John James Audubon

The Birds of America
Amsterdam edition (1971-72)

A French-American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter, Audubon was notable for his expansive studies to document all types of American birds, and for his detailed illustrations that depicted the birds in their natural habitats. His major work, a color-plate book entitled The Birds of America (1827–1839), is considered one of the finest ornithological works ever completed.


The Audubon Amsterdam Edition (1971-72), represents the first full size printed edition of Audubon's The Birds of America (1826-1838) since its original printing in the mid-19th Century. It reproduces all 435 of Audubon's original plates on double-elephant folio size paper. Audubon's original 19th century four volume set, The Havell Edition, has the distinction of being the world's most valuable printed book. A record price of $11.5 million was reached in December 2010.


The Havell edition was originally sold by subscription in the 1820’s for a price of $1,070 bound in four volumes, then a huge sum. It is estimated less than 180 complete sets were printed; today fewer than 120 sets still exist, with only 13 in private collections.


The firms of Theatrum Orbis Terrarum Ltd. of Amsterdam and the Johnson Reprint Corporation of New York developed the Amsterdam Edition in the 1970’s. The Teyler Museum of Holland loaned their original Birds of America copy to be photographed and printed. It is printed on custom made wove paper by G. Schut & Zonen, papermakers since 1625, using 100% unbleached cotton rag. The full watermarked sheet measures approximately 26 1/2" x 39 1/2" corresponding to the full sheet size of the 19th century originals.


The Amsterdam Edition was limited to 250 copies and it is estimated that of those 250 sets, only 50-75 were bound. Many of those bound sets have now been broken and the plates dispersed. This complete set, bound in green cloth and brown leather with gilt author and title, is no.37.


An extremely rare collecting opportunity.


Price on Request

Haley & Steele 

162 Newbury Street, 2nd Floor    Boston, MA. 02116  Tel: (617) 536-6339