A Monograph of the Nectariniidae, or Family of Sunbirds
By Shelley, George Ernest
Pp. i-cviii, 1-393; 121 hand-colored lithographs by Keulemans, each heightened with gum Arabic. Contemporary one-half Victorian-red morocco over scarlet red cloth boards, spine with five raised bands, lettered in gilt in two compartments and with elaborate gilt floral decorations in the other four compartments, the title and author are lettered in gilt on the front board, top page edge in gilt, contemporary red marbled endpapers, lg 4to (13 x 10.25 inches; 33 x 25.5 cm). “An excellent monograph of an interesting family of birds, with descriptions in Latin and English, critical notes, and discussions of habits, etc., from accounts by many different observers. A total of 138 species of the group are recognized, of which all but one are figured on excellent, hand-colored plates" (Zimmer, Ayer, p. 588). This work was limited to 250 copies only. In the preface, Shelley acknowledges the importance of Keuleman's contribution of the fine color plates: "The illustrations which form such an important portion of my Monograph, have all been executed by Mr. Keulemans, whose name is sufficient guarantee for the accuracy of the details and for high artistic skill. The latter is rendered perhaps more striking from his being acquainted with this family of birds in their native haunts; and his notes upon the sun-birds inhabiting Prince's Island have been incorporated in my work." The sunbirds are small, slender passerines from the Old World, usually with downward-curved bills. Many are brightly colored, often with iridescent feathers, particularly in the males. Most sunbirds feed largely on nectar, but will also eat insects and spiders (modified after Wiki). This monograph describes two new genera and ten new species. The work originally appeared in twelve parts from July 1876 to February 1880. See also Nissen, IVB, 873; Casey Wood, p. 566; Fine Bird Books (1990), p. 142. No ownership marks; an early owner of this book states it came from David Bannerman’s library.
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|Light scattered foxing to the blank endpapers only, margin of inside corner missing from one text page; the fine binding, the text and hand-colored plates are all very bright and clean with no signs of use; an extraordinary copy in fine condition.