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Audubon: Birds of America

JOHN JAMES AUDUBON'S keenness of observation and passion for nature are forever captured in his greatest achievement, The Birds of America. With this work Audubon launched a vigorous revolt against the stodgy methods of other great bird artists of his day who drew stuffed birds—virtual mummies in unnatural poses. Audubon studied birds in the wild and drew them in their natural habitat, giving them a dramatic breath of life. As a youth he did little else but ramble on his father's estate, study and draw birds—much to his father's disappointment and despair that his son would ever amount to anything. Throughout the world, Audubon's work is renowned for its great accuracy, naturalness, and sheer beauty. He is considered to be one of America's immortals.

Audubon insisted upon life-sized drawings; this resulted in the original's double-elephant folio size. The project took more than a decade to complete, which entailed careful, meticulous transition from drawings to engravings to finished hand-colored plates. The completed set of 435 plates was bound into four volumes. Less than 200 sets were originally published in 1838 and sold by subscription. Few complete sets of the original volumes exist today. In April 1992, one set was auctioned for more than four million dollars.

THE AMSTERDAM EDITION is the first complete reprint of Audubon's magnificent Double Elephant Folio of The Birds of America. This edition of 250 numbered sets was published in Amsterdam in 1971-1972. 

 Using the original set sold by J.J. Audubon to the Teyler Museum in the early 1800s, this edition was supervised by an international panel of noted ornithologists and Audubon experts. Each plate was printed on custom-made 100% cotton, water-marked paper, retaining images of outstanding quality and beauty. This edition, increasingly sought after by collectors and institutions, is becoming scarce. THE LEIPZIG EDITION was published in 1973, just one year after the Amsterdam Edition. This edition is particularly distinctive because of the very fine color printing. Each double-elephant folio sheet went through the press 9 times. There were only 50 plates produced of the total 435 plates. The limitation was 500 copies; 250 for the United States and 250 for Europe.