J.J. Audubon (1785-1851) was America’s most famous bird artist, and his premier work was the double-elephant edition of Birds of America (1838) that was later issued in the smaller Octavo format as shown here.
This magnificent work, published by Robert Havell and Sons in Edinburgh and London (1827-1838), was very expensive to purchase in the 1820’s ($1000 per set) but Audubon managed to complete approximately 200 complete volumes of the work. To make Birds affordable to a much broader audience, Audubon worked with his publisher in New York, J.T. Bowen, to reduce the size of the plates and they produced the first Octavo size edition (1840-1844). The quality of the Octavo editions was excellent with beautiful hand-coloring; up to six different editions were published in the United States.