Friday 1 October 2021

Natural History: Birds

Freeman and Wertheimer note that this is the second of a five-volume set of little natural histories for young people; the others being Mammalia, Reptiles, Fishes and Mollusca. (See the previous Gosserie blog.)

In 1860, the publisher (Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge) requested Gosse to revise the work and it was ordered to be reprinted.

The undated edition is the revised work. The book in my collection is the edition dated 1849, and is therefore to be acknowledged as a first edition.

The book is full of woodcut illustrations, with Gosse himself contributing the most by far.

Some of the woodcuts contain the names of Whimper (pp. 25, 34, 71, 88, 110, 145, 153, 165, 201, 214, 221, 228, 232, 257, 306, 321) and S. Read (p. 137). Two of them, the green tody (p. 41) and the long-tailed humming bird, are redrawn from Illustrations of the birds of Jamaica. 

The book in my collection has a case of dark purply-brown morocco, with blind ornamental frames on both boards.

Details to the back of the title page and on the rear end paper inform us that the printer was S. & J. Bentley, Wilson & Fley, Bangor House, Shoe Lane, London.

The woodcuts are far too numerous to be reproduced here in their entirety. A selection of Gosse's own work is shown below.

© John Dunn.