Birdman of Alcatraz atlas valued at $6,500

Christie's is to sell Birdman of Alcatraz Robert Stroud's copy of a bird atlas in its Out of the Ordinary sale in London on September 14.

The remarkable lot is valued at ?�3,000-5,000 ($3,912-6,520).

Birdman atlas chess
Robert Stroud was known as the Birdman of Alcatraz for his love of birds

Stroud (1890-1963), a former pimp, was jailed for the murder of a bartender in Alaska in 1909.

He was first incarcerated at McNeill Island in Puget Sound, but was moved to Leavenworth in 1916 after he killed a guard.

He spent the rest of his sentence in solitary confinement. One day he found a nest of injured sparrows in the exercise yard and began nursing them back to health.

Over the intervening years he developed his knowledge of ornithology, becoming an expert in the field.

He bred birds in his cell and even came up with cures for diseases that had foxed experts on the outside.

Despite his famous nickname, he was not allowed to keep birds while at Alcatraz. He transferred there in 1942 and remained on "the rock" until his health began to decline in 1959.

The book, Atlas of Avian Anatomy (1943), features a Stroud-drawn hand drawn chess board on the endpapers.  

Stroud became a formidable chess player during his final years, often challenging his guards and fellow inmates.

In 1955 he became a subject of a book by Thomas Gaddis that was later adapted into a film starring Burt Lancaster.

The lot originates from a larger set of materials relating to Stroud that sold for $12,000 at PBA Galleries in 1996. It's consigned from the collection of David Gainsborough Roberts.

Other lots in the sale include a set of keys from the Titanic.

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