DescriptionJohn 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 U. S. edition. Seven large octavo volumes (approximately 10.25 x 6.5 inches). 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."). Half-titles present. Wood-engraved anatomical illustrations in the text. With original tissue guards. Twentieth-century three-quarter dark blue levant morocco over blue cloth-covered boards, spines ruled, tooled, and lettered in gilt in compartments, five raised bands, marbled endpapers. Bindings worn at joints and edges. All volumes with the embossed stamp of the "Odd Fellows Library Baltimore MD" on the first few and last few leaves of all volumes and some tissue-guards (not on plates). Volume I has marginal worm damage to first leaves (up to page 24) at fore-edge, including the first four plates; text page 231/232 has a two-inch tear to the fore-edge. Volume II has an ink smudge to the fore-edge of text page 49/50, and the following tissue-guard and plate (Pl. 88 "Yellow-poll Wood-Warbler"). The ink stain on the plate is marginal and quite small. Volume IV has marginal worm damage to upper portion of first leaves (up to page 24), affecting the first three plates, and marginal worm damage to last few leaves (page 313 until the end), affecting the last two plates. Volume V has upper corners creased (with short tears) on pages 9-22, affecting three plates. Volume VI has marginal worm damage to upper fore-edge of pages 31-46, affecting three plates. Note: all of the worm damage is marginal, and doesn't affect any plate images. Text and plates with occasional foxing or light thumbsoiling. A near fine set of a magnificent work. Ayer/Zimmer, page 22. Bennett, page 5. McGill/Wood, page 208. Nissen, IVB, 51. Reese 34. Sabin 2364.
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"), [1, 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], [1, "Names of New Subscribers"], [1, blank] -371, [1, blank], pages.
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 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 pl. 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).
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