AS AUDUBON PUBLISHES HIS ROYAL OCTAVO EDITION OF
‘THE BIRDS OF AMERICA’
WITH ITS 65 ADDITIONAL PLATES, HE ANNOUNCES TO HARRIS: “I HAVE MADE A GOOD NUMBER OF DRAWINGS THAT YOU HAVE NOT SEEN AND THAT I LONG TO SHOW YOU.”
AUDUBON, JOHN. (1785-1851). Ornithologist, naturalist, and artist. Scarce Autograph Letter Signed, “John J. Audubon.” Very full page, quarto. February 4, 1842, To Edward Harris [(1799–1863) farmer, horse breeder, philanthropist, naturalist, and ornithologist who accompanied Audubon on two of his expeditions to observe the birds and mammals of North America]. Audubon writes:
“My dear Friend, You have not made your appearance in this glorious city, as we all justly anticipated about two weeks ago. However you have not come, and therefore I take the liberty to address you again to ask of you what I am to do with the skins sent for you by young Hoppenthall[?], and that are still unopened – and more I wish you to be so good to let me know what the price of under-drawing-tiles is at Philadelphia and where they can be procured etc and what manner it is best for us to have these laid drawing…Jobrey[?] who had the management of our Country Seat affairs, says that they can be made here at the “Salamander” works! But are little to know the value of these tiles so that we may not pay more than they may be actually worth.
Since my last to you I have been both sick and again very busy. – I have made a good number of drawings that you have not seen and that I have to show to you. When will you be here?
In this Bank-braking time, I have alas no good news to transmit to you, but should like very much to see you and have a good long talk with you. We are all pretty well, and our House in the Country (as we call it) will be finished by the middle of April when we get ready to begin to remove our effects from 86 White Street. I long to show you this Hobby of ours! With kind regards to Doc Spencer and young Wilkes from all here to you, believe me always. Your sincere friend, John J. Audubon”.
Just a superb letter, at the height of Audubon’s creative period, written to a personage of some importance in the achievement of that notoriety. Combine this with the reference of receiving ‘skins’ [specimens] along with good insight to the plate production [as the ‘tiles’ reference is a method of printing on multiple pages to make one large image, via cut and paste], and it would be very hard to find a better Audubon letter.
Edward Harris (1799–1863) was a farmer, horse breeder, philanthropist, naturalist, and ornithologist who accompanied John James Audubon on two of his expeditions to observe the birds and mammals of America; Harris was commemorated by Audubon in the common names of the Harris’s hawk, the Harris’s sparrow, and the Harris’s antelope squirrel.