The Spectacular Wassenaar Zoo Library At Bonhams

Wassenaar Zoo
A Dutch Private Library
30 May 2018
London, New Bond Street

Bonhams is to offer one of the finest collections of ornithological books in private hands – Wassenaar Zoo: a Dutch Private Library – in London on 30 May 2018. The library comprises more than 2,400 volumes.

The collection, which also contains zoological works on cats, monkeys, fish, chameleons, elephants, and other animals, was assembled during the 1950s to complement the work of Wassenaar Zoo, which has since closed.

Highlights of the collection include:
• A near-complete run of John Gould's magnificent folios, from his first major work A Century of Birds... from the Himalaya Mountains for which his wife Elizabeth supplied the drawings to the Birds of Asia and Birds of New Guinea that were completed after his death. The pinnacle of Gould's work is his seven-volume Birds of Australia (1840–1869), the result of his own tour of the continent during which he named 300 new species of birds. This is also included in the sale and is estimated at £100,000-150,000.
• Five major works by Daniel Giraud Elliot, one of the most important American ornithologists and naturalists of the nineteenth century and a founder of the American Museum of Natural History in 1869.
• Histoire naturelle des oiseaux de paradis (1806) and several other studies by the French explorer, zoological collector, and noted ornithologist François Levaillant.

Bonhams Head of Fine Books and Manuscripts, Matthew Haley said: "The owners feel the time is right to offer other enthusiasts the opportunity to own these beautiful and fascinating works. It is rare to find such a comprehensive library of books on ornithology. All the best-regarded names of this very special art form are included, and there are also sumptuous works on zoology. These scientific landmarks were arguably the natural history documentaries of their day, and show that people have been fascinated by wildlife for centuries."


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest and most renowned auctioneers, offering fine art and antiques, motor cars and jewellery. The main salerooms are in London, New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, with auctions also held in Knightsbridge, Edinburgh, Paris, San Francisco and Sydney. With a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 22 countries, Bonhams offers advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full list of forthcoming auctions, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, please visit

  1. Lucinda Bredin
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 8363
  2. Matthew Haley
    Montpelier Street
    London, United Kingdom SW7 1HH
    Work +44 20 7393 3817

Related auctions