December 8, 2010

A Rare, and EXPENSIVE, Bird!


Put your wallet away. The holiday gift you were planning for that bird-watching someone in your life, has just been sold — for $11.5 million dollars, no less, a record price for a printed book. According to a Reuters report:

One of the few privately owned copies of John James Audubon‘s richly illustrated “Birds of America” sold for 7.3 million pounds in London on Tuesday, smashing the auction record for a printed book.

The work was part of Sotheby’s sale of manuscripts, books and drawings from the collection of Lord Hesketh, who died in 1955.

The  monumental four-volume work  had been estimated to sell for 4-6 million pounds. Only 119 copies of the book are known to exist, and only 11 copies are currently held  in private hands.

The buyer was a London dealer, Michael Tollemache. After successfully bidding on the book, he described it as “priceless.”

The book contains 1,000 hand painted illustrations of about 500 breeds of American birds and took Audubon 12 years to complete.

Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.