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When Silvester Diggles arrived in 1855 there was little artistic or scientific talent in the small frontier town of Brisbane. By the time of his death in 1880, his paramount legacy was a large book on Australian birds, profusely illustrated with hand-coloured lithographs. Acting as his own publisher from 1865 onwards, Diggles produced the first substantial zoological work to commence publication in Australia. The compilation and content of this rare work of art and natural history is examined here in the light of Diggles' life and times, as well as his ornithological predecessors and contemporaries. So too is his role in establishing the first scientific society and museum in Queensland. Also presented in this lavishly illustrated publication are colour plates from his bird book, and some of his original bird paintings for the first time. Diggles was indeed the preeminent birdman of his day, not only in Brisbane but also Queensland if not Australia-wide. Dr Rod Fisher Brisbane historian
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