Robert's Bird Plates Auction

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Subject: Robert's Bird Plates Auction
From: Trevor Hardaker <>
Date: Thu, 27 Sep 2001 14:01:42 +0200
Hi there,

I have been asked to forward this on behalf of Guy Gibbon.


Hello all

The auction of the plates from Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa sixth
edition is now on-line at

Please note that the plates are far larger and more attractive
(brighter) than in the book, ranging in size from 51x37cm to 80x60cm.
The plates have a reserve price of R1000, with popular plates drawing
bids of R3000 already. However, there are still many that have yet to
receive a bid.

The proceeds obviously go to a good cause, specifically publication of
Roberts 7, which is going to be a major handbook for Southern Africa.

Some background.
Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa was first published in 1940. Now in
its sixth edition, the book has been known to generations of birders
simply as Roberts, and has been one of South Africa's publishing success
stories. Preparations for the seventh edition are well under way, and in
order to raise funds for the project, the plates of the current sixth
edition are to be offered to the public in an auction. This is a unique
opportunity to own part of Southern Africa's natural history heritage,
and the first time that such an offer has been made to the public.

The book was originally published as The Birds of South Africa, and the
original author was Dr Austin Roberts. Born in Pretoria in 1883, Roberts
grew up in Potchefstroom, where he developed a passion for natural
history. In 1910 he joined the Transvaal Museum, where he worked for 38
years until his death in 1948. Although Roberts did not have a formal
university education, his work was recognised by his peers, and he was
awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Pretoria in 1935. His
life's work culminated in publication of The Birds of South Africa in
1940, and The Mammals of South Africa which was published posthumously
in 1951.

Publication of The Birds of South Africa was initiated by The South
African Bird Book Fund, which was established in 1934 for this
purpose. Continued publication and revision of the book has since been
maintained by the Fund, which was later renamed the John Voelcker Bird
Book Fund after its initiator. The first revision of the book, by Drs
G.R. McLachlan and R. Liversidge, adopted the name Roberts Birds of
South Africa, and was published in 1957. Subsequent revisions by these
two authors appeared in 1968 and 1978. The most recent revisions,
Roberts 5 (1985) and Roberts 6 (1993), were by Professor Gordon Maclean.
In 1997 Roberts became the first southern African bird reference to be
published on cd-rom, as Roberts' Multimedia Birds of Southern Africa.
The forthcoming Roberts 7 will be a major revision, converting Roberts
into a significant handbook. The work was begun in 1998, with
publication anticipated for early 2003.

The original illustrations, painted by Norman Lighton in 1936 to 1939,
were retained until the fourth edition in 1978, when 31 plates by
Kenneth Newman were included. By the fifth edition of 1985, all the
plates had been replaced with illustrations by Kenneth Newman and Geoff
Lockwood, who are today well-known southern African bird artists and
authors. These plates, currently found in Roberts 6, are those that will
be on auction.


Guy Gibbon
Southern African Birding cc
Tel/fax: 031-2665948
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