Friday, January 20, 2012

A Bird in the Hand...

An update on Audubon's prized Birds of America:  The Duke of Portland's set of the four-volume, "double elephant" Birds sold at Christie's in New York this morning for a cool 7.9 million dollars.

Two plates from the large, rare edition of Birds of America

The Martin family library once held one of the seven-volume Royal octavo editions of Audubon's Birds, noted by Darwin D. Martin as a Christmas gift to his bookish family in 1911.  Though the Martins' set was an edition more common than the Duke of Portland's, it must have had a place of prominence in the Martin library a century ago - most likely on the broad, open shelf of the library table.

As "the finest color-plate book of ornithology ever produced," the exceedingly rare "double elephant" edition is still fetching seven figures - that's more than one nest egg for most.

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