A Large Folio Featuring the Charming Rollers Family, with their Rainbow of Shades, Richly Saturated Hues, and Subtle Gradations


(Farnborough, Kent: Published by the Author, 1893). 385 x 298 mm. (15 1/4 x 11 5/8"). xvi (lacking final two leaves of introduction), 111, [1] pp. FIRST EDITION.

Recent dark green quarter morocco over green cloth boards, raised bands, spine panels with gilt lettering. Housed in a matching green morocco-backed clamshell box lined with velvet by J & S Brockman. CONTAINING 27 HAND-COLORED PLATES, each enhanced with gum Arabic, by J. G. Kuelemans. Fine Bird Books, p. 92; Ayer/Zimmer, p.178; Wood, p. 324. ◆A couple of plates with very minor foxing or an isolated spot, but IN VERY FINE CONDITION inside and out, the leaves quite smooth and clean, and with vast margins.

This is an important and beautifully illustrated work on the Coraciidae, a spritely family of birds known for their vibrant plumage and acrobatic aerial displays. Predominantly found in Africa and parts of the near East, "rollers," as these birds are commonly known, are much admired for their extraordinary coloring, ranging from bright blues, violets, and bright pinks, to soft peach and burnt orange. The artist of the present work, Dutch illustrator John Gerrard Keulemans (1842-1912), was a much sought-after draughtsman in the world of ornithology. Here he depicts each bird with his usual precision and fine detail, and captures a rainbow of shades with richly saturated hues and subtle gradations. Zimmer calls the work a "Thoroughly detailed study of the group, with excellent hand-colored plates." The son of a timber merchant, Henry Eeles Dresser (1838-1915) travelled widely for his father's business, which also afforded him the opportunity to study birds in far-flung regions such as Finland, the Baltics, and New Brunswick, where the company operated a lumber mill. He even travelled to Texas during the Civil War, bringing back with him more than 400 species of bird skins from the region. Dresser became one of the leading ornithologists of his day, was elected to the British Ornithologists' Union, the Linnean Society, and the Zoological Society, and amassed a formidable collection of skins and eggs. In addition to the present work, he wrote another monograph on a related species of birds, the monumental multi-volume "History of Birds in Europe," as well as numerous scholarly articles. We are able to price our handsomely presented and quite fine copy advantageously because of the two missing leaves from the introduction.

Price: $8,000.00