Octavo, single sheet 22.5cm by 18cm, holograph letter in ink in the entire hand of John Latham. Original folds, some slight loss and tear.
An excellent holograph letter in which Latham discusses the "publication of my long intended new work on birds" [A General History of Birds, 1821-1828].
Medical practitioner John Latham (1740-1837) "was a man born at the right time, with the appropriate qualities to perform an onerous task. He determined to describe all known species of birds and to record the discoveries of new species as they occurred, at a time when the number of discoveries was increasing at an accelerating pace, for fifty years he was the chief recorder of the world" (Jackson p. 136). Thus, Latham's great works, the General Synopsis and the General History, coincided with exciting discoveries from the New World. Both works are central to Australian ornithology with over 450 species described. The General History lists most species known at that time, many as first descriptions, and at least 16 Australian birds are figured. Many of the species included were later listed by Vigors and Horsfield in their classic paper on the taxonomy of Australian birds published 1827.
Price: $850.00 AU