Item 26 is an inscribed copy of one of the greatest works ever produced in America, John James Audubon's The Birds of America. Offered is the first octavo edition, seven volumes published 1840-1844. Audubon had first published his double elephant folio edition in the 1830's, but it was so expensive (then and now) it was out of reach of all but a small number of people. The smaller royal octavo was sufficiently affordable to sell many more copies, thereby providing Audubon with the financial security he previously lacked. The illustrations, if somewhat smaller, are still spectacular, and the set contains 500 of them, hand colored. Two of the volumes were inscribed by Audubon on June 8, 1844, to Lydia E. E. Greene, one stating, “with the affectionate wishes of her friend and servant,” the other with “may God bless her.” They were inscribed in Boston, while Ms. Greene was a woman of some substance, having had an uncle who was successful in the shipping business, and being a member of the Boston Athenaeum. One can guess she was a lover of books who supported Audubon's endeavors. $165,000.
This next item may not seem like a literary masterpiece, but in a way it is. In the 1950's, educators were trying to deal with the fact that many children showed little interest in reading. One of those was Theodore Geisel. Geisel, however, already had a good idea of what was wrong. Schools foisted such miserable books as the “Dick and Jane” series on children to teach them reading. Among the many words that could be spoken about these two fictional children, the one that first comes to mind is “boring.” Geisel was not boring. Writing under the name Dr. Seuss, he produced a group of books that made children want to read, rather than forcibly endure it. All of his works are entertaining, but of them all, the “masterpiece” is probably this one – The Cat in the Hat. Item 76 is a first edition from 1957, with an inscription from the good doctor. $20,000.