Sunday, 12 December 2010

Birds of America.

Goldeneye. Brian Rafferty

Thanks to BR for the image of the Goldeneye of which I estimated at least 80 on the River Lune at Glasson Dock last Thursday.

There was a rare chance to own one of the best preserved editions of a 19th century masterpiece in the shape of John James Audubon's Birds of America at Sotheby's the other day, with its 400 plus pages of hand-coloured illustrations. Birdlife Partner in the USA 'The National Audubon Society' are named after the books artist, the society is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife, and the habitat that supports them.

The plates printed in black and white were hand-coloured afterwards, they were made from engravings of Audubon's watercolours. The book measures more than 90cm x 60cm - I prefer 3ft x 2ft - because he wanted to print the birds life size. A fiery enthusiasm amongst four collectors bidding in the room and on telephones soon drove the price well beyond pre-sale expectations and the book was finally bought by a London dealer who - after the sale - described the work as priceless.

A director at Sotheby's said 'the book deserved the extraordinary price it achieved' adding 'It is a remarkable work, both in terms of its scale and of the dedication that went into producing it. To have handled such rare and splendid volumes has been a privilege and a joy'.

Today one in eight bird species are currently threatened with global extinction, and at least 33 bird species would have gone extinct in the last century including 16 during the last 15 years alone, without dedicated conservation actions of organisations the likes of Birdlife and The National Audubon Society.

Well - if like me - you may be wondering whether or not these people with such vast amounts of money ever actually focus their wealth on conservation action as well, so future generations don't just have to look at dusty old books....maybe they do. 

Oh by the way....the world's most expensive books final bid amounted to a staggering £7,321,250

And finally....

Red-breasted Merganser. Brian Rafferty

Another thanks to BR for an excellent action shot which I hope he won't mind my adding the caption 'Coming in to land'.

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING!....hopefully a little tomorrow.

1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

Bloody ridiculous amount of money for a book!

As you suggest , that amount of money could go to saving the birds that are illustrated in the book, much better to see them in real life :-)