A handbook of the birds of Asia
This was planned by Edward Dickinson (ECD) to comprise ten volumes. Its planned geographical scope is shown in the map included in the Introduction to Systematic Notes on Asian Birds which can be accessed below. Preliminary discussions with OUP in 1991-92 were successful. Both the project proposal and the associated funding proposal were accepted.
It was recognised that OUP would not directly finance the artwork. Therefore external funding was essential, and ECD’s proposal was to sell full size single species portraits by top-class bird artists and this was accepted in principle by OUP, who appeared to agree to put in £100,000. On that basis, in 1992, OUP paid Bates, Wells & Braithwaite (City solicitors and specialists in Charity Law) all the costs of setting up this charity including drafting the appropriate Trust Deed and registering it with the Charity Commission. OUP also kindly printed a brochure for the fund-raising effort.
Trustees were approached and, in 1993 when they were in place, OUP proposed a contract based on the 1991-92 discussions with ECD when OUP had verbally agreed to the provide £100,000 (which was needed to pay artists’ fees and cover the costs of a professional fundraising organisation until the income they generated could provide for future costs - mainly donor identification and agreement - and to repay the OUP loan). When the contract was laid before the Trustees OUP made clear for the first time that the advance had to be refunded if the project had to be aborted. The Trustees saw no way that the potential liability for this could be placed on the professional fundraisers or on the Trustees themselves, and it was concluded, jointly by the Trustees and OUP, that the proposed contract could not be signed at this point but that trying to fundraise without professional help should be explored. This led to visits to a selected few potential corporate donors in Asia, but these just proved that without professional support fundraising was not something the Trust could or should take on. OUP were thus informed that the Trust would not be seeking to finalise the contract.