New Zealand Antique Prints
& Rare Books

The On-line

Prints may also be seen at:

New Zealand Birds’
(The Greytown Gallery)

65 Wood Street
Post Office Box 146
Greytown, 5742
New Zealand

Mobile: +64 (0)27 508 5078

John GOULD  (1804–1881)

In 1871 John Gould began the publication of a work in five volumes folio, on the Birds of New Guinea and adjacent islands, to be issued in twenty-five parts. At the time of Gould's death, in 1881, only twelve of the parts had been issued, the thirteen remaining parts having been prepared by Mr. R. Bowdler Sharpe, the eminent ornithologist in charge of the Department of Birds at the British Museum. The work contains 320 plates, in the excellent style of Gould's other well-known large folio works on the Birds of Asia, Australia, Great Britain, etc. The 'Introduction,' by Mr. Sharpe, gives a historical summary of ornithological exploration in New Guinea and the Papuasian Islands.

With no formal education Gould commenced his working life at the age of 13, following in his father’s footsteps as a garden hand. A self–taught taxidermist, he was from an early age fascinated by nature in general and ornithology in particular.

At the age of 21 he set up his own taxidermy business in London, and in the London Directory for 1832–4, was listed as “a bird and beast stuffer”. The following year he appeared in the directory as “a naturalist”.

This was a time of world exploration and thousands of exotic and unknown animals were arriving in London as expeditions brought collections home. These specimens, for the most part dead and preserved, though with the occasional live animal, were bought on arrival by taxidermists, collectors and dealers in skins. They were prepared and then sold on to museums and private collections.

There was a craze for natural history and John Gould was in the perfect position to become an important player.

In 1828 Gould accepted the position of Curator and Preserver to the Museum of the Zoological Society of London, at a salary of £100 per annum. At the same time he continued his private taxidermy business, acted as advisor to national institutions and travelled widely in England and on the Continent, buying and selling specimens.

John Gould, Zosterops brunneicauda

$500.00 USD
(includes shipping)


Zosterops brunneicauda

Price: US$500.00 (includes shipping costs)

LINK to LARGER image

This original hand colored lithograph is from John Gould’s Birds of New Guinea (1875–88).

Artist:  W. Hart del et lith.

Paper size: 14 1/2 X 21 1/4 inches (Imperial Folio).

Mintern Bros., Imp.

Condition: excellent.
Text: No text included.

In 1829 Gould married Elizabeth Coxen, a governess and competent artist. In 1830 he published his first scientific paper. Three hundred more were to follow, many of them illustrated. Shortly after their marriage the Goulds began their magnificent publishing enterprise.

Over a period of fifty years, John Gould and his artists produced 14 titles in 49 volumes published in Imperial Folio format. Each bird or mammal was illustrated by a large, hand coloured lithograph — an amazing total of 2,999 individual plates. In addition there were several smaller books, each lavishly illustrated.

Following the traditional marketing strategy for such volumes, Gould’s books came out in parts; each part consisting of a number of hand coloured plates with Gould’s accompanying text dealing with each plate. Each part was issued in cardboard covers, the subscriber being responsible for the binding of the complete set when all parts had been received. Consequently, as each set was bound to the instructions of its owner, there is no “common” binding for any one title.

Gould’s advance publicity and prospectus was most successful. “Gould’s subscribers included 107 libraries, clubs and institutions, and no less than 12 Monarchs, 11 Royal Highnesses, 16 Dukes, 6 Marquises, 30 Earls, 5 Counts, 31 Honorables, 61 Baronets and one Bishop.”

William Hart, one of Gould’s many artists, was a colourer of plates and he continued this occupation while drawing and lithographing for Gould. He coloured the artist and lithographer H.C. Richter’s plates for the Hummingbirds, using lavish metallic paints. As artist and lithographer he worked on The Birds of Great Britain, The Birds of Asia, The Birds of New Guinea, A monograph of the Pittidae, the 2nd edition of A monograph of the Trogonidae, or the Trogons, and the supplement of A monograph of the Trochilidae, or family of Hummingbirds.


Taken from preparations by Carol Cantrell as the basis for a talk to be presented to The Australian Museum Society on 21 and 23 April 1998.

Please use this link to a more comprehensive article about John Gould.