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Collecting
Audubons
Biography of
John James Audubon

All About
Audubons

Conditions
of Sale

The Birds of America,
Havell Edition

The Birds of America,
Bien Edition

The Birds of America,
Royal Octavo Edition

The Birds of America, Amsterdam Edition

The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America

The Quadrupeds of North America

The Natural History of
Carolina, etc., Catesby

Audubon and Natural
History Books

The Birds of America, Abbeville, Ariel, and Princeton Editions Natural History Collectibles The Viviparous Quadrupeds
 of North America

Southart-Parkway Edition

All About Audubons

The most frequent question I get about Audubon is from the individual who has an Audubon print and is trying to determine if it is an original.  To be authentic and in its original condition, the Havell series must measure about 26 x 37 inches, have a plate mark, depict the bird life-size, and have a J. Whatman watermark along the long edge of the sheet.  Sometimes this watermark is cut away and the larger size paper is trimmed to the platemark.

In such cases a magnification loupe must be used to determine if the work is an engraving, lithograph or offset color reprint.  The Havell engraving will appear without the offset pattern seen on lithographs.

Many thousands of Audubon prints have been reprinted over the years as the work is without copyright.  Most of these reproductions are photos of an original, thus they have the plate numbers and Audubon's and Havell's names just as the originals.  Of course, if somewhere on the bottom of the print it reads "copyright", "printed by" or "courtesy of" then it is not an original.

Throughout the web site I have attempted to describe each series. The Havell and Bowen prints of the animals and birds are the only original series issued by Audubon during his lifetime.  The Bien edition is very important, as it was issued by his sons.  The later editions of the Bowen miniature bird series are all antique prints, and very nice and collectible, but not originals as in the case of the first edition which was completely hand colored.

Another factor to consider is the condition of the print.  If the print is trimmed, the colors are faded, the paper contains tears, stains or foxing, then the value of the print falls in relation to these conditions.  Since the Havells are 150 years old, such problems are all too common.

The best way to begin collecting is to read about the artist and his works.  In Audubon's case, you are lucky as his life took place in an exciting period of America's early history.  Many books have been written about Audubon and his own writings in the bird biographies, journals and letters are a relatively undiscovered national treasure.  In 1985 a number of special Audubon exhibitions were held around the country, a commemorative postage stamp was issued, and Audubon's life and works were featured in numerous magazines.  This observance, the 200th anniversary of his birth, focused attention on Audubon's life and art.

The study of Audubon’s life and how he published his work is a good start to learn “all about Audubons”!

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