MALHERBE, Alfred (1804-1865). Monographie des Picidées ou histoire naturelle des picidés, picumninés, yuncinés ou torcols. Metz: Jules Verronnais, 1861-1862.
4 volumes. Folio (21 2/8 x 14 inches). 123 lithographed plates by A. Delehay, C. Mesnel, and P. Oudart, with original hand-colour in full (one or two pale stains). Contemporary half maroon morocco, marbled paper boards, gilt (some hinges broken, a bit scuffed).
Provenance: with the near contemporary ownership inscription of Henry Bryant (1820 – 1867) American ornithologist and physician, member of the Megatherium Club, and curator of the Boston Society of Natural History, on the title-page of each volume; with the bookplate of William Henry Phelps, Sr. (1875 – 1965), American ornithologist who lived in Venezuela, on the front paste-down of the first three volumes, his sale Sotheby's June 26, 1998, lot 595.
First edition, limited issue, each volume number 48 of 100 copies signed by the author, initially issued in twenty-five parts.
The most comprehensive and sumptuous book on woodpeckers of the time, with many new species identified and painted life-size. Malherbe, born in Mauritius, was a lawyer with a passion for bird-collecting. He became the director of the museum at Metz, where he lived, and president of the Société d’Histoire naturelle de la Moselle. Nissen IVB 587; Fine Bird Books, p.92; Anker 321; Wood, p.449; Zimmer, p.415