The Birds of America, from Drawings made in the United States and their Territories. New York & Philadelphia: published by J. J. Audubon & J. B. Chevalier, 1840–44
7 volumes, in 4s (10 1/4 x 6 1/2 in.; 259 x 165 mm). 500 very fine handcolored lithographed plates after Audubon by W. E. Hitchcock, R. Trembly, and others, printed and colored by J. T. Bowen, numerous wood-engraved anatomical figures in text, cumulative lists of subscribers in each volume, half-titles; scattered moderate foxing, generally not affecting images, second leaf of table of contents in vol. 1 erroneously bound preceding title-page. Comtemporary green morocco, spine gilt in five compartments; spines trifle faded, some wear, tear at head of spine of vol. 1.
First "octavo" edition: the "best of pre-Civil war American Lithography" (Tyler). All of the birds from Audubon's original folio aquatints were reproduced by camera lucida for lithography by the artist's son, John Wodehouse Audubon. Seven new species are figured, and seventeen others previously described in the Ornithological Biography but not illustrated are also depicted for the first time. All of the plates are systematically rearranged and renumbered to accord with the text.
Audubon "little work" was a great success, attracting nearly 1,200 subscribers and becoming the format through which Audubon's ornithology was most widely disseminated in the nineteenth century. As it incorporates Audubon's text and several new plates, the present reduced-size issue may also be considered the first complete edition of The Birds of America, as well as the first American edition.
An attractive set.
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