John Audubon's Illustrated Expedition to make $120,000?

A first edition copy of John Woodhouse Audubon's Illustrated Notes of an Expedition through Mexico and California is valued at $80,000-120,000 ahead of a sale at Bonhams San Francisco.

The book is one of the headline lots of a major auction of Western Americana.

Published in 1852, it documents the author's travels in Texas and Mexico en route to the California gold fields.

Woodhouse expedition Bonhams
Audubon's Illustrated Notes failed to attract enough subscribers and fell into obscurity

John Woodhouse Audubon (1812-1862) was the son of the famous naturalist and illustrator John James Audubon, whose Birds of America ranks among the greatest masterpieces of the 19th century.

He explains his fascination with the new frontier: "I was so enchanted with the wild beauty of this country, that I could have stayed for weeks and months to enjoy it; it was all new, the hills and mountains were differently shaped from any I had ever seen, the plants were new, the trees and rocks all strange, and when we forded the beautiful creeks we had to cross, as our horses stopped to drink, curious fish came to look at their noses rippling the surface of the slowly-gliding pools in each little river."

Unfortunately for Audubon, only two copies of the work were sold on publication, meaning the planned second volume never materialised. Bonhams describes the work as "one of the great 'might-have-beens' in Western Americana".

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