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Mivart, S. G. [J.]

A monograph of the lories, or brush-tongued parrots, composing the family Loriidae.

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London, R. H. Porter, 1896. Large 4to (31.5 x 25.3 cm). Title page, liii, 194 pp. [1-193, 24A]; four chromolithographed maps, 61 hand-coloured lithographed plates heightened with gum arabic; 19 groups of text figures. Original brown morocco with gilt lines and title on the front board and spine. Bevelled edges. Top edge gilt.

A magnificent monograph - in a very seldom-seen original binding in excellent state - entirely devoted to the small and colourful arboreal parrots known as lories, which occur in the forests of tropical Australasia. They possess a specialized brush-tipped tongue adapted to eating soft fruits and nectar. Several new lory species are described and illustrated here for the first time. The author, St. George Jackson Mivart (1827-1900) was a British biologist and early supporter of Darwin's theory of natural selection. Later in life he abandoned his support because he could not reconcile it with his Roman Catholicism (to which he converted when 17). Still later he brought himself into conflict with the Catholic Church too. "Six weeks before his death he was excommunicated" (DSB). Even after his death he remained controversial: "After his death, a long final struggle took place between his friends and the church authorities. On 6 April 1900, his remains were deposited in Catacomb Z beneath the Dissenters' Chapel, in the unconsecrated ground of the Dissenters' Section of the General Cemetery of All Souls, Kensal Green, in a public vault reserved for 'temporary deposits' (most of which were destined for repatriation to mainland Europe or the Americas). His remains were finally transferred to St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery, Kensal Green, on 16 January 1904, for burial there on 18 January 1904." (Wikipedia). His work on the lories, however, stood the test of time and is still regarded as a highly valuable contribution to ornithology. The fine illustrations ("excellent", according to Zimmer) are all by the renowned bird painter John Gerrard Keulemans (1842-1912). Some toning from a small, low-grade paper sheet once inserted before page 131, otherwise a spotlessly clean copy. Very rare in this extraordinary state. DSB vol. 9, p. 428; Nissen IVB, 640; Sitwell, p. 125; Zimmer, p. 439. Not in Anker (that is: not present in the Copenhagen University Library).

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