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Engraved Prints - Lithography
Botanicals - Ornithology

Great Blue Heron

John James Audubon (1785-1851). The birds of America: from drawings made in the United States and their territories. New York: J.J. Audubon and Philadelphia: J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. 7 volumes.

Audubon's fame rests upon the "elephant folio" colored engravings produced in England between 1827 and 1838, but his fortune was made by this smaller, less expensive edition that he published in the United States. This octavo edition contains hand-colored lithographic versions of the earlier prints, the work of Philadelphia lithographer J. T. Bowen. Along with the images are Audubon's written accounts of the birds and their behavior, originally published as the 5-volume Ornithological Biography during the 1830s as a companion to the folio plates. Audubon, the son of a French Haitian planter, began drawing American birds as an avocation soon after coming to North America and taking up residence at Mill Grove, near Philadelphia, in 1803. He continued studying and drawing birds while operating a series of unsuccessful businesses in Kentucky, but by 1820 he was devoting all of his energies to exploring the American wilderness in search of birds. His first-hand knowledge of the birds is evident in his drawings, which show the birds in action, rather than in the stiff, posed forms typical of earlier illustrators.

Barn Owl

Penelopides Daniel Giraud Elliot (1835-1915). A monograph of the Bucerotidae: or family of the hornbills. London: Published for the subscribers by the author, 1882.

Elliott, the pre-eminent American ornithologist of the late 19th century, was a wealthy man who used his fortune to support the collection of exotic bird species and the publication of elaborate illustrated bird books, such as this one on hornbills. Elliott wrote text and underwrote the publication, while the artwork was done by John Gerrard Keulemans (1842-1912). Keulemans was born and trained in the Netherlands, but spent most of career in England where he was one of the most highly regarded and prolific natural history artists. His paintings for this book, as with most of his work, were based on preserved specimens rather than live birds. The book contains 60 hand-colored lithographic plates, and was originally issued in ten parts between 1877 and 1882

Tockus hemprichii


John Gould (1804-1881). A synopsis of the birds of Australia, and the adjacent islands. London: Published by the author, 1837-1838.

The most prolific publisher of illustrated bird books in the 19th century was John Gould, a gardener, taxidermist, and amateur ornithologist who was appointed Curator and Preserver at the newly formed Zoological Society of London in 1827. Gould's first book, A century of birds from the Himalaya Mountains, was inspired by a collection of bird skins donated to the Society. When this book proved to be a success, his career was launched. Over the following half-century he was responsible for publishing more than 40 large-format illustrated bird books, containing nearly 3000 lithograph prints.

Gould began A synopsis of the birds of Australia after receiving a collection of specimens from his wife's brothers, who had recently emigrated to New South Wales. After producing this introductory octavo volume on Australian birds, Gould and his wife traveled to the continent to observe, draw and collect more specimens. The result was his most famous work, the 7-volume, 600 plate Birds of Australia.

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Calothorax Mulsanti

John Gould (1804-1881). A monograph of the Trochilidae, or family of humming birds. London: Printed by Taylor and Francis, published by the author, 1851.

Most of Gould's large-format illustrated works were issued in parts, rather than as complete books. Each part contained a small number of plates, along with the accompanying descriptions. Once the work was completed, it would be up to the individual subscriber to have the entire work bound together. The Castle Collection contains only Part II of the hummingbird volume, with 15 plates. The image at left, of the Calothorax Mulsanti, is from this part. Gould issued 25 parts with 360 plates between 1849 and 1861, followed by a supplement in the 1880s.

John Gould (1804-1881). Supplement to the first edition of a monograph of the Ramphastidae, or family of toucans. London: published by the author, 1855.

Gould's original Monograph of the Ramphastidae, or family of toucans, was published in the mid-1830s with 33 lithographic plates. He produced a second edition with 55 plates in the early 1850s, followed by this separate volume containing only the 22 new plates.

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Short-Billed Toucan

Muscipeta Brevirostris

John Gould (1804-1881). A century of birds from the Himalaya Mountains. London: published by the author, 1832.

This is Gould's first book, made possible by the donation of a large collection of Himalayan birds to the Zoological Society of London. Gould was the organizer and designer of the work, and drew the original sketches from which the final drawings were made. The final artwork, though, was done by his wife, Elizabeth Coxen Gould, and the text was largely written by Nicholas Aylward Vigors, the first secretary of the Society.

Edward Lear (1812-1888). Illustrations of the family of Psittacidae, or parrots: the greater part of the species hitherto unfigured, containing forty-two lithographic plates, drawn from life, and on stone. London: E. Lear, 1832.

Lear is best remembered today for his limericks and nonsense poetry, most notably The Owl and the Pussycat, but he started his career as an artist who pioneered the use of lithography to produce natural history illustrations. At the age of 18 he began working as an artist at the Zoological Society of London, where he was encouraged to make drawings of the collection of live parrots housed there. Of the hundreds of bird drawings he made, he converted forty-two to lithographic plates and issued them in a series of parts before abandoning the project. Lear's Parrots was greeted with such enthusiasm, though, that it encouraged John Gould to pursue his project on the birds of the Himalayas. Lear also worked on a number of Gould's projects before giving up natural history painting in the late 1830s because of poor eyesight.

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Macrocercus Ararauna


Prideaux John Selby (1788-1867). Plates to Selby's Illustrations of British Ornithology. London: Bohn, 1841. 2 volumes.

Selby's extra-large bird prints are often thought of as the British equivalent to Audubon's Birds of America. Like Audubon in America, Selby aimed to create a comprehensive guide to the birds of Great Britain, featuring illustrations that showed the birds life-sized and in their natural habitats. Selby, a gentleman farmer and amateur naturalist, did both the original paintings and most of the engravings himself. The plates were originally published between 1821 and 1834 by William Lizars, the printer who was originally commissioned to print Audubon's work. The Castle Collection holds the second edition of the prints, issued in 1841 by Henry Bohn of London.


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