Audubon's desire to make his work more affordable and widely available prompted him to begin the first Octavo edition, printed and hand colored by J.T. Bowen in Philadelphia. One-eighth the size of the original engravings of Birds of America, these miniatures exhibit a remarkable amount of attention to quality and detail, as well as a meticulous fidelity to the larger works.
Employing a new invention called the camera lucida, the images were reduced in size and then drawn onto lithographic stones. Some compositional changes were made, in order to accommodate the smaller size. Audubon's first Octavo edition, like the Havell edition, was sold by subscription and distributed five at a time. However, unlike the double elephant originals, the lithographs were issued in correct species, or phylogenic order. These prints also bear the plate number in the upper right hand corner and the subscription number in the upper left.
The first edition of approximately 1,200 sets was completed in five years (1839-1844). Though the first edition remains the most desirable, several Octavo editions of both birds and quadrupeds were produced. The second edition was published by Audubon's son, Victor Gifford Audubon. We offer a large selection of prints from the Octavo editions.