GOULD, John (1804-1881). Monograph of the Trogonidae, or Family of Trogons. London: Richard and John E. Taylor, for the author, 1858-1875.
Folio. 47 hand-colored lithographs after John Gould, H.C. Richter, and W. Hart. 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.
Second edition, revised and expanded, originally published in three parts ?1836-1838. This new edition contains 11 new plates not included in the first edition. Gould's second monograph in which he introduces 12 species new to science. Trogons (and Quetzels) mostly inhabit tropical rain forests and get their name from the Greek ('Trogon') word for nibbling, referring to the way in which they gnaw holes in trees to make their nests.
Purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan, one of the most highly discriminating collectors in American history, 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 it to the Wadsworth Athenaeum in the name of his father.
Initially employed as a taxidermist [he was known as the 'bird-stuffer'] by the Zoological Society, Gould's fascination with birds began in the "late 1820s [when] a collection of birds from the Himalayan mountains arrived at the Society's museum and Gould conceived the idea of publishing a volume of imperial folio sized hand-coloured lithographs of the eighty species, with figures of a hundred birds (A Century of Birds Hitherto Unfigured from the Himalaya Mountains, 1830-32).
Gould's friend and mentor N. A. Vigors supplied the text. Elizabeth Gould made the drawings and transferred them to the large lithographic stones. Having failed to find a publisher, Gould undertook to publish the work himself; it appeared in twenty monthly parts, four plates to a part, and was completed ahead of schedule. "With this volume Gould initiated a format of publishing that he was to continue for the next fifty years, although for future works he was to write his own text. Eventually fifty imperial folio volumes were published on the birds of the world, except Africa, and on the mammals of Australia-he always had a number of works in progress at the same time. Several smaller volumes, the majority not illustrated, were published, and he also presented more than 300 scientific papers. "His hand-coloured lithographic plates, more than 3300 in total, are called 'Gould plates'. Although he did not paint the final illustrations, this description is largely correct: he was the collector (especially in Australia) or purchaser of the specimens, the taxonomist, the publisher, the agent, and the distributor of the parts or volumes. He never claimed he was the artist for these plates, but repeatedly wrote of the 'rough sketches' he made from which, with reference to the specimens, his artists painted the finished drawings. The design and natural arrangement of the birds on the plates was due to the genius of John Gould, and a Gould plate has a distinctive beauty and quality. His wife was his first artist. She was followed by Edward Lear, Henry Constantine Richter, William Matthew Hart, and Joseph Wolf" (Gordon C. Sauer for DNB). AN EXCEPTIONALLY FINE SET. Anker 171; "Fine Bird Books" (1990) p.101; Nissen 381; Sauer 4; Zimmer p. 253. 000098