• Fine Printed Books and Manuscr auction at Christies

    Sale 2227

    Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts Including Americana

    4 December 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 164

    AUDUBON, John James (1785-1851). The Birds of America, from Original Drawings by John James Audubon... Reissued by J[ohn] W[oodhouse] Audubon. New York: Roe Lockwood & Son, 1860.

    Price Realised  

    AUDUBON, John James (1785-1851). The Birds of America, from Original Drawings by John James Audubon... Reissued by J[ohn] W[oodhouse] Audubon. New York: Roe Lockwood & Son, 1860.

    Double elephant broadsheets (1001 x 678 mm). Lithographed title, 150 CHROMOLITHOGRAPHIC PLATES ON 105 SHEETS, some finished by hand, by Julius Bien after J.J.Audubon. (Title lightly spotted, title and plates 1-10 with soft vertical crease and with 2-in. repaired tears in lower left corners touching some letters and extreme image borders, plate 42 with upper left corner torn away, several plates with manuscript changes to numeration, a few other small marginal repairs, some occasional pale spotting, mostly at beginning and end.) (Atlas volume only, without the 7 vols. 8vo text.) Modern half cloth preserving original marbled boards (some light wear to boards).

    A FINE COPY OF THE SECOND FOLIO EDITION. In 1858 or 1859 John Woodhouse Audubon set out to reproduce his father's Birds of America at half the original cost by producing full-size chromolithographic reproductions of the original hand-colored aquatint plates, and by printing the smaller format plates two to a sheet. To carry out the project he enlisted the well-known cartographer and printmaker Julius Bien, who transferred the etchings onto stone, printing the colors and using additional hand-coloring only where necessary. The work was to have been issued in 45 parts, of which one would contain the text, for a total subscription price of $500. Only the first 15 parts and the 7 volumes of octavo text were published, however, before the printing was interrupted by the outbreak of the Civil War, and, it was rumored, by the shady dealings of certain financial backers. "Although only one-third completed when the project collapsed in 1861, the Bien Audubon is the largest and most ambitious color plate book undertaken in 19th-century America, rivaled only by the folio Quadrupeds" (Reese 40).

    Although a complete full-size reprint of the folio Birds of America had to wait for the Johnson Reprint Corporation's facsimile edition of 1971-1973, the 150 plates reproduced by Bien include many of Audubon's most famous images, such as the wild turkey, the barn owl, the flamingo and the white-headed eagle. The number of copies has not been established, but Fries had succeeded in locating 49 by 1973.

    This copy has a variant imprint, dated 1860 but with no mention of Julius Bien. The plates, as usual, are dated from 1858-1860, with most numbered with the part and series number at the upper left and the final number (corresponding to the author's 1839 Synopsis) at upper right. Ayer/Zimmer pp. 24-25; Ellis/Mengel 102 (a fragment); Fries, Appendix B, pp. 355-59; Nissen IVB 50; Reese Stamped with a National Character 40.


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    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM THE SARA HINCKLEY TRUST