Audubon Birds of America print achieves $85,400



2015-06-26 11:19:09

Audubon Birds of America print achieves $85,400

15 Aug 2012, 11:36 GMT+01

A stunning unique proof copy print from the world’s most expensive book, John James Audubon’s Birds of America, has sold for $85,400 at Leslie Hindman’s Fine Books and Manuscripts auction on August 8th.

Completed and published by naturalist and painter Audubon between 1827-1838, Birds of America is considered the utmost accomplishment in ornithological art. It comprises 435 hand-coloured engraved plates based on Audubon’s original watercolours. Complete copies of the first edition have sold for up to £7,321,250 ($11.5 million), and just 120 copies are known to survive intact.

This proof depicts a Great Blue Heron. It features colours that changed for its incorporation into the published work, and lacks the engraved lettering and plate numbers. It is printed on the reverse of an uncoloured impression of the Rusty Grackle.

Audubon’s technique was to shoot the birds, then hang them on wire to paint them. The prints measure over 3ft by 2ft, as Audubon attempted to paint the birds to life scale.

The second highest price realised was for an impressive set of 24 beautifully leather-bound volumes, The Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, one of just 700 sets created. This collection surpassed its $25,000-$30,000 estimate to sell for $54,900.

Other highlights of the auction included a copy of Isaac Newton’s Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica, selling for $18,300, a pair of Indian miniatures in the Mughal style depicting princesses and scholars, sold for $15,860 after an estimate of just $1,000-£2,000, and a glass and mother-of-pearl inlaid sign created for the Rock Island System Railroad in 1900 featuring a train and cowboys fetched $14,030.

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