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The Birds of America; from Original Drawings by John James Audubon. London: Published by the Author, 1827-1838
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Audubon, John James., The Birds of America; from Original Drawings by John James Audubon. London: Published by the Author, 1827-1838\nFirst edition, 4 volumes, broadsheets (volume 1: 97.2 x 65.4cm. (38¼ x 25¾"); volume 2: 97.1 x 63.9cm. (38¼ x 25⅛"); volume 3: 97.2 x 63.8cm. (38¼ x 25⅛"); volume 4: 97.5 x 64.5cm. (38⅜ x 25⅜")), 4 engraved titles, 435 magnificent hand-coloured etched plates with line-engraving and aquatint, by W.H. Lizars of Edinburgh and by Robert Havell and Robert Havell, Jr. of London, after the original life-size watercolours by Audubon, watermarks J. Whatman or J. Whatman Turkey Mill 1827-1838 A plate-by-plate survey of the copy including watermarks and notes on all but the most minor defects is available from the London or New York Book Departments, and on Sothebys.com.
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notes

First edition, 4 volumes, broadsheets (volume 1: 97.2 x 65.4cm. (38¼ x 25¾"); volume 2: 97.1 x 63.9cm. (38¼ x 25⅛"); volume 3: 97.2 x 63.8cm. (38¼ x 25⅛"); volume 4: 97.5 x 64.5cm. (38⅜ x 25⅜")), 4 engraved titles, 435 magnificent hand-coloured etched plates with line-engraving and aquatint, by W.H. Lizars of Edinburgh and by Robert Havell and Robert Havell, Jr. of London, after the original life-size watercolours by Audubon, watermarks J. Whatman or J. Whatman Turkey Mill 1827-1838

A plate-by-plate survey of the copy including watermarks and notes on all but the most minor defects is available from the London or New York Book Departments, and on Sothebys.com.

medium

Paper

dimensions

First edition, 4 volumes, broadsheets (volume 1: 97.2 x 65.4cm. (38¼ x 25¾"); volume 2: 97.1 x 63.9cm. (38¼ x 25⅛"); volume 3: 97.2 x 63.8cm. (38¼ x 25⅛"); volume 4: 97.5 x 64.5cm. (38⅜ x 25⅜")), 4 engraved titles, 435 magnificent hand-coloured etched plates with line-engraving and aquatint, by W.H. Lizars of Edinburgh and by Robert Havell and Robert Havell, Jr. of London, after the original life-size watercolours by Audubon, watermarks J. Whatman or J. Whatman Turkey Mill 1827-1838 A plate-by-plate survey of the copy including watermarks and notes on all but the most minor defects is available from the London or New York Book Departments, and on Sothebys.com.

provenance

Henry Witham, Lartington, Co. Durham, subscriber number eleven as recorded in Audubon's Ornithological Biography, and noted in Audubon's ledger ("to July 1838 / Bound with locks"), volume I also bearing a presentation inscription from Witham's wife "From Eliza Witham with sincere affection. June the 24th, 1831"; thence by family descent to Francis Somerled Silvertop, sale, Christie's, 3 July 1951, lot 198 "a magnificent copy", £7,000, bought by William H. Robinson for Frederick, 2nd Lord Hesketh

Henry Witham (1799-1844) was a notable early paleobotanist, and the first Englishman to examine the internal structure of fossil plants. In 1833 he published his work on the subject, The Internal Structure of Fossil Vegetables found in the Carboniferous and Oolitic deposits of Great Britain. Witham had been born Henry Thomas Silvertop, but upon his marriage to the heiress Eliza Witham, he took her name and arms. Audubon's journal entry for 3 December 1826 tells of how the naturalist dined with Witham at Edinburgh, noting that "I determined in an instant that this gentleman was a gentleman indeed, quite wealthy, and polite and versed in all courteous ways. We dined, we drank coffee, we supped at 11. At 12 the ladies bid us good night. I wished and longed to retire, but it was impossible. Mr. Bridges talked much. We all talked much, for I believe the good wine of Mr. Witham had a most direct effect... And at half past one, after been dubbed a great philosopher and an extraordinary man, my health drank, &c., &c., I retired with Dr. Knox, but left Mr. B[ridges] and Mr. W[itham] at their whiskey toddy" (as quoted in Fries, pp.333-334).


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