For many who grew up in Australia in the twentieth century, their introduction to wildlife was through the Gould League, an organisation set up in 1909 to honour the work of John Gould (1804–1881), a zoologist and passionate bird collector. With his wife, Elizabeth, Gould left England in 1838 to embark on a 19-month field trip of Australia, with the aim of plugging the gap in knowledge of the country’s birds and mammals. Gould spent a number of weeks exploring the collections of the Australian Museum, familiarising himself with the native fauna, before acquiring his own specimens in the field. After his return to London, the Australian Museum and its associates sent Gould more newly discovered species – a practice that continued for the next 40 years. These specimens were quickly sketched by Gould and then finished by one of his artists under close supervision. The lavish books Gould produced and published, a full set of which is still held in the Australian Museum’s Rare Books collection, are a tangible reminder of Gould’s link to the Museum.
7 volumes, 36 parts, published by the author in 1848, London 55 (high) x 37 (wide) cm Purchased 1864
AM Archives, Rare Books
and Library Collections
Above: ‘Dacelo Gigantea, Great Brown King sher’, John Gould and H.C. Richter
Image: Leone Lemmer
© Australian Museum