Oppenheimer Editions presents the first complete facsimile edition of the 1858 chromolithographic printing of Audubon's Birds of America. The source set for these images is a remarkable original copy in the Oppenheimer collection. All 105 prints are available individually. Complete sets are available upon request.
The Bien Edition is the one of the first great examples of chromolithography in America and remains among the finest examples of this medium ever produced. Although the exact number of Bien Edition folios made is unknown, it is the scarcest of all Audubon original editions.
Seven years after their fathers' death, Audubon's sons began an American edition of Birds of America with Julius Bien, a New York printer who was pioneering the field of chromolithography. Bien transferred the images from Havell's copper plates onto lithographic stones. Then as many as thirty printing stages, with additional hand engraving and coloring, were used to reproduce the subtleties of the original engravings. Also of double-elephant dimensions, these sheets represent one of the first successful employments of the chromolithographic process and remain as one of its finest examples.
The Bien Edition, also sold by subscription, was begun in 1858. Production was brought to a sudden halt by the advent of the Civil War. Only 150 plates were ever completed. The Audubon family, unable to sell the edition or recoup their losses, found their fortune greatly diminished.
Subsequently, Lucy Audubon sold 433 original paintings used for the Havell engravings to the New York Historical Society for $4,000. This collection today would be priceless since many of the individual paintings are worth in excess of one million dollars.