John Gould (1804-1881) - Richard Bowdler SHARPE (1847-1909). London: Taylor and Francis for the author. 1850-1883. 7 volumes. Folio. Bound as issued with temporary title-pages to the first 6 volumes, and the main title-pages and preliminary leaves at the end of the final volume, including a list of subscribers, and lists of plates. 530 hand-coloured lithographed plates by Gould, H.C. Richter, Joseph Wolf, and W. Hart, printed by Hullmandel & Walton, T. Walter, or Walter &Cohn (some occasional light spotting). Contemporary red half morocco gilt (some covers affected by heat or hot wax). MOST COMPREHENSIVE STUDY OF ASIATIC BIRDS OF ITS TIME. "The Birds Of Asia" includes more than 500 magnificent portraits of brightly coloured exotic birds from all corners of the far east. Initially employed as a taxidermist [he was known as the 'bird-stuffer'] by the Zoological Society, Gould's fascination with birds from the east 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).