Books and Manuscripts $12.85 million
John James Audubon’s The Birds of America had an original print run of 175 to 200 editions, with 120 having survived. Of that, 107 are in the collections of institutions and 13 are in private hands. One of those 13 editions, owned by the fourth Duke of Portland, arrived at auction
during Christie’s Books and Manuscripts sale on June 14. The full set is made up of four volumes of doubleelephant folios with 435 handcolored copperplate etchings and five bound text volumes, known as the Ornithological Biography.the works are elegantly bound and gilded by royal English bookbinder John Mackenzie. Based on the binding and other markings, it is estimated that the book set was purchased by the fourth Duke of Portland,william Henry Cavendish-scottbentinck (1768-1854), who was passionate about natural history. The edition sold for $9,650,000, within its presale estimate of $8 million to
$12 million, to become the second-highest price at auction for a full folio-set.
John James Audubon (1785-1851), Blue Jay engraving from The Birds of America; from Original Drawings. London: Published by the author, 1827-1838. The Duke of Portland set. Courtesy Christie’s. Estimate: $8/12 million SOLD: $9,650,000