ELLIOT, Daniel Giraud (1835-1915). A Monograph of the Paradiseidae, or Birds of Paradise. [London]: by the Author, 1873.
Folio (23 4/8 x 19 inches). One uncoloured lithograph and 36 EXCEPTIONALLY FINE lithographed plates with original hand-colour in full, heightened with gum arabic and occasionally with metallic pigment (one or two marginal thumb prints). Modern half green morocco, gilt.
ELLIOT'S GREAT WORK ON THE BIRDS OF PARADISE, ONE OF THE MOST ADMIRED BIRD BOOKS EVER PRODUCED.
'The plates in this work, almost as magnificent as the birds they portray, were the fruits of Elliot's considerable wealth, Wolf's great artistry and both men's profound knowledge and love of birds' (Dance).
Elliot writes of the illustrations: 'The drawings of Mr. Wolf will, I am sure, receive the admiration of those who see them; for, like all that artist's productions, they cannot be surpassed, if equalled, at the present time. Mr. J. Smit has lithographed the drawings with his usual conscientious fidelity, and in his share of the work has left me nothing to desire... In the colouring of the plates Mr. J.D. White has faithfully followed the originals; and in the difficult portions where it was necessary to produce the metallic hues, he has been very successful'.
Elliot regards 'brightly coloured waving plumes' as a typical characteristic rather than an indispensable feature of this beautiful species which are presented in three sub-families, Paradiseae, containing the typical Birds of Paradise and their allies, Epimachinae, those species 'characterised by long, slender, somewhat curved bills', and Tectonarchinae, 'species that are in the habit of erecting bowers'.The work is dedicated to Alfred Russel Wallace, to whom Elliot expresses his indebtedness 'for nearly all our information regarding the habits of many species'.
Daniel Giraud Elliot was born in New York, but later moved to Chicago to serve as Curator of Zoology at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. His great wealth and interest in ornithology enabled the production of a series of sumptuous color-plate books on birds, long after most publishers had turned to smaller formats and cheaper coloring techniques. Elliot commissioned the best bird artists of the day including Joseph Wolf , Josef Smit, and in the case of the Hornbills, the celebrated Keulemans. Anker 131; Dance, The Art of Natural History, p. 132; Fine Bird Books (1990) p. 95; Nissen IVB 296; Wood p. 331; Zimmer p. 207. Catalogued by Kate Hunter