John Gould’s Monograph of the Trogonidae to Auction
From lowly beginnings, John Gould (1804-1881) became the most celebrated British ornithologist of the 19th century, contributing enormously to ornithology and evolutionary science whilst amassing a personal fortune through his self-published and now highly prized folios. Having worked first as a gardener, and then as a taxidermist, Gould went on to publish an extraordinary 41 folios with over 3,000 plates, as well as writing numerous scientific papers. Gould would study, describe, and sketch the birds, before having his wife or later other artists such as Henry Constantine Richter, William Matthew Hart and Edward Lear complete the hand-coloured lithographs to his exact specifications. The illustrations were beautifully and carefully executed, artistic yet naturalistic depictions of birds set amongst appropriate foliage.
The sale also features a beautifully illuminated late medieval prayer book (estimate £2,000-3,000). Measuring just 10cm high, the prayer book in Latin script is thought to have been made in the 14th or 15th century, possibly in Holland. It was once in the ‘Valuable and Extensive Library’ of George Dunn of Woolley Hall, which was dispersed in three auctions at Sotheby’s between 1913 and 1915.
Other highlights include:
* an album of early engravings, woodcuts and original artwork depicting the towns, castles, houses, monasteries and inhabitants of the Austrian Empire (estimate £2,000-4,000), possibly compiled in the late 17th century, with illustrations thought to date from the 16th century onwards - an early bookseller’s catalogue entry pasted in the front describes it as ‘A Noble Old Scrapbook’.
* an album documenting the Eastern Front in the Second World War (estimate £300-500) entitled SS Polizei Panzergrenadier Division-4, Luga 1941. It is thought to have been compiled by Hauptsturmfuhrer Rieskogel, who appears in a photograph at the front of the album in SS dress uniform with Iron Cross and General Assault Badge. The album contains a wide variety of photographs of the army in convoy, at camp, military burials, battle scenes and soldiers receiving medical attention along with hand-drawn and coloured maps of the Luga area.
* a small family collection of manuscript books featuring:
- A Private Calendar contains detailed diary entries from January 1795 to September 1802 (estimate: £150-250) by Stephen Wilson, a silk manufacturer in London.
- In the Days of Old. A Quaker Child, by Granny, written by Isabella Tylor (née Harris) for her grandchildren in 1893 is an illustrated volume details her childhood in Stoke Newington, then a leafy village amongst the fields. Containing original watercolours, a birth certificate, photographs and family inscriptions (estimate £300-500).
- a volume of manuscript memoirs of wounded soldiers at St. Mary’s War Hospital, Reigate between 1915 and 1916 (estimate: £150-250). Freda Meryon Chance, a volunteer at St. Mary’s Red Cross Hospital, encouraged the patients in her care to write accounts of their personal experiences in her notebook. There are 32 contributions, with several detailing action at the front and the circumstances which gave rise to their injuries and several drawings.