AUDUBON, John James (1785-1851). The Birds of America, from Drawings made in the United States and their Territories. New York: George R. Lockwood, [ca 1870].

$ 20,000.00

8 volumes. Large 8vo., (10 2/8 x 8 4/8 inches). Half-titles.  500 fine hand-coloured lithographed pates with colour tinted backgrounds after Audubon by W.E. Hitchcock, R. Trembly and others, printed and hand-finished by J.T. Bowen. Contemporary half brown morocco, marbled paper boards, gilt (a bit scuffed at the extremities). 1 plate missing (Great Blue Heron, Plate 369). 

An attractive set of THE FINAL OCTAVO EDITION of John James Audubon's masterpiece. A fine, tall set with colors very clean and fresh. Audubon created 65 new images for the octavo edition of "The Birds...", supplementing the original 435 of the double-elephant folio edition of 1827-1838. The resulting series of 500 plates constitutes the most extensive American color-plate book produced up to that time. The Philadelphia printer J.T. Bowen reduced the double-elephant plates by camera lucida and the resulting lithographs show significant changes in the backgrounds and compositions. The original configurations were altered so that only one species is depicted per plate. The text revision of the Ornithological Biography, rearranged according to Audubon's "A Synopsis of the Birds of North America" (1839).

The Birds and Quadrupeds became financial and popular successes in the smaller octavo format, with the Audubon family authorizing as many as eight editions after Audubon's death in 1851. George Lockwood bound the Birds in eight, rather than seven, volumes and printed the plates whenever possible from the same stone and stereotype plates made in the 1840s and 1850s. The Lockwood edition represents the last octavo edition printed from these original stones; they were destroyed sometime after 1870 by a fire in a Philadelphia warehouse.Tyler Audubon's Great National Work, pp 129, 165 note 10; Bennett, p.5 (this and subsequent references for the first octavo edition); Nissen IVB 51; Sabin 2364; McGrath, p.50; Reese Stamped with a National Character 35 (ref.).