MATHEWS, Gregory Macalister (1876-1949). The Birds of Australia. Witherby & Co, 1910-1927; 1936.

$ 28,000.00

MATHEWS, Gregory Macalister (1876-1949). The Birds of Australia. Witherby & Co, 1910-1927.

12 volumes in 75 ORIGINAL PARTS, plus 5 supplements also in original parts, for a total of 80. Folio (14 x 10 inches). Half-titles, title-pages printed in red and black. 600 fine lithographed plates after J.G. Keulemans, H. Gronvold, R. Green, H. Goodchild, and G.E. Lodge with original hand-colour, heightened with gum arabic, one uncoloured lithograph.  FINE IN RARE AND ORIGINAL BLUE - GREY - GREEN PRINTED PAPER WRAPPERS  (some parts a bit frayed - see below).

[WITH]: A Supplement to the Birds of Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands to which is Added those Birds of New Zealand not figured by Buller. London: H.F. & G. Witherby, Ltd., 1936. Folio (14 x 10 inches). 24 (of 29) fine lithographed plates after J.G. Keulemans, H. Gronvold, R. Green, and F.W. Frohawk with original colour, heightened with gum arabic, 6 (of 28) uncoloured plates. 20th-century green cloth, gilt.

Provenance: from the library of Herbert Hedley Scott (1866-1938), museum curator, with his ownership inscription at the head of the front wrappers of volume III, IV, V (dated 1916), VI (dated 1917); with A.W. Birchall & Sons, Booksellers and Stationers, Launceston, Tasmania, with their neat bookseller's ticket on the front wrapper of several parts

First edition, number 184 of 225 copies printed. RARE IN THE ORIGINAL PARTS, including all supplements 1-5: comprising a 'Check List of the Birds of Australia' in 3 parts, and a 'Bibliography of the Birds of Australia' in 2 parts; and the supplement to the "Birds of Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands".

Mathews' monumental lifetime achievement recording Australian birds was based on John Gould's “The Birds of Australia” (1840-1869), and illustrates some 100 species not in Gould’s work. The principal artist was Grönvold although the best plates are probably by Keulemans who contributed 163 to the first four volumes; Roland Green and Herbert Goodchild provided the parrot plates in volume VI.      

Born in Australia Mathews sailed for England with his new wife in 1902, there he visited the British Museum and “conceived the idea of producing an exhaustive work on Australian birds. He met R. Bowdler Sharpe, keeper of the bird collection, who encouraged him and 'taught him how to work'. Once started on the huge undertaking, Mathews became fanatical. Sixteen-hour days were spent in research, writing, skin and book-collecting: he bought, exchanged or obtained by hired collectors 30,000 skins and amassed some 5000 books covering every aspect of ornithology but, 'essentially a bibliophile', he 'was not really interested in the living bird'. Correspondence sped between Australia and experts all over the world. The first volume of “The Birds of Australia” was published in London in 1910... The twelfth and final volume appeared in 1927. His other publications covered lists of Australian, New Zealand, Lord Howe and Norfolk Island birds, numerous articles and, with Iredale, one volume of a “Manual of the Birds of Australia” (London, 1921). In 1912 he established the “Austral Avian Record”, editing it throughout its fifteen years of existence” (Tess Kloot for ADNB). Mathews' own collection of birds forms part of the Rothschild Collections at Tring. Anker 328; Nissen IVB 605; Whittell pp.490-492; Wood p.454; Zimmer pp.419-421.

The original parts collate as follows:

Volume I. Parts I - 6: (14 x 10 inches). October 31st, 1910, 19 plates: January 31st, 1911, 14 plates; April 29th, 1911, 12 plates; August 9th, 1911, Cancellation notice for pages 183-184 of Part III printed in red and tipped-in at the beginning, 13 plates; October 31st, 1911, Advertisement for Part VI printed in red and tipped-in at the beginning, 9 plates and one uncolured illustration in the text; January 31st, 1912, Cancellation notice for pages 183 -184 of Part III printed in red and tipped-in at the beginning, preliminaries and index leaves bound at end. Original green/grey pictorial printed paper wrappers, uncut (edges a little frayed)

Volume II. Parts I - 5: May 30th, 1912, 14 plates; July 31st, 1912, 13 plates;  September 20th, 1912; 13 plates and many uncoloured illustrations in the text; November 1st, 1912, notice for the publication of Part V printed in red and tipped-in at the beginning, 13 plates and 2 pages of uncoloured illustrations; January 31st, 1913, 4 plates, preliminaries and index leaves bound in at end

