The Birds of Burma (the rare first edition)
By Smythies, B. E.
Pp. xxix, 589, 31 color plates from paintings by Alan Hughs, large partly-colored folding map at rear. Publisher’s original dark green pebble cloth, lettered in gilt on the spine, 8vo. This is the very rare first edition which was issued in a print run of only 1000 copies just at the outbreak of WWII. The invading Japanese army seized much of the print run and had the books shipped to Tokyo – the Japanese judged the volume might be a “code-book.” In Japan, the books were housed at the Royal Veterinary College which was later destroyed in an air raid by American bombers. Very few copies survived this set of circumstances which makes the first edition of “The Birds of Burma” one of the rarest of 20th Century bird books. This copy was owned by Lieutenant General Donald Kenneth McLeod with his bookplate and signature on the front endpapers as well as the date he acquired the book, January 10, 1941. From 1938 to 1941 McLeod was GOC (General Officer Commanding) of Burma. Adjudged deficient in 'push and go' by Pownall, and 'a nice old gentleman' by Wavell in 1941, McLeod was dismissed from his command and returned to the UK; he retired from the army in 1942. In the UK, he was knighted and was made Honorary Sheriff Substitute for Inverness-shire from 1942 (from Wiki). Because this book was acquired by McLeod in 1941 shortly before his return to the UK, it was never exposed to the harsh tropical environment of Southeast Asia. Thus, the volume is remarkably well preserved. This volume is rare to begin with due to the Japanese seizure of much of the print run. This copy, with unique associations, is all the more rare. See also Ripley 269.
|Publisher||American Baptist Mission Press|
|Date Published Estimated||No|
|Number of Volumes||1|
|Condition Description||Light edge wear to cloth, a few faint spots on the front board; a tight, bright and clean copy in near fine condition.|