Jun 13, 2024 - Sale 2672

Sale 2672 - Lot 166

Price Realized: $ 25,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 7,000 - $ 10,000
(BIRDS.) Jacob Post Giraud, Jr.; and Nathaniel Currier. A Description of Sixteen New Species of North American Birds, Described in the Annals of the New York Lyceum of Natural History, Collected in Texas, 1838. 8 finely hand-colored lithographed plates by Currier after A[braham] Halsey, 18 leaves of letterpress text including the title-page. Folio, 17x13 inches, original printed brown paper wrappers largely preserved in fragment; internally quite clean with bright colors, scattered typographic corrections in pencil and ink. With: a contemporary signed letter from the author, ink on ruled paper, 8x8 inches. New York: George F. Nesbitt, 1841

Additional Details

"One Of The Most Remarkable Pieces Of Ornithological Americana - If more than 10 or 12 copies of this great rarity were made, they must have been destroyed by the author's own hand. Less than that number are now known" -- Anderson Galleries catalog, 1923.

OCLC currently identifies 9 institutional examples; there have been no appearances on the market since 1955.

"Doubt is usually entertained that these birds were taken in Texas; but the author stoutly so maintained to the day of his death, and recent discoveries along our southwest border render it more probable than it formerly seemed. Most of the species have been identified with earlier named ones" - Elliot Coues, Ornithological Bibliography Appendix (Bulletin of the United States Geological and Geographical Survey, 1880), pages 630-631.

After enumerating some finer points of taxonomy and whether the birds have been previously known or not, Philip Lutley Sclater comments "I have thought it worth while to give the previous list of the Texan birds described by Mr. Giraud, and some remarks on their synonymy, as his book appears to be very little known on this side of the Atlantic. The only copy I have seen is that in the Society's Library, to which it was presented by the author. It will be observed that by far the greater portion of the species have been also noticed by European naturalists, though in some cases subsequently to Mr. Giraud's publication of them" -- Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, part XXIII, 1855, pages 65-66.

Whether these species were at the time formerly unrecorded to science or not, the effort given to their presentation here is exceptional. The lithography by Nathaniel Currier is strong quality and one of the earlier outputs of his independent career, nearly a decade prior to his famous and lengthy collaboration with James Ives. The attention given to the detailed hand-coloring is also notable, and preserved as fresh and unfaded as it may have been when originally applied.

The third plate of the book illustrates a red-breasted specimen given the name "Derahms Flycatcher" (corrected to De Rham's in ink and pencil). Accompanying our book is a signed letter from the author that reads:

"Charles De Rham Esq.
Dear Sir,
The laudable exertion made by your deceased brother, for the advancement of this interesting branch of Natural History, has induced me to dedicate to his memory, a new species of Muscicapa.

Respectfully JP. Giraud. Oct. 30th /41".

Giraud's reference here is to Casimir de Rham, one of four children to prominent New York City merchant and diplomat Henry Casimir de Rham, who died in 1840 at age 22 and was an amateur naturalist; the letter to Charles, his younger brother by four years, was presumably accompanied by the book and both have remained with the de Rham family to the present.

See Witmer Stone, Jacob Post Giraud, Jr., and His Works (The Auk, volume 36, pages 464-472, 1919) for extended background on the author and a consonance of the labels Giraud assigned to each bird and present-day equivalents.