Prints: Audubon's Folio Birds
The term "restrike" refers exclusively to prints made at a later time from the original hand-made printing matrix as part of a separate publication event. It is distinguishable from a later edition in that later editions generally involve an overlap of personnel or publisher and are less separated in time. In the case of Audubon's birds, several restrikes have been published and distributed in the 20th and 21st century. Although the great majority of Havell plates were destroyed, 78 are known to have survived and a few have been used for restrike projects. There are no known Bien or octavo restrikes since these original stones were all destroyed in a warehouse fire around 1870. On this page, Minniesland.com offers a few of these rare prints for sale
AMNH/Alecto Historical Editions
PL 1 Wild Turkey (Male)
PL 6 Wild Turkey (Female and Young)
Among the many events that commemorated the 200th anniversary of Audubon's birth in 1985, one of the most notable was the issuing of six hand-colored restrike prints by the American Museum of Natural History in conjunction with the London firm, Alecto Historical Editions. Using six of the original copper plates created by W. H. Lizars and Robert Havell during publication of the Double Elephant Folio of The Birds of America, the Museum's goal was not to create identical copies of the original prints, but to create the prints that Audubon wished to create, that is, the prints he would have made if unconstrained by budget, prints of a quality even higher than that of the originals.
Detail from the Alecto restrike of Audubon's
Plate 1 Wild Turkey - Male
One of Audubon's compromises on the quality of the Double Elephant Folio was his decision to print the images in a single color of ink (almost always black) rather than à la poupée (printing with multiple colors of ink). Although prints made à la poupée must be hand-finished with watercolor just as single-color images, the finished prints have a richer and softer look. Unfortunately, the economies of the project required compromise, and Audubon chose the less expensive process of single-color inking.
Color was to remain a thorn in Audubon's side. He complained regularly to Havell about uneven quality and inconsistencies in the coloring of the prints. Although these problems are entirely understandable given the huge scope of the original project (more than 80,000 large folio prints handcolored over the course of twelve years), the small scale and limited timeframe of the restrike project afforded an opportunity for the Museum to pursue Audubon's ideal, rather than to simply imitate his end result. In that respect, the Alecto restrikes can be seen as the culmination of Audubon's original dream, a select group of bird prints of the size and quality that Audubon wished.
Minniesland.com is proud to be able to offer for sale two of these beautiful restrikes. They are from one of only 125 sets printed from the original copper plates in 1985, the back of each print is stamped with a print number and limitation marked in pencil. As part of their agreement with Alecto, the American Museum of Natural History agreed to retire the six copper plates from use for 100 years. Sheet size is 43-1/2 x 29-1/2 inches, with plate sizes measuring approximately 39 x 26 inches. Because of the difficulties involved in photographing large prints, shadow and uneven lighting may affect some photos, but generally all prints are untoned and in very good to excellent condition.
Plate 1 Wild Turkey - Male. Audubon loved this iconic image enough to make it the first plate of the first part of the Double Elephant Folio. Audubon's personal seal showed a simplified version of the turkey with the legend, "America My Country." Originally the work of W. H. Lizars, Robert Havell reworked the copper plate to add aquatint. Audubon was highly critical of the brightly-painted Lizars prints; the Havell colors tend to be more muted in tone. The Alecto colors follow the original painting. $6,500.
Plate 6 Wild Turkey - Female & Young. An ode to motherhood. Guarded by the bulk of their mother, a brood of turkey chicks hunt, preen, and snack their way through the landscape. This plate was originally engraved by W. H. Lizars, then retouched by Robert Havell. The restrike's use of multi-colored ink enhances the impact by making the birds stand out more against the background. An extraordinary work of art. $5,000.
The six plates in this series include the two Wild Turkeys shown here plus an additional four plates shown below. If you are interested in any of the four below, we can probably locate one for you.
PL121 Snowy Owl
PL 201 Canada Goose
PL 221 Mallard
PL281 Great White Heron
New York Botanical Garden
PL 194 Hudson's Bay Titmouse
This print and PL 64 Swamp Sparrow were struck in 1968 by the New York Botanical Gardens. Most of the prints sold were hand-colored, but some uncolored prints (often referred to as "plain") such as this one are in circulation. This print has some light foxing but is otherwise in very good condition. It is printed on Arches watercolor paper. The sheet measures around 30 inches x 22 inches while the plate area is slightly in excess of 19 x 12 inches. SOLD
American Ornithologists' Union
PL 277 Hutchins's Barnacle Goose
This is an uncolored restrike of Havell Plate 277 Hutchins's Barnacle Goose. This beautiful restrike was done with the original Havell plate in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the American Ornithologists' Union. The print is in excellent condition with sheet size 32-1/2 x 26-1/4 inches. Below the plate impression of the Goose is a second plate impression with a single-line statement explaining the origins of the print (see photo below, a composite that recreates the text). This print is rare, especially in such good condition. SOLD