The Birds of Australia, John Gould, London, 1840-1869 Australia

Satin Bower Bird in John Gould Birds of Australia, Vol. 4 (n1-a.4): plate 10
Satin Bower Bird in John Gould Birds of Australia, Vol. 4 (n1-a.4): plate 10

Custodian: University of Glasgow Library Special Collections

Reference: Sp Coll n1-a.1-8

A landmark of Victorian ornithology, John Gould's The Birds of Australia originally appeared in 36 parts between 1840 and 1848. It is a massive work comprising 8 folio sized volumes that depict and describe all of the 681 Australian bird varieties then known, many of them recorded by Gould himself for the first time. The birds are illustrated by beautiful hand coloured lithographed plates.

Known as 'the Bird Man', John Gould (1804-1881) was both an outstanding naturalist and a highly successful businessman. Prodigious and single minded, he produced 15 major works (totalling nearly 50 folio volumes in all) containing some 3000 colour plates; these describe birds from all the main continents except Africa. He additionally wrote over 300 scientific articles and several smaller books. All in all, as a writer in the 'heyday' of natural history, he made a huge contribution to nineteenth century ornithology.

The original 7 volume set cost £115 and the University of Glasgow is listed in the first volume as being one of the original subscribers.

See the catalogue entry for the work here.

For more information about this work, see this 'Book of the Month' post here.