A few miscellaneous highlights of the library - for the geeks out there
That would be Lataste's monograph on the vertebrate fauna of North Africa published in 1885. Next would be William Lutley Sclater's two-volume (1900/1901) The Mammals of South Africa.
MOST LIMITED PRINT-RUN
There were only 500 copies of the original 2001 edition of Viv Wilson’s Duikers of Africa printed, each including a certificate signed by the author inside. Other contenders include Kingdon’s limited print run of African Mammal Drawings (I think only 250 copies) and the "special presentation edition" of Smithers' (1983) The Mammals of the Southern African Subregion (unlike the original or subscribers' editions, this edition is leatherbound with gilt edge).
Viv Wilson's monstrous Duikers of Africa wins again (by a few hundred grams) weighing in at nearly 5.4kg! It narrowly wins out over Wilderness by Russ Mittermeier and colleagues (2003). Along with Megadiversity (1997), Hotspots (1999) and Hotspots Revisited (2004), these four titles are enough to give any bookshelf a run for its money. Mind you, so is the Handbook of the Mammals of the World series, the heaviest of which clocks in at about 4.9 kg.
My favourite is this classic on Liberia's mammals, signed by both Glover Allen and Hal Coolidge! This copy bears the name stamp of former owner William King Gregory who was an authority on mammalian dentition. A close second is probably my copy of Carnivores of West Africa, inscribed by Don Rosevear to the owner, one Terence Morrison-Scott, former director of the British Museum of Natural History, former treasurer of ZSL, and author of several key works on mammals himself.
Not including Kingdon's African Mammal Drawings or Amuchastegui's Some birds and mammals of Africa (which are more works of art), and therefore limiting this to primary reference works, off the top of my head (and without getting a ruler), I would say either Schouteden's (1944-1946) De Zoogdieren van Belgisch Congo en van Ruanda-Urundi or Yongzu et al's (1997) Distribution of Mammalian Species in China.
MOST USED TITLE
Ooh, tough one. While editing Mammals of Africa, I made extensive use of MANY references, and so there are probably various candidates for this title. However, right up there must be Rod East's (1999) African Antelope Database, surely one of the most incredibly useful, informative and most well-researched publications IUCN has ever produced. It is a staggering piece of work. Taxonomic references like Wilson & Reeder (2005) and Meester & Setzer (1971-1977) would also be up there.
MOST DESIRED TITLE
Hands down, Sclater and Thomas's four-volume The Book of Antelopes. Practically impossible to find, and when copies do come up they usually run to nearly £10,000! I’ve only ever seen this book once, in the library of the Zoological Society of London. So, yeah, if you have a copy you're looking to get rid of...