first edition, 5 volumes, folio (546 x 370mm.), 367 hand-coloured lithographed plates from drawings by Gould, Joseph Wolf, H.C. Richter, and W. Hart, mostly lithographed by Richter and Hart, list of subscribers, lists of plates, contemporary green morocco gilt by Zaehnsdorf, spine gilt in compartments, gilt edges, scarlet bullfinch in volume 3 a bit spotted, binding rubbed at edges
Fine Bird Books, p.102; Nissen IVB 371; Sauer 23; Wood, p.365; Zimmer p.261
a fine copy. "such beautiful illustrations as those of the birds of great britain scarcely existed before and are not likely to be surpassed" (R. Bowdler Sharpe). The work was issued in twenty-five parts and from the outset was well received, as was reflected in the unusually large number of subscribers. Gould stresses its difference from the earlier Birds of Europe in the treatment of the illustrations, the inclusion of figures of young birds and nests, and the more extensive text. In his preface, Gould commented on the colouring of the plates: "Many of the public are quite unaware how the colouring of these large plates is accomplished; and not a few believe that they are produced by some mechanical process or by chromo-lithography. This, however, is not the case; every sky with its varied tints and every feather of each bird were coloured by hand; and when it is considered that nearly two hundred and eighty thousand illustrations in the present work have been so treated, it will most likely cause some astonishment to those who give the subject a thought". Elsewhere he remarked upon employing "almost all the colourists in London".
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