Birds of America is still 'most valuable printed book ever auctioned' at $11.5m

The sale was billed as "the book auction event of the year" - and ornithologist John James Audubon's 19th century book Birds of America didn't disappoint when it went under the hammer at Sotheby's, yesterday (December 7).

Sotheby's London sale saw Birds of America confirm its position as the world's most expensive illustrated book. In the end, it sold for a World Record of £7.3m ($11.5m), a record price for any printed book at auction.

Needless to say, the work surpassed its £4m-6m pre-sale estimate and proved that John James Audubon's legacy is soaring high in the eyes of collectors and alternative investors.

Birds of America was written as Audubon travelled across America over a period of 12 years between 1827 and 1838. It is a comprehensive ornithological study featuring 435 hand-coloured engraved plates based on Audubon's original watercolours. 

You can find out more about Birds of America in our preview report on Sotheby's sale.


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