AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. The Birds of America, from Original Drawings by John James Audubon... Reissued by J[ohn] W[oodhouse] Audubon. New York: Roe Lockwood & Son .
Atlas volume only (without the 7 octavo text vols.), double elephant folio (i.e., in single sheets), 1010 x 676 mm. (39¾ x 26 5/8 in.), modern brown buckram, morocco gilt lettering-pieces on upper cover and spine, by D. Holler[?] of Boston, Mass., binder's ink-stamp on front pastedown, lower cover and extremities a bit rubbed, title-leaf soiled, library ink-stamp in lower blank margin, title and plate 1 (Wild Turkey) chipped at fore-edge, title and plates 1-4 and 6 creased at inner margin and with short marginal tears at top and bottom of crease, patch-repaired in plates 1-3 and 5, last 2 plates with slight soft crease, plate 3 (Dusky Duck) more severely creased and with 3-inch repaired internal tear (affecting sky and the tip of a reed), small stain to plate 8, all but 30 plates with from one to three short marginal tears, minor color-smearing to plates 22, 47, and 88, slight uniform discoloration to plate 43 (Carolina Parrot), showthrough causing uneven discoloration to plate 73 (Pigeon Hawk), marginal discoloration to plates 35, 75, 84 and 87, plate 103 soiled, faint discoloration to extreme outer margins of most plates, occasional marginal finger-soiling.
SECOND FOLIO EDITION, lithographed title-page (this copy with an apparently unrecorded variant imprint, undated and with no mention of Julius Bien), 150 chromolithographed plates on 105 sheets (all published), some finished by hand, by Julius Bien after John James Audubon, the plates dated 1858, 1859 or 1860, most plates numbered with the part and series number at upper left and the final number (corresponding to the author's 1839 Synopsis) at upper right (some with numbers stamped in by hand, a few unnumbered). Ayer/Zimmer pp. 24-25; Ellis/Mengel 102 (a fragment); Fries, Appendix B, pp. 355-59; Nissen IVB 50.
A very good copy, complete with the often lacking part 15. In 1858 or 1859 John Woodhouse Audubon set out to reproduce his father's Birds of America at half the original price by producing full-size chromolithographic reproductions of the original hand-colored aquatint plates, and by printing the smaller 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 when strictly necessary. The work was to be 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 seven octavo text volumes were published, however, before printing was interrupted by the outbreak of the Civil War and, it was rumored, by the shady dealings of certain financial backers. The failure of this venture, followed shortly by the deaths of both of her sons, obliged Audubon's widow Lucy to raise funds by putting up for sale her husband's original drawings and copper plates. The New-York Historical Society purchased the drawings in 1863 for $4000; the copperplates failed to sell and most were melted down.
Although a complete full-size reprint of the folio Birds of America had to wait for the Johnson Reprint Corporation's facsimile edition of 1971-73, the 150 plates reproduced by Bien and J.W. Audubon include some of J.J. Audubon's most celebrated images, such as the wild turkey, the flamingo, the barn owl and the white-headed eagle. No prospectus having been found, it is not known how many copies were published; Fries succeeded in locating 49.
Provenance: Loosely inserted is the original receipt from Estes & Lauriat of Boston, dated 1873, for "1 Birds of America" for the sum of 150 dollars.