London: Paul Jerrard, . Hardcover. A rare bird book with an 1855 California gold fields inscription in a special lacquered binding possibly created in California at the time. This copy is elaborately inscribed "Birth Day Present From Enrique De Estrellas. For Miss Harriet Landeker. Nevada Dec 25th, 1855 California."
There are very few copies of the book recorded on OCLC and none specifying this elaborate binding. There are perhaps five copies ( OCLC: 54221284 & OCLC: 558156274) but some entries appear to be duplicates.
The black lacquered binding is elaborate, with a scrollwork design around the edges colored in two tones of green and gilt, along with gilt flourishes. The title "EXOTIC BIRDS" is centered on the front board with tree-like gilt flourishes around it. We theorize that the binding may have been the work of a Chinese gold miner returning to his craft of making lacquer ware. The only OCLC listings that mention the binding are at Yale (tan cloth binding with paper chromolithograph over the whole of the front cover) and Massey College (cream net-grain cloth, hand colored printed paper only on front board, blocked in gold.)
Three Australian birds are represented of the 10 illustrated - The Long-tailed Australian Wren - Malurus Longicaudus; the Regent Oriole- Oriolus Regens and the Speckled Manakin - Pipra Maculata. Other exotic varieties include the Indian Flycatcher, Green Creeper, Blue Creeper, Speckled Manakin, Gold-headed Manakin, Violet-breasted Tanager, Tricolored Brazilian Finch, with the country they originate, their Latin names and description. Ornithologist sources include Gould, Latham & Pennant.
Researching Ancestry.com revealed a young Harriet Landeker who lived in Oakland but much later- perhaps a niece or daughter? The father seems to be David Henry Landeker, born in Bavaria, and mining in Lincoln in the Sierras as late as the 1870 Federal Census. We did not have success find a Harriet Estrella so perhaps Enrique was not successful in wooing Miss Harriet.
Tall 8vo, 30pp, text printed throughout in gold. 3 preliminary leaves, 10 leaves with 9 color illustrations 28 cm. Inscription page 1 - "Birth Day Present From Enrique De Estrellas. for Miss Harriet Landeker. Nevada Dec 25th, 1855 California." The text pages are printed in gilt on both sides with a chromolithograph of a bird on the verso. Original yellow and gilt-decorated endpapers in a floral, leaf and scroll design. The last three pages are advertisements for Jerrard's other works - Gems for the Drawing Room; The Floral Offering & Flower Painting in Twelve Lessons. The bird images are very clean although the page borders are foxed. It is disbound, the spine lacking, all pages detached and rubbed at edges.
A complete but battered copy of this scarce book with an intriguing binding and gift inscription related to California during the Gold Rush. Fair. Item #22876