DEC 7: John James Audubon

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DEC 7: John James Audubon
Prints from Birds of America.

DEC 7: John James Audubon

In 1820 John James Audubon set out—shotgun and sketchbook in hand—to find and draw every species of bird in America. No small feat, it took him 12 years to finish; and the result, Birds of America, a massive tome filled with 435 prints depicting some 1,000 birds, currently ranks as the world’s most expensive book. Now, a decade after it sold at Christie’s for $8.8 million, the classic will go under the hammer again. On December 7 Sotheby’s in London will auction off another of the 119 known complete copies of the book, valued at upwards of $9.2 million. Not for the light of wallet, the sale of books, manuscripts, and drawings from the estate of Frederick, Second Lord Hesketh, also includes a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio, estimated at $2 million.

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