The Who2 Blog

John J. Audubon’s Big Expensive Book(s)

They’re calling it “the world’s most expensive book”: A copy of John J. Audubon‘s Birds of America was sold at auction yesterday for about $11.5 million.

Read about the sale here at The Guardian.

It’s a big book. It’s actually four books, and they contain 435 prints — handpainted watercolors — that are about two feet by three feet.

From the 1820s or so, they say only 119 of these sets exist. John James Audubon traveled throughout the United States, hunting down specimens and then painting and describing them. To make a living he sold subscriptions to future editions of his catalogs.

According to Bloomberg News, the guy who bought the Audubon books is an art dealer in London named Michael Tollemache.

The Audubon Society has a scaled-down web version of the books here, but the illustrations haven’t nearly the eye-popping quality of the originals.

A better place to see some of the pretty pictures is here at the University of Pittsburgh. That’s where we grabbed this partial print of a Bewick’s Wren.

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