Collection: Gould's Toucans Reborn

Lockdown has led many of us to pursue new projects at home, and Sotheran's has been no different. We took some time to explore our vaults and were very excited to find the complete text and plates of the second edition of John Gould's magisterial monograph on the Toucans, just as it was when we bought the great ornithologist's estate in 1881.

This has always been one of his most celebrated works, as the birds are so beautiful and the plates so splendid. It seemed ridiculous that, after more than a hundred and fifty years, this book should still be kept under wraps.

However, the plates were just as they were when they were first printed - that is, uncoloured. If we wanted to bring this work to life, we would have to do what Gould did  and find a hand-colourist to painstakingly apply watercolour to each plate, following the facsimile reference copy in our collection.

Gould had a number of wonderfully accomplished artists available, none of whom ever received a credit and all of whom are now lost to posterity. Our pool of talent was much smaller and more difficult to find, After some trial and error we found a great colourist and we are very happy to give him his full credit. Chris Mayger has done a superb job in rendering these colours as faithfully to Gould's originals, and to nature, as possible.

The final stage was to put this astonishing work into a binding fittingly sumptuous and historically sympathetic, and we went to a binder with a distinguished history of handling Gould's work. Shepherd's have handcrafted a beautiful gilt morocco binding with silk endpapers as if for a Victorian collector's prize library.

We are proud to present this work alongside a selection of individual plates from the first and second editions of the Toucans, many of which feature original nineteenth century hand-colouring by Gould's own team of painters.

Watch the book's video presentation with comments from Chris Saunders or explore the collection, download the PDF catalogue to see 15 splendid plates from the book, or shop the collection below

10 items
  • GOULD, John. A Monograph of the Ramphastidæ, or family of toucans.
    A Monograph of the Ramphastidæ, or family of toucans
    Regular price
    Sold out
    Sale price
    £30,000.00
  • H.C. Richter and J. Gould. Langsdorff's Toucanet. [Selenidera langsdorffi].
    Langsdorff's Toucanet [Green-billed Toucanet
    Regular price
    £1,000.00
    Sale price
    £1,000.00
  • H.C. Richter and J. Gould. Hooded Hill Toucan. [Andigena cucullatus].
    Hooded Hill Toucan [Hooded Mountain-toucan
    Regular price
    £1,700.00
    Sale price
    £1,700.00
  • H.C. Richter and J. Gould. Laminated Hill Toucan. [Andigena laminirostris].
    Laminated Hill Toucan [Plate-billed Mountain Toucan
    Regular price
    £1,700.00
    Sale price
    £1,700.00
  • H.C. Richter and J. Gould. Gould's Toucanet. [Selenidera gouldii].
    Gould's Toucanet
    Regular price
    £1,000.00
    Sale price
    £1,000.00
  • H.C. Richter and J. Gould. Black-billed Hill Toucan. [Andigena nigrirostris].
    Black-billed Hill Toucan [Black-billed Mountain Toucan
    Regular price
    £1,600.00
    Sale price
    £1,600.00
  • H.C. Richter and J. Gould. Reinwardt's Toucanet. [Selenidera reinwardtii].
    Reinwardt's Toucanet [Golden-collared Toucanet
    Regular price
    £1,000.00
    Sale price
    £1,000.00
  • John and Elizabeth Gould. Earl of Derby's Groove-bill Aracari. [Pteroglossus Derbianus].
    Earl of Derby's Groove-bill Aracari
    Regular price
    £695.00
    Sale price
    £695.00
  • John and Elizabeth Gould. Peacock Groove-bill Aracari. [Pteroglossus pavoninus].
    Peacock Groove-bill Aracari
    Regular price
    £695.00
    Sale price
    £695.00
  • H.C. Richter and J. Gould. Tocard Toucan. [Ramphastos Tocard].
    Tocard Toucan
    Regular price
    £1,600.00
    Sale price
    £1,600.00