New York: V.G. Audubon, 1849-1854. Three large octavo volumes. 155 handcolored lithographed plates by W.E. Hitchcock and R. Trembly after J.J. and John Wodehouse Audubon. Contemporary three-quarter black morocco and cloth, spines gilt. Third volume expertly rebacked, with original backstrip laid down. Minor wear to extremities, front hinge of second volume tender. Internally clean. Very good plus, with tissue guards facing the plates, preserving the fine hand-coloring and preventing the offsetting typically seen with this set. Item #WRCAM54839
An attractive set of the first octavo edition of Audubon's final great natural history work, with plates and descriptions of the quadrupeds of the United States including Texas, California, and Oregon, as well as part of Mexico, the British and Russian possessions and Arctic regions. Audubon's collaborator on THE QUADRUPEDS was the naturalist and Lutheran clergyman, John Bachman, who had studied quadrupeds since he was a young man and was a recognized authority on the subject in the United States. The two began their association when Audubon stayed with Bachman and his family in Charleston for a month in 1831. This friendship was later cemented by the marriage of Victor and John W. Audubon to Bachman's daughters, Maria and Eliza. Audubon knew Bachman's contribution to THE QUADRUPEDS would be crucial, and endeavored to convince his friend to lay aside his fears about the project. Audubon was eager to begin what he felt could be his last outstanding achievement in natural history, but Bachman was more cautious and worried that they were entering a field where "we have much to learn." Audubon persisted in his efforts to get him to take part, and Bachman, "anxious to do something for the benefit of Victor and John [Audubon]," eventually relented, with the final condition that all of the expenses and all of the profits should go to the Audubons. By 1835, Bachman had become indispensable to the QUADRUPEDS project, writing most of the text and editing the entire work. With the success of the octavo edition of THE BIRDS OF AMERICA in mind, a similar edition of THE QUADRUPEDS... was envisaged from an early stage. The folio edition was published in thirty numbers between 1845 and 1854, and publication of the first octavo edition began in 1849 and was also completed in 1854. Unfortunately, Audubon did not live to see the completion of either project, and after his death in January 1851 the work was seen through to completion by his son, John Woodhouse Audubon. The two editions form a fitting memorial to the greatest natural history artist of his day. WOOD, p.208. REESE, STAMPED WITH A NATIONAL CHARACTER 38. BENNETT, p.5. NISSEN (ZBI) 163.