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Auction of Audubon’s Book on Birds Could Fetch $12m

Auction of Audubon’s Book on Birds Could Fetch $12mAuction of Audubon’s Book on Birds Could Fetch $12m

A first edition of John James Audubon’s “The Birds of America,” one of the most celebrated books of natural history, is going up for auction in New York in June and could fetch up to $12 million.

The richly illustrated 19th-century book, featuring more than 400 hand-colored illustrations of 1,037 life-size birds, is one of just 13 complete sets thought remaining in private hands, Christie’s said.

According to the auction house, the book was “among the most superlative copies in private hands of the finest color-plate book ever produced.” It gave it a presale estimate of $8 million to $12 million, Reuters reported.

The book was owned for the past six years by the late businessman and naturist Carl W. Knobloch Jr., who established the Texas-based foundation bearing his family’s name and who died in 2016. He bought it in 2012 from the heirs of Britain’s fourth Duke of Portland for $7.9 million.

Audubon’s “The Birds of America” was first published as a series in sections between 1827-38 and represented his long mission to find and paint all the known species of birds in North America.

The illustrations are full size, reflecting Audubon’s decision to depict the birds in a lifelike manner, be they flamingoes or tiny hummingbirds.

Most of the 120 complete first edition sets thought to still exist are owned by art galleries, libraries and universities in the US and Britain.

The book was publicly displayed at Christie’s in Los Angeles from April 26-28 and will be exhibited in London from May 19-24.

John James Audubon (1785-1851) was an American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter.

 He was notable for his extensive studies documenting all types of American birds and for his detailed illustrations that depicted the birds in their natural habitats.

 His major work, a color-plate book entitled The Birds of America (1827–1839), is considered one of the finest ornithological works ever completed. Audubon identified 25 new species.

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