AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851.
The Birds of America, from drawings made in the United States and their territories. New York & Philadelphia: Audubon and J.B.Chevalier, -1840-1844.
7 volumes. Royal octavo (265 x 168 mm). Half-titles, subscribers lists. 500 hand-colored lithographed plates after Audubon by W.E. Hitchcock, R. Trembley and others, printed by J.T. Bowen of Philadelphia (plates 1-135, 151-500) and George Endicott of New York (plates 136-150), numerous wood-engraved anatomical figures in text. Period dark green half morocco, gilt lettering and ruling to spines. Occasional spotting or staining to text but not usually affecting plates, offsetting from text to about 15 plates, some browning to plates 141-3, plates 293 and 310 slightly shaved, news-clipping tipped to p 150 in vol 4, bindings rebacked with the original spines laid down.
Provenance: Samuel Appleton (1766-1853, armorial bookplates); Edward A. Bangs and Outram Bangs (bookplates, vol I inscribed "A & Outram Bangs from A[nnie] O[utram] Bangs Feb 12th 1895".
THE FIRST OCTAVO EDITION OF AUDUBON'S "GREAT NATIONAL WORK" FROM THE LIBRARY OF OUTRAM BANGS,"ONE OF THE GREATEST ORNITHOLOGISTS THIS COUNTRY HAS EVER PRODUCED" (James L. Peters writing in The Auk vol 50, p 265). This is the first complete edition and the first American edition, and the last to be overseen by Audubon himself: the plates in this example are remarkably clean and almost entirely untouched by the usual spotting, browning or offsetting. The work, the most famous of all great American color-plate books, is one of the "most beautiful, popular, and important natural history books published in America in the nineteenth century ... representing the best of pre-Civil War American lithography and giving Audubon the opportunity finally to display his scholarship and genius to a large American audience for the first time" (Ron Tyler). Audubon created sixty-five new images for this octavo edition, supplementing the original 435 of the double-elephant folio edition of 1827-38. Although the printer J.T. Bowen of Philadelphia reduced the double-elephant plates using a camera lucida, the resulting lithographs still show significant changes in both the backgrounds and the compositions: changes that represent Audubon's final contributions to the images. The present set has a distinguished provenance, and occasional glimpses of the remnant of original blue paper wrappers indicate that it was bound from the original parts. It was initially owned by the philanthropist Samuel Appleton and then passed to the library of the ornithologist brothers,Edward and Outram Bangs of Boston. Outram Bangs [1863-1932, the younger of the two] had carved out a distinguished place for himself as an ornithologist of note. Following his death in September 1932, his obituary in The Auk for July 1933 ran to 11 pages. Bennett p 5; Fries, Appendix A; Nissen IVB 51; Reese Stamped With A National Character 34; Ripley 13; Ron Tyler Audubon's Great National Work (1993) Appendix I; Sabin 2364; Wood p 208; Zimmer p 22.