1840s Audubon 1st Royal Octavo Edition Hand Colored Wood Duck1840s Audubon 1st Royal Octavo Edition Hand Colored Wood Duck1840s Audubon 1st Royal Octavo Edition Hand Colored Wood Duck1840s Audubon 1st Royal Octavo Edition Hand Colored Wood Duck1840s Audubon 1st Royal Octavo Edition Hand Colored Wood Duck1840s Audubon 1st Royal Octavo Edition Hand Colored Wood Duck1840s Audubon 1st Royal Octavo Edition Hand Colored Wood Duck1840s Audubon 1st Royal Octavo Edition Hand Colored Wood Duck1840s Audubon 1st Royal Octavo Edition Hand Colored Wood Duck1840s Audubon 1st Royal Octavo Edition Hand Colored Wood Duck1840s Audubon 1st Royal Octavo Edition Hand Colored Wood Duck1840s Audubon 1st Royal Octavo Edition Hand Colored Wood Duck1840s Audubon 1st Royal Octavo Edition Hand Colored Wood Duck1840s Audubon 1st Royal Octavo Edition Hand Colored Wood Duck1840s Audubon 1st Royal Octavo Edition Hand Colored Wood Duck1840s Audubon 1st Royal Octavo Edition Hand Colored Wood Duck1840s Audubon 1st Royal Octavo Edition Hand Colored Wood Duck

In spite of his father’s help in setting him up in a lucrative career in lead mining, John James Audubon’s (1785-1851) true professional calling didn’t come to fruition until 1826, when he was a 41-year-old family man with two living children. Audubon was fortunate to have a family who not only supported him in business, but his artistic talents were also encouraged and nurtured by his parents and his understanding wife. Audubon spent many months and years on numerous trips to draw and document the birds of America. He availed himself to art lessons and new painting techniques in addition to taxidermy and preservation skills to stage the species as models for his drawings. Many times he’d earn money by drawing portraits or landscapes for wealthy families while he was on his travels. His very supportive wife, Lucy Bakewell Audubon, was a trained teacher, and she “took on” students to bring in money during her husband’s explorations.

Over the years, Audubon destroyed many of his earlier drawings as he advanced his skills in documenting birds, but, finally, in 1824 he had over 300 drawings collected, returning to Philadelphia to seek a publisher for his art. Being rebuffed by the scientists at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, he couldn’t find a publisher. In 1826, with his collection in tow, he sailed from New Orleans to Liverpool, England in search of a publisher. The British couldn’t get enough of his images of “backwoods America and its natural attractions,” and were “met with great acceptance.” He soon raised enough money to begin publishing his now 435 hand-colored, life-size prints made from engraved copper plates. They were printed on double elephant sheets measuring 39” x 26”, making for a huge folio. This highly successful initial edition of Birds of America was engraved in aquatint by Robert Havel, Jr.

Following the success of Birds of America, Audubon decided to issue a smaller version that would be more accessible to the public and would include additional, newly-discovered species. This second bird folio would be on 1/8 the size of paper as the larger Birds of America, with prints measuring 6 ½” x 10 ½”. He called this new endeavor The Royal Octavo Edition of Birds of America, comprising 500 black-line lithographed and hand-colored plates by J. T. Bowen, published in 100 sets of 5 each between 1840-1844. They were sold as a subscription, which when completed filled seven volumes for the subscriber to study. Around 1200 complete subscriber sets were published during this time. John Audubon personally oversaw the publication of this first edition, serving as his own publisher.

The print that we offer is from Audubon’s First Royal Octavo Edition. It is the 10 ½” x 6 ½” Plate 391, Wood Duck, Summer Duck. The paper is substantial, and even though the hand coloring is in muted colors, they are very crisp and precise. At the top left is No. 79, which indicates that this was the 79th subscriber’s installment. At the bottom left it states: Drawn from Nature by J. J, Audubon, FRSFLS, which indicates that he was a Fellow, Royal Society, Fellow Linnaean Society. Bottom right: Lith’d Printed & Col’d by J. T. Bowen. At the bottom, just above the bird identification are the initials C.P., indicating who actually traced the drawing onto the lithograph stone for the black line print. It is in excellent condition with no tears or spots. This is a real treasure.

Audubon only lived long enough to oversee this project. There were several other octavo editions that were mainly supervised by Audubon’s son, but prints in subsequent editions were done with tinted lithographic-wash backgrounds, and the lettering was in block instead of italics.

We do also have another print from the 1st Royal Octavo edition, Carolina Parrot (pictured in last photo).

These prints have been in demand by discriminating decorators for generations, and this would be a fabulous addition to any collection or décor. Please contact us if you have any questions. Please look at the photos closely, they are part of the description of the item. We will always consider any reasonable offer for our pieces.

Because of a court ruling, Ruby Lane is having to collect sales tax from buyers who live in states that impose a sales tax.

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We estimate shipping/handling costs on the high side and will gladly refund the overage to you if you pay by PayPal. Alternate shipping fees may be checked out in the drop down shipping box to the right of the listing.

ITEM ID
JERO-ART-octduck
AGE
Early 19th Century
THEME
Birds
MEDIA
Etching, Lithograph, Watercolor
ORIGIN
United States • American
ITEM TYPE
Antique

1840s Audubon 1st Royal Octavo Edition Hand Colored Wood Duck

$885


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    Janel Ponder Smith
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