Archive for March, 2017
John James Audubon’s illustrated book, Birds of America, is one of the most famous scientific treatises in the world. Produced in London in the 1820s and 1830s, the original edition was enormous, measuring 39 by 26 inches. Thanks to a generous gift from Dr. and Mrs. Henry R. Liss in 2001, the Newark Museum possesses the first Octavo edition (10 by 7 inches), published between 1840 and 1844, a more manageable set of seven volumes. Two of these volumes are on display in the Museum’s “Seeing America” galleries. Known for its high aesthetic qualities and scientific accuracies, Birds of America quickly became the leading source of information on American ornithology.
Following this work, Audubon turned his attention to the mammals of North America, collaborating with a gentleman naturalist, the Rev. John Bachman of Charleston, South Carolina. Bachman wrote the text and supplied the scientific expertise; Audubon and his sons produced the artwork. Together they published a large-format set of three volumes in the late 1840s and early 1850s, which became renowned for the high quality of its color illustrations. A smaller edition under the title, The Quadrupeds of North America, came off the presses in 1849, 1851 and 1853 (volumes 1, 2 and 3, respectively).
This Royal Octavo edition of The Quadrupeds of North America was recently given to the Newark Museum’s Library and Archives by Patricia C. Locke in memory of her husband, Richard S. Locke, an eagle scout who grew up in the city but was enamored of the outdoors. These handsomely bound volumes with their gold-embossed covers contain 155 hand-colored, full-page lithographs of exceptional beauty. In their introduction, Audubon and Bachman wrote: “We have endeavored…to place before the public a series of plates, which are not only scientifically correct, but interesting to all, from the varied occupations, expressions, and attitudes, we have given to the different species, together with the appropriate accessories, such as trees, plants, landscapes, etc…with which the animals are relieved.”
— William A. Peniston, Ph.D., Librarian/Archivist