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>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Francis Scott Key, <i>Star Spangled Banner,</i> first printing, c. 1814-16. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> William Sydney Porter, a.k.a. “O. Henry,” archive of drawings made to illustrate a lost mining memoir, c. 1883-84. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> [Bay Psalm Book], printed for Hezekiah Usher of Boston, Cambridge, c. 1648-65. $50,000 to $75,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Noticia estraordinario,</i> probable first announcement in Mexico City of the fall of the Alamo, 1836. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Patrick Gass, first edition of earliest first-hand account of the Lewis and Clarke expedition, Pittsburgh, 1807. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Diploma from the Princeton Class of 1783, commencement attended by Washington & Continental Congress. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Sprague Light Cavalry!</i> color-printed broadside, NY, 1863. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>The Lincoln & Johnson Union Campaign Songster,</i> Philadelphia, 1864. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Lucy Parsons, labor organizer, albumen cabinet card, New York, 1886. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Daniel L.F. Swift, journal as third mate on a Pacific Whaling voyage, 1848-1850. $3,000 to $4,0000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Two photos of Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon, silver prints, 1901. $1,500 to $2,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Helvelius. Two Autograph Letters Signed to Francis Aston, Royal Society Secretary, noting his feud with Robert Hooke, 5 pp total, 1685. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Newton, Isaac. Autograph manuscript on God, 4 pp, c.1710, "In the beginning was the Word...."?$100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. First edition, first issue. Untrimmed copy in contemporary boards. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Signed photograph, beardless portrait with Civil War provenance. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> IMPEACHMENT. Original engrossed copy of the first Andrew Johnson impeachment resolution vote. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Mucha, Alphonse. 11 original pencil drawings for?<i>Andelicek z Baroku,</i> "Litte Baroque Angel," Prague, 1929. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Einstein, Albert. Annotated Galley Proofs for <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Silverstein, Shel. Original maquette for <i>The Giving Tree,</i> 34 original drawings. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Roth, Philip. Typed Manuscript with substantial autograph corrections for an unpublished sequel to <i>The Breast.</i> $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Taupin, Bernie. Autograph Manuscript, the original draft of lyrics for Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," 2 pp, 1973. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. <i>De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Padua: 1643. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> CESALPINO, ANDREA. <i>Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque.</i> Venice: 1571. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Leon TOLSTOÏ. <i>Anna Karenina.</i> Moscou, 1878. First and full edition of the Russian novel, in the author’s language.<br>Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Mark TWAIN. <i>Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's comrade).</i> New York, 1885. First American edition.<br>Est. 5 000 / 6 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Walt WHITMAN. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> Brooklyn, New York, 1856. Second edition gathering 32 poems. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Karen BLIXEN. <i>Out of Africa.</i> Londres, 1937. First edition in the UK, before Danish translation and American release.<br>Est. 1 500 / 2 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Ernest HEMINGWAY. <i>A Farewell to Arms.</i> New York, 1929. First edition with $2.50 on the dust and A on the copyright page.<br>Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Ulysses.</i> Paris, Shakespeare and Company, 1922. First edition published by Sylvia Beach. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Dubliners.</i> Londres, 1914. First edition. Nice copy in publisher’s cardboard. Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Franz KAFKA. 8 novels in German first edition, published in München, Leipzig and Berlin 1916-1931. Est. from 300 / 400 to 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> David Herbert LAWRENCE. <i>Lady Chatterley's Lover.</i> Florence, 1928. Privately printed first edition. Est. 4 000 / 5 000 €
    John STEINBECK. <i>The Grapes of Wrath.</i> New York, 1939. First edition. Nice copy with $2.75 on the cover. Est. 1 000 / 1 200 €

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