7 December 2015
AUDUBON, John James (1785-1851), [and William MACGILLIVRAY]. Ornithological Biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America; accompanied by descriptions of the objects represented in the work entitled the Birds of America, and interspersed with delineations of American scenery and manners. Edinburgh, London, [etc.]: Neill & Co. for Adam Black, R. Havell, jun., and others, 1831-1835.
5 volumes, 8° (vol I. 250 x 158mm others 265 x 163mm). Half-titles vols. 2-5. (Lacking subscribers list, announcement of “The Birds of America,” prospectus, and reviews, some spotting or staining, a few repairs). Modern red half morocco. Provenance: George and Laura Gifford (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION of the text that Audubon published to accompany the double-elephant folios of Birds of America. Although the text describes each of the plates, it was published separately by Audubon in order to circumvent the British copyright act of 1709 which required that a copy of any book with text published in Great Britain had to be sent to each of the nine copyright libraries. Audubon could ill-afford the loss in revenue that would have been involved in presenting nine sets of his engravings, so published them initially without letterpress. Cf. BM(NH) I, p.71; cf. Wood pp.207-8; cf. Zimmer pp.18-19.
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