The Birds of America by John James Audubon was published as a series in sections between 1827 and 1838. The work consists of 435 hand-colored, life-size prints. They are made from engraved plates, measuring 99 x 66 cm (39″ x 26″.)
The original edition is not only one of the most expensive books in the world, but it is also the most common book among the most expensive books. In the Wikipedia list of most expensive books and manuscripts, it is included three times with prices ranging from $8.6 million to $13.2 million.
Only 119 complete copies of the original print run are known to exist now.
If you are not ready to pay $13 000 000 for the book, you can find a modern copy on Amazon. Or just visit the Liverpool Central Library.
Other Places to Find the Book
There are other ways to see the original book as well.
- Multnomah County Library Wilson Collection in Portland, OR (United States) has a complete original print.
- Going east, The Birds of America is on permanent display in Trinity College’s Watkinson Library in Hartford, CT (United States).
- The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Glasgow (Scotland) holds one volume which is on display in the library. The college offers a digital copy of the book as well.
- A digitized version may be browsed on the Digital Commonwealth website – a portal of Massachusetts Collections. However, as the Boston Public Library has in its collection two incomplete copies, the digitized versions are incomplete as well.
- Another digital copy was made by the Toronto Public Library.
You may find information about some of the other complete copies of the book in the Wikipedia article dedicated to The Birds of America. However, not all of them are permanently available to the general audience.
- The Birds of America – Wikipedia
- List of most expensive books and manuscripts – Wikipedia
- The World’s Most Expensive Bird Books – National Audubon Society
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