Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including Americana

Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including Americana

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 6. Audubon, John James | Audubon's favorite bird, from the Amsterdam edition.

Audubon, John James | Audubon's favorite bird, from the Amsterdam edition

Lot Closed

January 25, 07:05 PM GMT


3,000 - 5,000 USD

Lot Details


Audubon, John James

Wild Turkey, Male. [PL. 1]. Amsterdam and New York: Johnson Reprint Corporation and Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, 1971-72

Color printed lithograph (image size: 641 x 946 mm; sheet size: 679 x 1,013 mm). On fine handmade paper. Handsomely matted, framed, and glazed, with frame finished in 24k gold leaf, and silk mat with beveled gold edge; not examined out of frame.

Audubon's favorite bird — from the famed Amsterdam edition of The Birds of America.

In October 1971, employing the most faithful printing method available, the best materials, and the ablest craftsmen of the age, the Amsterdam firm of Theatrum Orbis Terrarum Ltd., in conjunction with the Johnson Reprint Corporation of New York, set out to produce the finest possible limited edition facsimile of the greatest bird book ever printed: the Havell edition of John James Audubon's landmark Birds of America.

The curators of the Teyler's Museum in Haarlem, Holland, made their copy of the original work available for use as a model. The Museum, founded in 1778, bought their copy through Audubon's son as part of the original subscription in 1839. The original Havell edition was published on hand-made rag paper, and the Johnson Reprint Corporation and Theatrum Orbis Terrarum were determined that the paper of their edition should match the original. Unhappy with the commercially available papers, they turned to the traditional paper manufacturers G. Schut & Zonen, founded in 1625, who, using 100% unbleached cotton rags, were able to produce a wove paper of the highest quality, with each sheet bearing a watermark unique to the edition: "G. Schut & Zonen [JR monogram] Audubon [OT monogram]."

The publishers and their dedicated team completed their task late in 1972, and the results of these labors were affectionately known as the "Amsterdam Audubon." A limited edition of 250 copies was published and sold by subscription, with the plates available bound or unbound. Given all this careful preparation, it is not surprising that the prints have the look and feel of the original Havell edition.

The Birds of America is the single greatest ornithological work ever produced, and is the realization of Audubon's dream of traveling throughout the United States recording, natural size, every native bird then known. The Havell edition was expensive at the time of publication, and this has not changed. Currently, the increasingly rare individual plates from the Havell edition, when they do appear, generally sell for between $5,000 and $350,000, depending on the image. The quality of the Amsterdam Audubon plates is apparent, and offers an attractive alternative to the Havell edition plates.


Cf.: Zimmer 22; Bennett 5; Fries, Appendix A; Wood 208; Nissen IVB 51; Sabin 2364; Ripley 13; Tyler, Audubon's Great National Work Appendix I