DRESSER, Henry Eeles (1838-1915)
A History of the Birds of Europe, including all the species inhabiting the Western Palaearctic Region
London: by the Author, 1871-1896. Large 4to, nine volumes, including index (Volume I) and supplement (Volume IX). (12 5/8 x 9 3/4 inches). 5pp. list of subscribers, additional wood-engraved title to each volume. 723 lithographed plates (721 hand-coloured, 2 uncoloured plates, as issued), after John Gerrard Keulemans (678 plates), Joseph Wolf, Archibald Thorburn and Edward Neale, printed by M. & N. Hanhart, Walter or the Mintern Brothers, the colouring by Smith or William Mathew Hart.
Contemporary red morocco gilt
A definitive work of ornithology, wonderfully illustrated with hand coloured plates by Keulemans and other noted bird artists.
First edition of a work which forms a comprehensive record of the birds of the entire Western Palaearctic Region. This region is defined by Dresser in the introduction as comprising "the whole of continental Europe to the Ural range, Scandinavia, Spitzbergen, the British Isles, Iceland, the Faeroes, the Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Isles, a comparatively narrow strip of North Africa, reaching to the border of the desert, Asia Minor (excluding the Jordan valley, which is essentially Ethiopia), and the Caucasus." It had been fifty years since the publication of Gould's The Birds of Europe, and the significant ornithological research conducted in the interim required a systematic and accurate new work. Dresser based this monumental work on his collection of 12,000 specimens, collected not only by himself but by a large network of colleagues across the continent.
The plates include work from three of the greatest bird artists of their age: Wolf, Keulemans and Thorburn, but the majority are by John Gerrard Keulemans (1842-1912). The over 650 images he produced for this work rank as one of his greatest ornithological achievements.
The work was originally issued in 84 parts, without consecutive numbering to text or numbering to plates. The lengthy publication period and the issuance in parts without regard to subject matter and without numbering, has led to many incomplete sets: the present set, however, is complete.
Anker 120; Balis 111; Fine Bird Books (1990), p. 92; Mullens & Swann 179; Nissen IVB 267; Zimmer p.177.