I recall about 40 years ago, at a meeting of the Nature
Conservation Ministers of Australia, a Senior Officer from the Northern
Territory, telling me that he had sold an Albert Namitjara (spelling?)
painting in order to buy a set of Gould's Birds of Australia which had come
on the market. Don't know what the price was, but horrendous, I'm sure.
And it's probable that broken up, a set would bring even more. Many years
ago, an Art Gallery here in Brisbane, was selling the individual plates of a
set. I happen to have a special affection for the White-browed Scrub-wren,
a modest little bird of dull plumage. Thought the Gould painting might not
be too expensive. But found that (because it was not very remarkable?)
Gould had put a lot more background vegetation into the painting than usual,
and it was one of more expensive ones. Forgotten what now but up around a
thousand dollars or more - just for that one plate. More than I could
I haven't tried to weigh them, but I can tell you that a Volume of Gould's
Birds of Australia measures 54.5 X 38 cm, and a full set makes a stack 29 cm
high. And he published many volumes of birds apart from that set.
Back in the early 1990's Hill House Publishers, Licencee for the Libraries
of the British Museum (Natural History) put out a limited facsimile edition
of a number of Gould's works and including all the Birds of Australia, which
is where I got mine. Doesn't have the huge monetary value of the original,
but does provide the text and the plates in their original form. And may
even have a slight advantage of more durable paper.
> From: brian fleming <>
> Date: Fri, 26 Mar 2010 18:34:33 +1100
> To: Graeme Stevens <>,
> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] John Gould`s Birds of Australia -
> It is indeed a shame when these remarkable volumes are broken up.
> They are certainly unwieldy and very heavy; you need a sloped desk to
> read them on comfortably. One nineteenth century owner complained that
> he needed to have a boy to carry them about for him. It has been
> claimed that a complete set of all Gould's volumes would weigh a ton...
> But whenever one has the chance to see the volumes as books, take it!
> Anthea Fleming
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