Audubon’s ‘Birds of America’ folio brings $272,000

Neal Auction Company’s annual Louisiana Purchase Auction, Nov. 21-22 achieved $3.84 million and set many record prices.

A 1860 “Bien Edition Folio” of John James Audubon’s “Birds of America” (1826-1838), folio sold to a Louisiana collector bidding in the room for $271,999.

The folio was conceived by the artist’s younger son, John Woodhouse Audubon, seven years after his father’s death as a reissue of the 435 images of his father’s seminal work. The eruption of the Civil War, however, put an end to the ambitious project and only 15 of the 44 projected parts were ever produced. Neal Auction Company’s Bien Edition Folio, which consisted of the first 14 parts, attracted significant interest from around the country.

The edition is commonly referred to as “Bien” after the name of its chromolithographer, Julius Bien (American/New York, 1826-1909), a pioneer in the art of chromolithography.

The top lot was lot 245, “Norman’s Chart of the Lower Mississippi…,” after Marie Adrien Persac (b. France 1823, d. Manchac, Louisiana, 1873, active New Orleans 1857-1872) which came to the auction from the collection of the late Fisher E. Simmons Jr., a local authority on steamboat ephemera and postal history. After an intense bidding war between five telephone bidders, one absentee bid, and the saleroom floor, the 1858 chart map, commonly known as Norman’s Chart after the name of its publisher, sold to a Louisiana collector bidding on the telephone for the record price of $315,999.


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