Lot 15 of 517:
Birds of America 1st octavo edition, 1840-1844  

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Lot closed - unsold
Estimate:
$30,000 - $50,000

Title:
The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories

Author:
Audubon, John James

Place:
New York & Philadelphia

Publisher:

Date:
1840-1856

Description:

Seven volumes. 500 hand-colored lithograph plates. (Royal 8vo) 26.7x18 cm (10½x7"), rebacked in half-morocco with original spine panels laid down, marbled boards, edges, and endpapers, spines lettered in gilt. Lists of subscribers at rear in all volumes. Index present in Volume VII. Early octavo editions.

Audubon's ornithological masterpiece and perhaps the most important American color-plate book of the 19th century. The plates, accompanied for the first time in the octavo edition by the text, were reduced and modified from the original Havell engravings for the double-elephant folio. The plates were reduced by camera lucida and some of the backgrounds entirely changed or greatly modified. To the original plate count included in the double-elephant folio edition, the octavo edition adds 65 new images for a total of 500 plates, making it "the most extensive color plate book produced in America up to that time" (Reese). Included for the first time are seven new species and seventeen others, previously described in the Ornithological Biography but not illustrated, are also shown for the first time. The original compositions were altered so that only one species is depicted per plate. The text itself is a revision of the Ornithological Biography, rearranged according to Audubon's "A Synopsis of the Birds of North America" (1839). Audubon writes in his introduction to this edition that it is his wish that a work similar to his large work should be published 'at such a price, as would enable every student or lover of nature to place it in his library'. The octavo Birds of America was originally issued in 100 parts, each containing five plates. This is apparently the second octavo edition, with lithographed backgrounds to the plates, but using first edition title pages on some of the volumes. This practice was not uncommon after J.J. Audubon's sons took over the publishing operations for the Birds of America. Bennett p.5; Nissen IVB 51; Reese 34; Sabin 2364; McGill/Wood p.208; Ayer/Zimmer p.22.

The imprints of the present set are as follows:

Vol. I - New York: / Published by J.J. Audubon. / Philadelphia: / J.B. Chevalier. / 1840.
Vol. II - New York: / Published by J.J. Audubon. / Philadelphia: / J.B. Chevalier. / 1841.
Vol. III - New York: / Published by J.J. Audubon. / Philadelphia: / J.B. Chevalier. / 1841.
Vol. IV - New York: / Published by V.G. Audubon, / 1856.
Vol. V - New York: / Published by V.G. Audubon, / and / C.S. Francis & Co., / 252 Broadway, / 1855.
Vol. VI - J.J. Audubon / 17 William Street, New York, / 24 North Front Street, Philadelphia. / 1843.
Vol. VII - J.J. Audubon / 17 William Street, New York, / 24 North Front Street, Philadelphia. / 1844.
 
 
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Lot Amendments
This is apparently the second octavo edition, with lithographed backgrounds to the plates, but using first edition title pages on some of the volumes. This practice was not uncommon after J.J. Audubon's sons took over the publishing operations for the Birds of America.

Condition:
Mild wear to bindings with some scuffing and rubbing to corners and boards; front free endpaper of Volume I clipped at lower corner, occasional small stains, toning to margins, a few tissue guards lacking; a few stains in margins of plates, plate #191 more pronounced; plate #240 with a shallow closed tear at foot; overall about near fine.


 
Item number:
298914
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