John James Audubon, Pl. 228 Yellow-billed Magpie, hand-colored lithograph, first edition octavo, 1839–44

$125 this week only (list price $200). Offer expires 4-24-2017

Laura Oppenheimer

John James Audubon, Pl. 228 Yellow-billed Magpie, hand-colored lithograph, first edition octavo, 1839–44

Acquire a superb first edition Audubon octavo print from the Birds of AmericaPlate 228, Yellow-billed Magpie, Corvus nuttalli, after John James Audubon, at a special discount from our already low prices. In this elegant composition, a male is depicted with a botanical called Platanus, most likely Platanus racemosa, a large tree native to California. Both the tree branch and Yellow-billed Magpie were depicted from specimens brought back from the far western United States by the naturalist Thomas Nuttall (1786–1859).

In the accompanying text in the Ornithological Biography, Audubon writes of the Yellow-billed Magpie, "I have conferred on this beautiful bird the name of a most zealous, learned, and enterprising naturalist, my friend Thomas Nuttall, Esq., to whom the scientific world is deeply indebted for many additions to our zoological and botanical knowledge, which have resulted from his labours. It is to him alone that we owe all that is known respecting the present species, which has not hitherto been portrayed. In a note inserted by him in my journal, he says:"

"As we proceed to the South in Upper California, around the village of Sta. Barbara, we find Common Magpie substituted by this remarkable species, which is much more shy and cautious, as well as more strictly insectivorous. It utters, however nearly if not not quite the same chatter. In the month of April they were everywhere,  mated, and had nearly completed their nests in the evergreen oaks of the vicinity (Querous agrifolia)." 

In perfect condition, this beautifully hand-colored royal octavo lithograph includes an archival mat and measures approximately10 x 6.75 inches.

References: John James Audubon, Ornithological Biography: Or An Account of the Habits of the Birds of the United States of America; Accompanied by Descriptions of the Objects Represented in the Work Entitled The Birds of America, and Interspersed with Delineations of American Scenery and Manners. Vol. IV, 1838, page 450.


$125 this week only (list price $200). Offer expires 4-24-17.


Click Here to Purchase


America’s most revered artist-naturalist, John James Audubon (1785–1851), is renowned for his extraordinary undertaking to record the birds of America. The images he created are icons of 19th-century art. Though fascinated by nature since childhood, studying and drawing from it, it was not until 1819, when Audubon was 34, that he fully embraced the life of an artist-naturalist. Having found his calling, he set out on a mission to create the Birds of America, exploring the American backwoods and wilderness to discover, record, and illustrate its avian life. Unable to find an engraver in the United States who could produce his great work in the size of life, that issue was resolved when he reached the shores of Great Britain. Together with London engraver, Robert Havell, J. J. Audubon and his family created the lavish double-elephant-size folio of The Birds of America, published from 1827–38.

To make The Birds of America more affordable and widely available, in 1839 Audubon began the first octavo edition, a smaller version of the folio which was printed and hand colored by J. T. Bowen in Philadelphia. Employing a new invention, the camera lucida, the images were reduced in size, rendered in intermediate drawings by Audubon and his son John Woodhouse, and then drawn onto lithographic stones. These miniatures exhibit a remarkable amount of attention to quality and detail, as well as a meticulous fidelity to the larger works. Some compositional changes were made in order to accommodate the smaller format.

Like the Havell edition, Audubon’s first octavo edition was sold by subscription and distributed in parts five at a time. However, the octavo editions were issued in proper phylogenic, or species 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 from 1839 to 1844.

Though the first edition remains the most desirable, several octavo editions of both the Birds and Quadrupeds were produced. In 1856, a second edition of the Birds was published by Audubon’s son, Victor Gifford. The octavo edition of The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America was first published between 1849 and 1854.

For further information or to purchase, please call the gallery at 312-642-5300.

Click Here to Purchase