SHARPE, Richard Bowdler.

Monograph of the paradiseidae or the birds of paradise


Monograph of the paradiseidae or the birds of paradise
and ptilonorhynchidae or bower-birds.
London, Sotheran and Co., 1891-98,

In stock


Richard Bowdler Sharpe (1847-1909) a bird enthusiast since boyhood began his career with London booksellers W.H. Smith and later Bernard Quaritch. In 1867 he became the first librarian of the Zoological Society of London. It wasn’t until the 1868-1871 publication of his Monograph of the kingfishers with 125 plates by Keulemans that Sharpe first rose to prominence as an ornithologist.

Sharpe enjoyed a longstanding acquaintance with John Gould. Indeed when Gould died in 1881 Sharpe dedicated himself to completing a number of Gould’s unfinished works including Birds of New Guinea (1875-1888). As noted in the appendix to the present work Gould had intended following the completion of that work which treated almost every species of the birds of paradise then known to publish a complete monograph on the Paradiseidae for which purpose he had retained the lithographic stones. As Sharpe explains in the Preface the present work contains some plates reproduced from Gould’s Birds of New Guinea though a great many appear for the very first time.

Sitwell in his Great Bird Books describes this as ‘indeed the last of the Great Bird Books’. A brilliant and highly decorative representation of these beautiful birds. The most complete record of the genus to date as many new species were discovered following Elliot’s work in the mid-nineteenth century.


2 vols, large folio, 79 handcoloured lithographed plates by J. Gould, W. Hart and J.G. Keulemans, slight spotting to the fore-edge, contemporary green half morocco gilt, spines gilt in compartments, raised bands, a fine copy.



Stock ID: 98238