Volume III. Parts 1 - 6: April 2nd, 1916, notice of six volumes to be printed printed in red and tipped-in at the beginning, 13 plates; May 2nd, 1913, 13 plates; August 18th, 16 plates; December 31st, 1913, 11 plates; March 26th, 1914, 12 plates; June 25th, 1914, 10 plates, preliminary and index leaves bound in at end

Volume IV. Parts 1 - 3: October 6th, 1914, 10 plates; February 17th, 1915, 14 plates; June 23rd, 1915, 10 plates, preliminary and index leaves bound in at end

Volume V. Parts 1 - 4: November 5th, 1915, 11 plates; February 29th, 1916, notice regarding the number of parts to volume V printed in red and tipped-in at the beginning, 10 plates, May 23rd, 1916, 12 plates; August 30th, 1916, 8 plates, preliminary and index leaves bound in at end (back strips worn away)

Volume VI. Parts 1 - 6: November 22nd, 1916, notice for the publication of Part VI printed in red and tipped-in at the beginning, 8 plates; February 6th, 1917, 8 plates (lacking back cover); April 17th, 1917, 9 plates; June 27th, 1917, 8 plates; September 11th, 1917, 9 plates; December 11th, 1917, 8 plates, preliminaries and index leaves

Volume VII. Parts 1 - 5: March 4th, 1918, 10 plates; May 15th, 1918, 8 plates; August 26th, 1918, 9 plates; December 19th, 1918, 11 plates (front wrapper detached); July 10th, 1919, 8 plates, preliminaries and index leaves

Volume VIII. Parts 1 - 5: May 5th, 1920, 6 plates; June 17th, 1920, 6 plates; August 18th, 1920, 7 plates; October 13th, 1920, 6 plates (bound without plate number 388; December 15th, 1920, 5 plates, preliminaries and index leaves

 Volume IX. Parts 1 - 9: February 15th, 1921, 6 plates (back wrapper waterstained); April 15th, 1921, 6 plates; June 20th, 1921, 6 plates (bound without plate 418, included in next part); October 19th, 1921, 7 plates; December 15th, 1921, 5 plates; February 15th, 1922, Notice to the Binder regarding plate 226 printed in red and tipped-in at the beginning, 7 plates; April 4th, 1922, 6 plates; May 22nd, 1922, 6 plates; August 3rd, 1922, 5 plates, preliminaries and index leaves

Volume X. Parts 1 - 7: September 28th, 1922, 6 plates; December 12th, 1922, 6 plates; January 30th, 1923, 6 plates; March 19th, 1923, 6 plates; April 24th, 1923, 6 plates; June 5th, 1923, 6 plates; July 26th, 1923, 1 plate, preliminaries and index leaves

Volume XI. Parts 1 - 9: October 8th, 1923, 6 plates (outer corner back wrapper torn with loss); November 21st, 1923, 6 plates; December 27th, 1923, 6 plates; February 20th, 1924, 6 plates; April 2nd, 1924, 6 plates; June 21st, 1924, 6 plates; July 31st, 1924, 6 plates; October 25th, 1924, 6 plates; December 22nd, 1924, 3 plates, preliminaries and index leaves

Volume XII. Parts 1 - 10: March 3rd, 1925, 6 plates; May 11th, 1925, 6 plates; June 22nd, 1925, 4 plates; August 31st, 1925, 6 plates; November 23rd, 1925, 7 plates; March 24th, 1926, 7 plates; June 28th, 1926, 6 plates; September 6th, 1926, 6 plates; December 9th, 1926, 6 plates; February 8th, 1927, 5 plates, corrections, appendix, preliminaries, limitation statement and index leaves (front hinge split).

Supplement No. I. The Birds of Australia... Check List of the Birds of Australia. Part 1. Orders Casuariiformes to Menuriformes. February 16th, 1920. Instructions to Binder printed in red and tipped in before the title-page (pale stain to front wrapper and title-page)

Supplement No. 2. The Birds of Australia... Check List of the Birds of Australia. Part 2. Order Passeriformes (Part). July 26th, 1923. Instructions to Binder printed in red and tipped in before the title-page. 

Supplement No. 3. The Birds of Australia... Check List of the Birds of Australia. Part 3. Order Passeriformes (Concluding Part). September 8th, 1924.

Supplement No. 4. The Birds of Australia... Bibliography of the Birds of Australia. Part I. Books used in the Preparation of this Work with a few Biographical details of Authors and Collectors. April 6th, 1925. Instructions to Binder printed in red and tipped in before the title-page. 

Supplement No. 5. The Birds of Australia... Bibliography of the Birds of Australia. Part 2. June 22nd, 1925. Instructions to Binder printed in red and tipped in before the title-page (pale stain to front cover).