Philadelphia. Published by J.B. Chevalier.  1840-1844. The First Octavo Edition. Illustrated by 500 hand-coloured lithographic plates after Audubon by R. Trembly, W.E. Hitchcock et al. Exquisitely printed and coloured by J.T. Bowen. Seven Volumes,Complete as issued. Royal Octavo. 258mm x 171mm (10.125" x 6 .75"). Bound in full period, gilt decorated grain Morocco. Gilt embellished raised bands with gilt titles and decorative spine compartments. Gilt fleural border motifs to front and rear covers. Elaborate gilded fleural dentelles to inner edges. All Edges Gilded.
The success of Audubon's first Birds of America brought Audubon Worldwide acclaim. Following that success, he returned to America and set out to issue a smaller version that would include more birds (most newly discovered in the Western U.S.). He decided on a 1/8 or octavo sized sheet measuring about 6-1/2 x 10". He called this set The Royal Octavo Edition of Birds of America. The 1st Edition of 500 plates was lithographed and hand colored by J.T. Bowen in Philadelphia and New York from 1840-44. They were again sold by subscription, and issued in order by species in 100 sets of 5 each. It is estimated that from 1000-1200 complete sets were issued. No one knows how many complete sets and individual prints survive today. They are very popular and highly collectable.The 1st Royal Octavo Edition of Birds of America was completed under the direct supervision of J.J. Audubon." -Ron Flynn - A Brief Introduction to Audubon and the Original Editions.
Time has been kind to this set. Occasional, sporadic foxing and offset to text and tissue
guards, mainly at front and rear gatherings, most especially to Volume 1. Plates are generally amazingly bright, fresh and free of intrusions beyond an isolated patch or two of incidental mild foxing not extending into plate image. A very small number of plates present
a bit more salient but benign foxing and a further 4 plates revealing images which have been slightly intruded upon. Generally, a collection of crisp, clean, eminently bright images.
Vol. 1 - Text Block randomly foxed throughout. Covers mildly rubbed. Hinges Starting but firm.
Vol 2. - Text Block randomly foxed throughout. One tissue guard torn.Hinges rubbed and a bit tender. Mild rubbing to several corners.
Vol. 3 - Sporadic randomly foxed to text block and various Tissue Guards throughout, mainly to front and rear gatherings. Hinges rubbed and a bit tender. Rear Spine Backstrip partially detaching but firmly bound. Corners rubbed.
Vol. 4 - Sporadic randomly foxed to text block and various Tissue Guards throughout, mainly to front and rear gatherings. Spine shaken at later signature. Hinges rubbed and a bit tender. Corners rubbed.
Vol.5 - Sporadic randomly foxed to text block and various Tissue Guards throughout, mainly to front and rear gatherings. Rear Spine Backstrip partially etaching but firmly bound. A few instances of rubbing to Corners and Edges.
Vol.6 -Some occasional, minor foxing to text block. Hinges rubbed. Front Spine Backstrip just starting to detach, but firmly bound. Corners rubbed.
Vol. 7. Plate #471 mis-paginated at pg. 280 rather than pg. 264. Some occasional, minor foxing to text block. Front Spine Backstrip partially detaching but firmly bound. Some mild rubbing to edges and corners.
NOTE : Catalogued Incidences of Backstrip Detachment herein refer to only that portion of the Spine and is not indicative of any failure or compromise of the Binding itself. It should also be noted that conservancy/repair of this condition is a simple one... which we leave to the discretion and desires of the subsequent new owners.