London: John Van Voorst, 1873. Large quarto, photographic frontispiece, 35 handcoloured plates by Keulemans. Contemporary green half morocco and marbled boards, top edge gilt, the uncoloured frontispiece chipped and slightly cut down, mounted on a stub, a few spots and three contemporary ink stamps (a signature stamp on the title page), a few preliminary spots, nonetheless a handsome crisp copy.
First edition, limited to 500 copies. Walter Buller, the son of a missionary, was born in New Zealand in 1838. He trained as a solicitor and showed himself to be extremely capable, amassing a considerable fortune. Towards the end of his life much of his time was spent in England where he died in 1905. His contribution to New Zealand ornithology is immense and his books are an evocative account of the destruction of an important and distinctive avifauna. A History of the Birds of New Zealand, in either edition is one of the best, and most underrated, of all nineteenth-century colour plate bird books.
Anker p. 85; Bagnall 755; Fine bird books (1990) p. 85; Mengel 428; Nissen IVB 163; Nissen SVB 83; Wood p. 269; Zimmer p. 115. See also Ross Galbreath, Walter Buller: the reluctant conservationist, 1989.
Price: $6,500.00 AU