Rare books, rare birds
Start saving you pennies, kids. A Reuters report says, “A rare book by America’s most famous bird artist, John James Audubon, billed as the most expensive in the world, is going under the hammer in December alongside a first edition of Shakespeare‘s plays.”
Audubon’s Birds of America (not to be confused with Lorrie Moore‘s Birds of America ) is expected to sell for anywhere between $6.2 million and $9.2 million dollars at auction at Sotheby‘s on December 7th in London.
According to Reuters,”Only 119 copies of Birds of America are known to exist. The book contains 1,000 illustrations of about 500 breeds of birds and took Audubon 12 years to complete. Audubon, who died in 1851, was an influential natural historian. He was quoted three times in Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species.”
The books are hand colored, with life-size prints of the birds. A copy sold by Christie‘s auction house in 2000 set a world record price for a printed book of $8.8 million.
Also at auction on December 7th will be “a book widely regarded as the most important in all English literature — the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays, “First Folio,” dated from 1623.” Says the Reuters report, “It is expected to sell for between 1.0 and 1.5 million pounds ($1.5-$2.3 million).”
Sotheby’s spokesman David Goldthorpe tells Reuters, “The sale offers the twin peaks of book collecting – the most expensive book in the world, Audubon’s Birds of America, and the most important book in all of English Literature, Shakespeare’s ‘First Folio.”"
Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.