Audubon's 'The Birds of America' to be sold in NYC

By ULA ILNYTZKY | January 4, 2012 | 11:15 AM EST

NEW YORK (AP) — A rare first edition set of John James Audubon's sumptuously illustrated "The Birds of America" will be sold at auction in New York.

Christie's said Wednesday the four-volume set has a pre-sale estimate of $7 million to $10 million. The auction is Jan. 20.

The set contains more than 400 hand-colored plates of all the North American species known to Audubon in the early 19th century. It is considered a masterpiece of ornithology art.

The volumes stand 3½ feet high because Audubon wanted to depict the birds in their actual size and habitat.

It will be on view at Christie's Rockefeller Center galleries Jan. 14-19.

The books will be sold together with a complete first edition set of Audubon's 5-volume "Ornithological Biography" in matching red Morocco leather.