould's work, and one of the last significant works to be illustrated with handcoloured lithographs. The editon was limited to 225 copies only. Gregory Macalister Mathews (1876-1949) was born at Biamble, Castlereagh River, New South Wales. Over a period of 40 years he made an extensive study of Australian birds and was assisted by T. Iredale who was his secretary. "An enormous amount of information is contained in these volumes, in which the literature concerned and the question of nomenclature are fully treated. Under each genus synonyms, a brief diagnosis, a discription, and a key to the species are given, while under each form we find a detailed synomyny, information about distribution and as far as posssible, a description of the adult male, the adult female, the immature bird, and the nestling; the eggs and the nests are also described, and the breedings-months stated. Then follows an account of the habits and life-history of the birds, including long quotations from the literature" (Anker p. 163). "Time was also running out for J.G. Keulemans but not before he had started on Mathew's monumental work, 'The Birds of Australia', one of the most important ornithological treatises ever published... Keulemans completed 163 illustrations for the first four volumes before he died on the 29th of March 1912" (Keulemans & Coldewey, Feathers to Brush p. 27). The supplements and the 'Bibliography of the birds of Australia' are bound in the last volume. Copies in such pristine condition are rare. Zimmer 419; Nissen IVB, 605; Anker 328.
Item nr. 9183
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