GOULD, John (1804-1881). Handbook to the Birds of Australia. London : by the author, 1865.
2 volumes. 8vo., (9 2/8 x 5 6/8 inches). Half-titles. 2-page publisher's advertisement at the end of volume one. Fine contemporary green morocco gilt, all edges gilt.
Provenance: from the library of the Wadsworth Athenaeum, the gift of J. Pierpont Morgan in memory of his father, with an engraved bookplate commemorating the bequest on the front paste-down of each volume.
First edition, and an EXCEPTIONALLY FINE AND ATTRACTIVE SET.
Published 20 years after Gould's monumental eight-volume "Birds of Australia" in order to supply new information about subsequently discovered species: "It may be possible-and, indeed it is most likely-that flocks of Parakeets no longer fly over the houses and chase each other in the streets of Hobart Town and Adelaide, that no longer does the noble Bustard Stalk over the flats of the Upper Hunter, nor the Emus feed and breed on the Liverpool plains, as they did at that time; and if this be so, surely the Australians should at once bestir themselves to render protection to these and many other native birds: otherwise very many of them, like the fine Parrot (Nestor productus) of Norfolk Island, will soon become extinct" (Gould-Preface).
J. Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) was one most prominent financiers and most highly discriminating collectors and philanthropists in American history. Morgan purchased these volumes from Henry Sotheran & Co. on June 15, 1899 (who bought the entire stock of Gould's works and copyrights, and who with the help of Sharpe completed Gould's unfinished works), and subsequently donated them to the Wadsworth Athenaeum, in his hometown of Hartford Connecticut in the name of his father. The Wadsworth Athenaeum opened to the public in 1842 was the gift of Daniel Wadsworth, and is the first building in the United States erected entirely to the purposes of the arts. In 1892 Junius Morgan (1813-1890) and his son J. Pierpont Morgan generously donated $150,000. Pierpont Morgan continued the family association with the Wadsworth Athenaeum throughout his life not only with generous gifts of art and books but most substantially by funding a building as a memorial to his father on land adjacent to the Athenaeum between 1906 and 1912. Ayer/Zimmer, p. 262; Casey Wood, 365; Ferguson , 10031; Sauer, 25; Whittell, 295-6. Catalogued by Kate Hunter