GOULD, John (1804-1881) and H.C. RICHTER
Notornis Mantelli [Takahe]
[London: by the Author, 1869]. Hand-coloured lithograph by J. Gould and H.C.Richter, printed by Hullmandel & Walton in 'The Birds of Australia Supplement'. Sheet: 21 1/4 x 28 inches. Separation at center fold has been expertly repaired.
A fine image from John Gould's major ornithological achievement 'The Birds of Australia'.
This large addition Gould's 'Birds of Australia' appeared in the 1869 Supplement, which included birds of New Zealand. This flightless rail known as
Notornis or Takahe on its native South Island was thought to be extinct. Its fossil remains had been studied and classified by Professor Owen, but a living specimen was found by Dr. Walter Mantell. The species continues to exist.
John Gould, accompanied by his wife Elizabeth, left Britain for Australia in May 1838 for what was to be a two year exploration of the birds and animals of the region. The natural history of the continent had not been studied in any detail before Gould's arrival and the abundant and highly varied bird life was to prove an inspiration to him, and between 1840 and 1869 he published what is his undoubted masterpiece: "The Birds of Australia".
Gould wrote of his time in Australia '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... Independently of a great new number of Birds I succeeded in procuring the nests and eggs of at least two thirds of the species inhabiting that interesting region'.
Gould, Handbook of the Birds of Australia , vol. II; Cf. Fine Bird Books (1990), p.102; cf. Nissen IVB 370; cf. Sauer 9 & 18; cf. Zimmer p.255 & 259.