John Gould's $81,000 Birds of Europe book perches at top of Cambridge auction

Experts on book collecting will never be surprised to hear that books on the natural history of birds can be valuable. After all, the most expensive book in the world is John James Audubon's Birds of America.

But of course, value is not limited to the US. Whilst not quite in the region of the £7.3m ($11.5m) paid at a Sotheby's auction, a book leading a Cambridge, UK auction of Specialist Books, Maps, Prints Sale is quite a substantial investment:

The Birds of Europe, in five volumes by John Gould, published in London by Richard and John E Taylor for the author in 1837 is presented here in folio form, complete with all 448 hand-coloured lithographed plates by Elizabeth Gould or Edward Lear.

Birds of Europe by John Gould
Birds of Europe by John Gould
(Click to enlarge)

Printed by C Hullmandel, the book has suffered some scattered spotting or foxing (most plates only lightly affected) some offsetting and the last plate to Volume III has a chewed lower fore-edge whilst Vol I's title has a small tear to the lower edge.

All edges are gilt and there is an old bookplate of J G Barclay to each volume paste down, all are finely bound by Clyde in green morocco gilt, but with some rodent damage and leather loss mainly around the borders and edges.

The book's provenance is a private collection in Cambridge, and it is expected to achieve £30,000 - £50,000 ($81,000). The book will sell at Cheffins on February 23 with full online bidding available.

 

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