BULLER, Walter Lawry, 1838-1906; KEULEMANS, John Gerrard, 1842-1912
A history of the birds of New Zealand (with supplement).
Scarce large format second edition (with supplement) of an acclaimed ornithological work, illustrated by J.G. Keulemans.
London : the author, 1888 – 1905. Second edition. The History (1888) : thirteen parts, bound in two volumes, quarto, contemporary half crushed morocco over pebbled cloth by R. H. Porter, spines in compartments lettered in gilt, top edges gilt, marbled endpapers (with the armorial bookplates of Gilmour of London and Montrave and also C. J. Coldewey), vol. I pp. lxxxiv; 250; [vi]; vol. II pp. xv; 359 (four leaves of the introduction bound in duplicate at rear), the original paper wrappers for the individual parts bound in at rear of each volume, containing in total 48 chromolithograph plates by J. G. Keulemans. The Supplement (1905) : two volumes, quarto, bound to match, contemporary half crushed morocco over cloth, spines in compartments lettered in gilt, marbled endpapers, vol. I : engraved frontispiece portrait of Buller, pp. l; 200; vol. II pp. [iv]; 178, the original paper wrappers for the individual parts bound in at rear of each volume, containing in total 12 chromolithograph plates by J. G. Keulemans. A fine complete set with all parts and supplements, finely bound preserving the original wrappers.
Sir Walter Lawry Buller was born at the Wesleyan mission, Newark, at Pakanae in the Hokianga in 1838, the son of Methodist missionary Rev. James Buller. In 1854 the family moved to Wellington where he was befriended by naturalist William Swainson. Buller trained as a lawyer but is best known for his contribution to ornithology in New Zealand. The first edition of A history of the birds of New Zealand, published in 1873, won Buller much critical acclaim, including from Charles Darwin, and for it he was awarded the CMG in 1875. ‘It has been remarked by a celebrated naturalist that “New Zealand is the most interesting ornithological province in the world … It has been the author’s desire to collect and place on record a complete life-history of these birds before their final extirpation’ (prospectus to the first edition). The second edition of 1888 is even more ambitious in scope; “The book itself is on a larger scale, being Imperial instead of Royal quarto, and the plates, instead of being handcoloured lithographs, have been produced by the more costly but more exact and satisfactory process of printing in colours’. These chromolithographs are some of the finest of the late nineteenth century. At the conclusion of the list of subscribers of the first edition is a statement that 1000 copies are printed, although it is known that over 250 were lost in a shipwreck. The supplements were printed in an edition of 500 making complete sets of the History and Supplement uncommon, especially presented in matching period bindings as here
Bagnall, 757 and 758; Nissen IVB, 163; Nissen SVB, 83; Casey Wood, p. 269; Zimmer, p. 115.