John Gould Bird Prints Birds of Australia 1849-1883

Plotus Novae-Hollandiae
GA24 $550

We are delighted to offer these superb ORIGINAL hand-colored lithographs from The Birds of Australia, published from 1849-1883. John Gould is widely regarded as the father of Australian ornithology, and The Birds of Australia vies with The Birds of Great Britain for the title of the greatest of his eighteen major works. It depicts all the 681 bird varieties then known in Australia—many of them first recorded by Gould himself. Of the seven-volume work, 250 sets were printed, with an initial subscription of 160 later rising to 250, with the edition almost fully subscribed despite the high price of £115 per set. A complete set of this work set sold in 1989 for $495,000.

In May of 1838, Gould embarked to Australia to begin this monumental endeavor in the company of his wife Elizabeth, their eldest child Henry, the collector John Gilbert, a nephew and two servants, leaving in England the three youngest children. Another son, Franklin Thomas, was born in Hobart in 1839 and named for Sir John and Lady Franklin whose hospitality the Goulds enjoyed.

They were much feted during their sojourn in Australia & the perceptive Lady Franklin observed that Gould was very conscious of his importance to the world of ornithology and his standing in the community as “social lion.”

Nevertheless, social obligations aside, it was a busy time. Gould, John Gilbert, who was to remain in Australia to continue collecting on a retainer of 100 pounds plus expenses, & two Australians, Natty & Gemmy collected 800 bird specimens, 70 quadrupeds and the nests and eggs of more than 70 species of birds and their skeletons. On his return to England in 1840 Gould imported the budgerigar or grass parakeet which remains a popular pet there to this very day.

Much can be credited to his wife Elizabeth, who embraced all his goals & ambitions ardently, producing 84 plates for The Birds of Australia. Edward Lear contributed one, Waterhouse Hawkins contributed one and the remaining 595 plates were produced by H.C. Richter. Subscribers to The Birds of Australia had to wait over eight years (eighteen for the Supplement) before they could bind the seven volumes, as the titles, lists of plates and introduction were delivered with the last of the plates.

After the premature death of Elizabeth at the age of 37 in 1841, four days after the birth of her sixth child & Lear’s departure, Gould embarked on a new partnership with Richter. The great success of their first collaboration, Birds of Australia (1849-1883) encouraged Gould to embark on 'The Birds of Great Britain’ (1862-1873). Birds of Asia was started in 1850 & completed by Sharpe after Gould’s death at the age of 1881.

References: Fine Bird Books: p.102, Bird Artists of the World, p. 259; National Library of Australia Web Site:

These beautiful prints from Birds of Australia have never been bound into volumes, surviving as bound fascicles with immaculate provenance from the collection of Lord Kennet of the Dene, with his bookplate & motto “Be Right & Persist.”

Each print measures approximately 15" by 22” & is in impeccable condition with brilliant color. The original text & a copy of the title binding will be provided, along with a copy of the bookplate of Lord Kennet. As one of only 250 original sets, many of which are now in museums, there are now very few of these beautiful prints available on the market for the discerning collector of, so it is with great pleasure we offer them for your enjoyment.

Cost: $550

We accept credit cards, PayPal, checks, and money orders. Washington state residents pay Washington state sales tax. Shipping for this item is $13.95. International shipping is $30.00. Items can be combined to save on postage. Our environment is smoke free. We pack professionally using only new materials. All items are beautifully wrapped and suitable for sending directly as gifts. You may return any item within 7 days if not satisfied. To order, you may call us, fill out the order form or email.


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