At Large  August 5, 2017  Rebecca Rego Barry

Beautiful Bird Books on the Block

Christie’s

We spy some beautiful birds headed to auction in New York on June 15. The ornithological library of Dr. Gerald Dorros comprises a “superb selection of important works from the heyday of beautifully illustrated natural history books,” according to Christie’s. 

The biggest names in birding are accounted for--Audubon, Gould, Elliot--in first editions, several in presentation copies. And in some cases, such as the first edition of Saverio Manetti’s Storia naturale degli Uccelli (1767-1776) pictured here, the auction estimate reaches six figures ($150,000-250,000). Same goes for Gould’s The Birds of Australia(1851-1869), estimated at $250,000-350,000. Those birds can fly!

More modestly, and more interestingly to some, will be the material related to the publication and sale of Audubon’s books, such as the “very rare” prospectus for the original edition of The Birds of America(1831) that bears an unsigned ink presentation in what may be Audubon’s hand, according to the auction catalogue. The estimate is $6,000-8,000. Another lot features the scarce salesman’s sample for the 1871 Lockwood octavo edition of Audubon’s Birds of America and Quadrupeds of America, containing extensive examples of the text and forty hand-colored plates. It is estimated at $7,000-10,000. Still another lot boasts a title-page to volume three of Birds (1834-35) boldly inscribed by Audubon in 1840 while visiting Baltimore to solicit subscriptions for his masterpiece. It is estimated at $10,000-15,000. 
 

About the Author

Rebecca Rego Barry

Rebecca Rego Barry is the author of Rare Books Uncovered: True Stories of Fantastic Finds in Unlikely Places and the editor of Fine Books & Collections magazine.

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