Audubon's Birds of America: The world's most expensive book
By Nick Askew, Thu, 09/12/2010 - 09:06
A copy of John James Audubon's Birds of America has became the most expensive book ever sold when it went under the hammer at Sotheby's for a staggering US$11,542,683 (£7,321,250). The auction was a rare chance to own one of the best preserved editions of the 19th century masterpiece, with its 435 hand-coloured illustrations, seen as a key volume on US natural history. BirdLife Partner in the USA the National Audubon Society are named after the book’s artist. The National Audubon Society is dedicated to protecting birds, other wildlife and the habitat that supports them, including an Important Bird Area program throughout North America, and, increasingly, in parts of Central and South America. John James Audubon's Birds of America plates were printed in black and white and hand-coloured afterwards, and made from engravings of Audubon's watercolours. The book measures more than 3 ft by 2 ft (90 cm by 60cm) because he wanted to paint the birds life size. A fiery enthusiasm among four collectors bidding on the phones and in the room drove the price rapidly beyond pre-sale expectations of US$6.3-9.5 million.