SCLATER, Philip Lutley (1829-1913)
A Monograph of the Jacamars and the Puff-Birds, or Families Galbulidae and Bucconidae
London: printed by Taylor & Francis, published for the Author by R.H. Porter, October 1879-July 1882. 7 parts in one volume, royal quarto. (12 3/8 x 9 7/8 inches). 1p. list of subscribers, letterpress title with wood-engraved vignette. 55 hand-coloured lithographic plates by John Gerrard Keulemans, printed by Hanhart. With the original parts front wrappers bound in the rear.
Early red half morocco and red pebble-grained cloth-covered boards, spine in six compartments with raised bands, ruled in gilt on either side of each band, lettered in gilt in the second and fourth compartments
First edition of this beautifully-illustrated monograph, limited to 250 copies, with plates by Keulemans: "the major bird book illustrator" of his time (Jackson).
John Gerrard Keulemans (1842-1912) is described by Christine Jackson as "the major bird book illustrator for 30 years at the end of the 19th century" (Dictionary of Bird Artists of the World, 1999, p.314), and an artist who "worked to a consistently high standard." This is certainly true of the excellent illustrations in the present work. Every species is carefully depicted against a naturalistic background, with the plumage precisely indicated and beautifully coloured. Sclater notes in the preface that "The Jacamars and Puff-birds formed the subject of some of my earliest studies in Ornithology. Of the former of these families I published a Synopsis in 1852, of the latter in 1856. Since those dates I have not failed to add to my series of examples of both groups whenever the opportunity has presented itself. Assisted by the additional materials thus acquired, and by the excellent collection of the birds... in the cabinets of my friends Salvin and Godman ... it has been a great pleasure to me to go over former ground and ... to give a complete account of what is as yet known of the Jacamars and Puff-birds." The work was issued in seven parts by Sclater, each part priced at one guinea. The size of the work was intended to be uniform with Dresser's Birds of Europe, Sharpe's Kingfishers, Marshall's Barbets, and Shelley's Sun-birds. The Jacamars and Puffbirds are insect-eating birds, natives of the Caribbean, central and south America, and are apparently related to the trogons and woodpeckers. They inhabit the dense tropical forest, and can usually be seen sitting motionless on trees from which they fly out to catch insects on the wing, then return to crack them on a branch before eating them.
Anker 451; Fine Bird Books (1990), p.106; Nissen IVB 840; Wood, p.558; Zimmer, p.561.