At that time the nomenclature of Linnaeus' system was still very incomplete. Gould opens the sample boxes received by the ZSL. The collection of birds from the Himalayas includes superb unpublished species that awakens in 1830 his vocation as a publisher. He draws the sketches and his wife Elizabeth prepares the illustrations.
Gould continued this work until his death in 1881, successively publishing birds from Europe, Australia, Asia, Great Britain and New Guinea. America, treated independently by Audubon since 1827, was limited by Gould to partridges.
His scientific contribution to Australian zoology is outstanding. Dissatisfied with his edition in London in 1838-39, he traveled on the spot with his wife and repealed the copies already delivered to replace them with a more complete set based on his own discoveries. He also published three volumes on Australian mammals, the only ones of his books that do not involve birds. Elizabeth's untimely death does not change his working organization.
The last publication is made in 1888, seven years after his death, for a total of about 3,100 lithographs. This work has several characteristics in common with the Birds of America by Audubon : scientific correctness, distribution by subscription, hand colored images in large size : around 54 x 38 cm for Gould and 98 x 65 cm for Audubon.
Sets containing the 11 titles not canceled by Gould and their two supplements for Asia and hummingbirds are considered complete. Two of them came to auction, both in 43 volumes. One of them was sold for £ 1.25M including premium by Christie's on April 30, 2008 over a lower estimate of £ 600K.
The other complete set is estimated £ 700K for sale by Sotheby's in London on May 15, lot 412. It had been sold for £ 510K including premium by Christie's on April 30, 1997. In the same sale a highly rare surviving copy of the recalled edition on Australia was sold for £ 17.2K including premium.
Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's.