Contemporaries and Rivals, I: Prideaux John Selby
Selby, Prideaux John, 1788-1867.
Ornithology, vol. V. Pigeons
in Sir William Jardine, ed., The Naturalist's Library, Edinburgh: W.H.Lizars, 1835.
--Selby is best-known for the massive life-size plates of British birds in his Illustrations of British ornithology (London: Bohn, 1821), one of the models for Audubon's series, which is also in the Thomas Cooper library collection. Shown here is his more modestly-scaled book on pigeons, from Jardine's Naturalist's Library, with lithographs by Edward Lear (and one by the French artist Pretre). The Magnificent Fruit-Pigeon, from eastern Australia, had first been described by the French naturalist Temminck.
Contemporaries and Rivals, II: William Swainson
Swainson, William, 1789-1855,
"Garrulus Stelleri: Steller's Jay," plate 54, vol. 2 , in Richardson, Swainson and Kirby,
Fauna boreali-americana; or, The zoology of the northern parts of British America: containing descriptions of the objects of natural history collected on the late northern land expedition, under command of Captain Sir John Franklin, R.N. . . . Published under the authority of the Right Honourable the secretary of state for colonial affairs.
4 vols. London: John Murray, 1829-37. South Carolina College, contemporary calf.
--Swainson, after service in the Royal Navy commissariat, had traveled in Brazil with Henry Koster. Back in London, he learnt lithography, and began a new career as a zoological author and illustrator. When John Richardson returned from Franklin's expedition, Swainson arranged the specimens for the ornithology volume, wrote some of the text, and drew the designs for the plates (lithographs colored by hand). This was the first illustrated zoological publication subsidized by the British government.
Swainson and the Naturalist's Library
Swainson, William, 1789-1855,
"Crimson Crowned Weaver," pl.13,
The Natural History of the Birds of Western Africa.
The Naturalist's Library. Ornithology, vol. VII. Edinburgh: W.H.Lizars, 1837.
--Swainson's work became known to a wide public through the volumes he contributed to this multi-volume series edited by Sir William Jardine. The Edinburgh scientific publisher Lizars had been the original engraver for Audubon's Birds of America.
Contemporaries and Rivals, III: John Gould
Gould, John, 1804-1881.
Plate 34, "Tanagra Darwini,"
in Charles Darwin, ed., The Zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, under the command of Captain Fitzroy, R.N., during the years 1832 to 1836: Published with the approval of the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury. Part 2. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1841.
South Carolina College, contemporary calf.
--Just as Richardson had used Swainson, Charles Darwin parceled out to specialists the specimens from his momentous voyage with H.M.S. Beagle. Gould started his scientific career as a taxidermist for the Zoological Society, and got his start as an ornithologist processing a huge new collection of Himalayan bird-skins. His early bird-sketches were transferred to lithographic stone by his wife Elizabeth, with aid from the young artist Edward Lear, and Gould always relied on others for the illustrations that bore his name. By Darwin's return, the various publication-series Gould master-minded had already established his name at the forefront of ornithological record. Gould's early work on the Himalayan birds would be followed by major series (echoing Audubon in their titles) on Birds of Europe (1832-37), Birds of Australia (from 1840), Birds of Asia(1850-83), Birds of Great Britain (1862-73), and Birds of New Guinea (1875-88).
John Gould's Birds of Great Britain in parts
Gould, John, 1804-1881, and Richter, Henry Constantine,
"Coracias Garrula: Roller" and "Turdus Musicus: Thrush,"
from Gould, The Birds of Great Britain, no. 9 (London: the Author, August 1st 1866).
Donated by Mr. N. Heyward Clarkson, Jr.
--Like Audubon's Birds of America, Gould's series The Birds of Great Britain was originally published in 25 parts, two each year from 1862-1873. Each regular part, costing three guineas, provided fifteen handcolored lithographs and accompanying text. It was Gould's most successful series; 486 subscribers are listed in Gould's Introduction, published at the conclusion of the series in 1873. H.C. Richter had taken over as the main artist for Gould's various projects following the death of Elizabeth Gould in 1841.