GOULD, John (1804-1881)
The Mammals of Australia
London: Taylor and Francis for the Author, -1863. 3 volumes, large folio. (21 1/4 x 14 1/2 inches). 182 hand-colored lithographic plates, most heightened with gum-arabic, by Gould and Henry Constantine Richter, printed by Hullmandel & Walton.
Contemporary full green morocco, covers with wide gilt border, spine with raised bands in six compartments, lettered in the second and fourth, the others with a repeat overall decoration in gilt, yellow endpapers, gilt edges
A lovely set of the first edition of Gould's famous work on the mammals of Australia.
John Gould's three-volume folio work on the Australian mammals is one of his finest works and perhaps the most engaging of all colourplate Australian natural history books. "It was not until I arrived in [Australia]," he writes in the Preface, " and found myself surrounded by objects as strange as if I had been transported to another planet, that I conceived the idea of devoting a portion of my attention to the mammalian class of its extraordinary fauna." The publication of this magnificent book, with some of the finest depictions of mammals ever produced, for the first time gave the world accurate descriptions and illustrations of Australia's extraordinary mammals.
In many instances he was the first to record Australian mammals, some now extinct. As Sauer has pointed out, Gould was prophetic on this eventuality, and Gould's comments on the Tasmanian Tiger, Thylacinus cynocephalus, are poignant: "When the comparatively small island of Tasmania becomes more densely populated, and its primitive forests intersected with roads from the eastern to the western coast, the numbers of this singular animal will speedily diminish, extermination will have its full sway, and it will then, like the Wolf in England and Scotland, be recorded as an animal of the past." The last Thylacine died in Hobart Zoo in 1936.
Originally published in 13 parts between 1840 and 1863, Gould's work represents his only serious foray away from the world of birds and into that of mammals. The work, with its beautifully hand coloured plates, represents one of the first concerted efforts to record the extraordinary fauna of Australia. "This was one of the most important works ever attempted by Gould, and he has often told me that he considered that he deserved more praise for bringing out this work than for any other that he attempted, because he did it for the love of science only, knowing well that it could never be remunerative" (Sharpe, Analytical Index to the Works, p. xviii).
A lovely set, with beautifully coloured plates, in contemporary green morocco gilt bindings.
Wood, p. 365; Nissen ZBI 1661; Ferguson 10032; Sauer 14.