First Octavo, First Complete, and First American Edition of Audubon's Birds of AmericaJohn James Audubon. The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories. New York: Published by J. J. Audubon [and] Philadelphia: J. B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. First octavo, first complete, and first American edition of Audubon's "Birds of America." Seven large octavo volumes (10.5625 x 6.6875 inches; 269 x 169 mm.). viii, -246, [2, blank], -256 ("List of Subscribers"); vii, [1, blank], -199, [1, blank], -205 ("List of Subscribers since the Publication of the First Volume"), [3, blank]; viii, -233, [1, blank], [1, "Names of Subscribers Obtained since the Last Volume"], [1, blank]; viii, -321, [1, blank], [1, "Names of Subscribers Obtained since the Last Volume"], [1, blank]; viii, -346, [1, "Names of Subscribers since the Last Volume"], [1, blank]; viii, -457, [1, blank], [1, "Names of New Subscribers"], [1, blank]; ix, [1, blank], -371, [1, blank], [1, "Names of New Subscribers"], [1, blank] pages. With half-titles and lists of subscribers. Complete with 500 hand-colored lithographed plates after Audubon by Ralph Trembly, William E. Hitchcock, and others, printed by J. T. Bowen, Philadelphia, and Endicott, New York (Plates 136-150 with imprint: "Lith. & Printed by Endicott, New York;" all other plates with imprint: "Lith. & Printed & Col. by J. T. Bowen, Phila."). Wood-engraved anatomical illustrations in the text. With original tissue guards.
Bound by E. Rau of Philadelphia (embossed stamp in upper corner of front free endpaper of Volume I and advertisement slip tipped in at end of Volume VII) in contemporary dark green hard-grain morocco. Covers decoratively bordered in gilt and blind; spines ruled in gilt and blind and decoratively tooled and lettered in gilt with five slightly raised bands; board edges decoratively tooled in gilt; yellow coated endpapers; edges sprinkled reddish brown. Bound from the original 100 parts, with remnants of wrappers visible and affixed to some text leaves and plates in the gutter. The bindings unfortunately are quite worn, with extremities rubbed, and with loss to some spines; most joints split or starting; hinges cracked or repaired with cloth tape; endpapers discolored from pastedown glue. Bookplates removed from several pastedowns, sometimes crudely (as in Volume I, where the board is exposed). Volume II with embossed stamp on front free endpaper: Robert Gwynne Stout / Ardmore, Pennsylvania; bookplate removed from front pastedown (concealing partial ink signature?); and Dewey Decimal call number ("598.2 / A") in pencil in the upper blank corner of page [v]. A few volumes over-opened in places. Scattered foxing, mostly to tissue guards and text leaves; occasional soiling or smudging; a few marginal spots or stains. Some offsetting from the text, mostly to the versos of plates, and sometimes faintly from the plates to text leaves. There is a thin dark shadow around the upper and outer margins of some plates and text leaves (dust soiling, or offsetting from the original printed wrappers?). A few tissue guards torn.
A very good set, generally clean, and a good candidate for rebinding.
This is the first octavo edition of "Audubon's Great National Work," the first complete edition, and the first American edition. The work is one of the "most beautiful, popular, and important natural history books published in America in the nineteenth century...representing the best of pre-Civil War American lithography and giving Audubon the opportunity finally to display his scholarship and genius to a large American audience for the first time" (Ron Tyler, in in Audubon's Great National Work (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1993)).
"The original 8vo edition of this title. The purely ornithological text of Audubon's 'Ornithological Biography,' 1831-39, revised and rearranged by the author according to his 'A Synopsis of the Birds of North America,' 1839, with much additional matter but with the 'Delineation of American Scenery and Manners' omitted. The plates are modified copies of those of the original folio 'The Birds of America,' 1827-38, reduced by camera lucida and lithographed. Some of the backgrounds are entirely changed, others greatly modified, and the original composition is altered so that but one species is represented on a plate. In the case of four species, each occupies two plates, and in one case (pl. 88), the figures of two originals (pll. XXXV and XCV) have been combined on one plate. There are 7 species of the 'Ornithological Biography' and 'Synopsis' which are figured here for the first time and 17 new forms are added in an appendix. The plates are rearranged in accordance with the text and renumbered in sequence to correspond. In Vol. III the names on pll. 187 and 188 are transposed, and, curiously enough, this error is perpetuated throughout all the subsequent 8vo editions of the work. This edition, which is the only 8vo published by the author himself, was issued in 100 parts, 14 of which are found in each of Vols. I-VI, and 16 in Vol. VII" (Ayer/Zimmer).
Ayer/Zimmer, page 22. Bennett, page 5. McGill/Wood, page 208. Nissen, IVB, 51. Reese 34. Sabin 2364.
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