World’s most expensive book sells for $11.7m at Sotheby’s

London dealer Michael Tollemache, whose winning bid came in more than £1.3m above the £6m estimate, described the work as “priceless”.

The four-volume work, from the private collection of Frederick, 2nd Lord Hesketh, comprises 435 hand-coloured etched plates with line-engraving and aquatint.

The engravings were created by Robert Havell and Son, of London, and WH Lizars, of Edinburgh, from the original life-size watercolours by John James Audubon.

All prints were reproduced in double-elephant folio, which represents a sheet size of around 972mm x 654mm, from the copper plate etchings and then hand-coloured.

The Birds of America took Audubon 12 years to complete. His technique involved shooting the birds before mounting them with wire in order to pose them for his sketches.

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