First Edition of ‘Birds of America’ Sells For $7.9 Million

by on November 25th, 2010
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The rare and complete edition of John James Audubon’s “The Birds of America” sold for a whopping $7.9 million in New York to a private American collector. The four-volume collection was in excellent condition and according to Francis Wahlgren, who is the head of the Christie’s International books and manuscripts; the collection was the third highest price for a printed book at auction.

The heirs of the Fourth Duke of Portland were the ones who offered the books at the auction. So that’s quite an impressive price for a book if you think about it. I know I would never spend that much. It almost makes one wonder why you would pay so much for a book? That’s a question I can’t answer but I’m guessing because it’s a huge part in American History and if you have the money why not spend it.

If you think that was a lot of money another “The Birds of America” was sold in London in December 2010 for $11.5 million. For the record, that would be the most expensive printed book sold at an auction. If you’re wondering what these books look like, they’re 3 1/2 feet tall and feature hand-colored prints of all species that was known to Audubon in the 19th century. Audubon wanted to portray each bird at their actual size and natural habitat. You almost have to admire his work and how much he cared for nature.

Some experts are saying there are 200 completed copies and as of today they’re 120 known to exist. 107 are at institutions and 13 are privately owned. That almost makes you wonder if they’re 80 more out there in perfect condition just think how much money you could get? But if it was up to me I would probably keep the book or give it up to a local museum since I love books and is somewhat of an avid book collector.

So next time you open your bird book think about the price of this one and who knows maybe your little bird book in 200 years could be worth a lot of money. Bird watchers keep your eyes open not just for the birds anymore.


New York Daily News, The Associated Press, “Audubon’s ‘Birds of America’ book soars to $7.9 M at Christie’s auction”

Reuters, Patricia Reaney, “First Edition Audubon book sells for 7.9 Million”

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