Got a spare £6.5 million ($10 million) knocking about? Like drawings of North American birds (the flying kind, you perv)? Then may we suggest you turn your attention to an auction at Christie’s in New York this Friday, where a copy the world’s most expensive book, a first edition of James Aubodon’s The Birds of America is set to go on sale.
Apparently only 200 first editions of this four-volume masterpiece were printed, making these elephantine three-and-a-half foot tall books, created over 11 years between 1827 and 1838, something of a collector’s item. Moreover, of those 200 books, Christies believe only 120 survive and that 107 are housed in museums and galleries.
The books consist of 435 hand-coloured, life-sized bird prints, and while some critics have derided Aubodon’s drawings and others point to his controversial methods in obtaining the birds (he killed them), others have declared the book to be a landmark in ornithology.
The last copy to go to auction sold for a world record £7.3 million ($11.2 million) in London in 2010, so the minimum price for this copy – being sold by heirs of the 4th Duke of Portland – is expected to be set at £4.5 million ($6.9 million).
Probably worth having a peek in your loft tonight – see if there’s any antique books of birds up there.