A monograph of the Nectariniidae, or family of sun-birds.
Item ID 71731
London, the author, 1876-1880. Large 4to (31.2 x 24.5 cm). Title page, cviii, 389 pp.; printed binders instructions; 121 hand-coloured lithographed plates by and after J. G. Keulemans, often heightened with gum arabic. Contemporary full morocco. Spine with five raised, gilt-lined bands, compartments with gilt vignettes and title; boards with gilt ornamental borders, and circular "daisy wheel" centre and corner pieces, gilt lined edge and gilt inner morocco borders with gilt ornamental lines by Morley of Oxford. Marbled endpapers. All edges gilt. A gorgeous binding, containing the ultimate monograph of the sun birds, a group reminiscent of the American hummingbirds, but from the Old World tropics. "Many are brightly coloured, often with iridescent feathers, particularly in the males. Many species also have especially long tail feathers. Their range extends through most of Africa to the Middle East, South Asia, South-east Asia and southern China, to Indonesia, New Guinea and northern Australia. Species diversity is highest in equatorial regions" (Wikipedia). The author, George Ernest Shelley (1840-1910) was a British ornithologist and geologist. He was a nephew of Percy Bysshe Shelley, and saw poetry in the endless variation in plumage colours and patterns. The wonderful plates are by John Gerrard Keulemans (1842-1912), arguably the best bird illustrator of his time. Except for the mildly foxed notes for the binder (not always present) internally a spotless copy. The plates are wonderfully clean and bright. The best copy we have ever seen. Nissen IVB, 873; Sitwell, Fine Bird Books , p. 142; Zimmer, p. 588. Not in Anker, as this rare book is not present in the library of the Copenhagen University.