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AUDUBON, John James, & John Bachman.

The Quadrupeds of North America.

New York: V. G. Audubon, 1852-54-54 Stock Code: 128407
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"A breathtaking accomplishment... the most naturalistic depiction of American mammals ever done"

Early octavo edition. The naturalist and painter John James Audubon (1785-1851) had made his reputation with The Birds of America (published between 1827 and 1839), widely regarded as the finest illustrated book ever produced, with record-breaking auction prices to match. In the early 1840s, while the octavo edition of The Birds was still in the press, Audubon begun the present equally imposing project, seeking to paint every North American quadruped species. For this end, and despite his age and health, Audubon travelled across North America, including British and Russian territories, the USA and parts of Mexico, collecting specimens to use as models for his paintings. The accompanying text was produced by John Bachman (1790-1874), a pastor who had studied quadrupeds since he was a young man and who was recognised as an authority on the subject in the United States. The project exhausted Audubon, and after 1846 his deteriorating eyesight and mental state led to his two sons completing the project.

The work first appeared in three folio volumes, 1845-8. In order to reach a wider audience, the family then prepared this edition in octavo, which was issued in 31 parts, and subsequently in bound volumes, 1849-54. Audubon died in 1851 before he could see the octavo edition completed. His Quadrupeds of North America is near-universally seen as "a breathtaking accomplishment... the most naturalistic depiction of American mammals ever done" (Legacies of Genius 128).

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3 volumes, large octavo (261 x 176 mm). Early 20th-century blue half morocco by P. B. Stanford, spines lettered and blocked in gilt, blue cloth sides, marbled endpapers, gilt edges.


Illustrated with 155 hand-finished lithographic plates, with tissue-guards.


Half-titles present. Morocco discreetly refurbished with restoration to former wear, some foxing, some tissue-guards formerly detached and tipped in, some others absent or lightly chipped, a few short closed tears, p. 273 of vol. II with paper repaired with some loss to text, plates 65 and 66 previously detached (subsequently creased and soiled), repaired at head and laid down, small hole-punch to plates 86-89. A very good set.


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