Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2014 Issue

New Books on Audubon's Birds, Rampant Lions

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An English perspective on John James Audubon.

John James Audubon is undoubtedly the best known illustrator of American natural history, its birds in particular. As such, some may be surprised to learn that his success was dependent upon the reception he received in England. While the early response to his drawings was lukewarm in America, it was enthusiastic in England. Without it, America's great ornithologist and artist might well have been consigned to obscurity, a talent unappreciated and lost to history.

 

Christine E. Jackson, a professional librarian and author of books on ornithological art and illustration, recently published a book entitled John James Audubon: An English Perspective. It illuminates his years in England, locating a publisher, gathering the subscriptions needed to finance his massive undertaking, and supervising the production of the classic first edition of his Birds of America. This massive, double elephant folio book, published in installments, was expensive to produce and expensive to buy. For many years, until last fall's sale of a copy of the Bay Psalm Book, it held the record for the most expensive printed book ever sold at auction, one copy exceeding $11 million. Indeed, it would take a later publication of a smaller, more affordable octavo edition for Audubon to finally make some real money from his amazing creation.

 

Audubon was born in the French Caribbean, but emigrated to America. He tried his hand at a few things, but art was his strength. His naturalist interests, particularly with America's birds, led him to begin drawing these animals. It became something of an obsession. In the early 1820's, he set about the task of seeking examples of every American bird he could find, sometimes spending months in the wilderness. His aim was to create his great book. However, his project was coolly received in America. One of those who recognized his talent was French ornithologist Charles Lucien Bonaparte, nephew of Napoleon, living in exile in America. He encouraged Audubon to bring his wares to England, which he did in 1826. So begins the era covered by this new book.

 

Audubon would spend the years from 1826-1839 partly in England, partly in America. His time in England was devoted to producing and promoting his book. His visits to America would enable him to seek out and draw more birds. Ms. Jackson looks at his time in England. It was there that he met some of the most important and influential people of the time, industrialists, professionals, artists, and naturalists. He was taken to philanthropic organizations and met with members of British high society. It enabled him to make his pitch for subscribers, whose financing was essential for the book's production. Along with drumming up business, Audubon spent his time overseeing the book's production, including a crew of illustrators who provided the color to his drawings.

 

Ms. Jackson's book not only looks in detail at Audubon in England, but at the lives and careers of his English subscribers and friends, often prominent members of British society. This provides a better understanding of the times and Audubon's place in them. Additionally, the book provides information about his wife, Lucy Green Bakewell, and her family. Mrs. Audubon was born and raised in England, emigrating to America in her teens.

 

The author may be reached at the following email address: cejacksonbirdart@waitrose.com

 

The Oak Knoll Press has published an account of The Rampant Lions Press. A Narrative Catalogue. It is both a history and a bibliography. The Rampant Lions Press was formed in 1924 by Will Carter. Will was only 12 years old at the time, so it took a bit of time to get really rolling. Carter moved the press to Cambridge, England, in 1934, and in 1936, it published its first book. By 1948, Carter was able to turn the press into a full-time business.

 

For the next 60 years, Rampant Lions was one of England's most notable fine presses. All of its books were printed by letterpress, handmade paper being the norm. In the 1960's, Will was joined by his son, Sebastian. Together, they continued until Will's passing in 2001 at the age of 88. Sebastian then operated the press alone until 2008, when he retired. Sebastian Carter is the author and compiler of this history of the Rampant Lions Press. It has been divided into the press' four eras: 1924-1941, 1942-1963, 1964-1990, and 1991-2008. Within these eras, it describes all of the 321 books printed by the press. Its files, now housed by the Cambridge University Library, were used to provide the detailed information. The book contains 130 black and white illustrations plus 16 pages in color.

 

The book may be ordered from Oak Knoll by emailing them at orders@oakknoll.com or calling 800-996-2556. The price is $65.  

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Adams (Richard). <i>Watership Down,</i> FIRST EDITION, author inscription on front free end paper, folded map tipped in, original boards, dust-jacket. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Bowles (John). <i>Several Prospects of the Most…la Ville de Londres, avec des Remarques Historiques fort Succinctes, qui les Regardant,</i> 20 double page engraved plates only, of 23, 1724. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Auden (W.H.). <i>Our Hunting Fathers,</i> FIRST SEPARATE EDITION, 1 of 22 copies, COPY B OF 5 PRINTED ON NORMANDIE, original patterned wrappers, Cambridge, for Frederic Prokosch, 1935. £800 to £1200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Barrie (J. M.) & Attwell (Mabel Lucie, illustrator). <i>Peter Pan & Wendy,</i> FIRST EDITION, 12 chromolithograph plates, publisher's blue cloth, original printed dust jacket, [c.1920]; and 3 others (4). £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Bartolozzi (Francesco). Genius Calling Forth the Fine Arts to Adorn Manufactures and Commerce; Agriculture (Husbandry Aided by Arts and Commerce), glazed and framed. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> A collection of engraved caricatures, including Gillray ([James]) Tales of Wonder!, 1802; Rowlandson (Thomas) Sports, Smock Racing, 1811;Irish Jaunting Carr, 1814. £400 to £600
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Bennett (Charles H, illustrator). <i>Æsop’s Fables,</i> 1875; Buchanan (Robert). <i>Ballad Stories of the Affections,</i> [1866]; Douce (Francis), The Dance of Death, 1833. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Chinese Illustrations. A group of 6 Cantonese rice paper illustrations, depicting scenes of torture with different instruments, gouache, c.340 x 220mm, original wrapper boards preserved, [c. 1800]. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Dulac (Edmund). <i>The Queen of Romania, The Dreamer of Dreams,</i> 5 coloured plates, [1915]; and others illustrated by Edmund Dulac. £300 to £400
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Fronth (Per). Xingu Chronicles, the portfolio, comprising 30 plates, photogravues in colours, each signed, dated and titled in pencil, each numbered 10/35, on wove paper, 790 x 600 x 60mm, 1997. £300 to £400
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Pasternak (Boris). <i>Doctor Zhivago,</i> FIRST ENGLISH EDITION, original red publisher’s cloth, pictorial dust jacket, 4to, Collins & Harvill Press, 1958. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> 13 sepia photographs of visitors to the Thermes Nationaux d’Aix-les-Bains, c. 150 x 105mm, c.1890 (12). £300 to £400
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>

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