—Yushodo Deluxe Facsimile Edition —
Double-Elephant Folio (1,000 mm x 680 mm)
435 plates, Full-Color
Limited to 100 sets only
October, 2014 on sale all over the world
4 volume complete set
Half leather bound
Bind on demand
4 volume complete set
Wooden box covered with vinyl cloth
Set on demand
|Publisher:||Yushodo Co., Ltd.|
|Photographing, Artwork Creation and Printing:||Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd.|
|Paper Supply:||Takeo Co., Ltd.|
|Binding:||Ooiri Co., Ltd.|
The Birds of America is a 435-page collection of illustrations of North American birds. Created by artist and natural historian John James Audubon (1785–1851), the completion of the collection took over 10 years. In 1854, under the command of Matthew Perry, the US Navy’s East India Squadron arrived on the Japanese shores of Uraga, where this book was offered to the shogun as a gift. Even now, it is a celebrated international masterpiece and an American treasure.
To reproduce this masterpiece for the current era, we photographed the original possessed by Meisei University using an 80-megapixel camera, and processed the images digitally and printed them on specially made paper. Craftsmen bound each book by hand with care and completed the four volume set filled with an elegance rivaling the original.
There have been some full-sized reproductions in the past, such as the Netherlands’ Johnson Reprint Corporation (1972) and the US’ Abbeville Press (1985) editions. The difference between these and the Yushodo edition is our utilization of the most sophisticated modern technology—for example, digital image processing has been used for the first time. While reproducing the magnificence of the original, we have also created something completely new, a never-before-seen version of The Birds of America. This has drawn high expectations from all corners of the globe.
In the rapidly digitizing world of publishing, we at Yushodo approached this project fully aware of the importance of producing a high quality book that will remain intact for future generations. We hope that everyone will share our view on this project as worthy of international commemoration.
October 2014 ,.Yushodo Co., Ltd.
John James Audubon was born in 1785 in the French island colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) to a French woman working as a maid. Soon after he was born, his mother passed away, and he was adopted by a French ship captain named Audubon. At the age of four, he moved to France with his father, and at age seven, he began to draw pictures. Later, following his father’s orders, he fled to America to avoid conscription into Napoleon’s army. In America, he continued his study on birds, became a businessman, and married his wife Lucy. In 1812 (at the age of 27), he obtained American citizenship. Going along with the speculation popular at the time, he successively invested in land, lumber, mills, and steamships, but an economic downturn plummeted him into bankruptcy. Despite losing everything, he continued to believe in his artistic abilities and produced drawings of his favorite birds, hoping to have his work published in a book. During this period, his wife Lucy supported the household working as a teacher.
However, he could not secure a publisher for his art book in America; hence, in 1826, Audubon headed to England. In 1827 he found an English publisher, and sales began to advance. His legendary illustrated guide to nature, The Birds of America, was completed in 1838, earning him fame throughout the west. He became a celebrity upon returning to his country, even receiving an invitation from then President Andrew Jackson. An artist, scientist, and nature lover, in his later years Audubon lamented environmental destruction and hunting after seeing the deforestation and rampant slaughter taking place around the country. He urged natural preservation. His apprentice Grinnell realized this wish by establishing the Audubon Society 30 years after his death. The world leading Nature Conservation Agency, “The National Audubon Society,” was launched 20 years later. Thus, Audubon’s wish to preserve nature is presently still fulfilled.
Dreaming of having his work published in a book, Audubon traveled to England in 1826. Consequently, in 1827, W. H. Lizars and R. Havell began printing his drawings. Audubon periodically published them in sets of five plates by subscription. This continued for 10 years until 1838, the number of illustrated prints totaled 435.
The illustrations were created by making etchings of the outlines of his drawings and then applying aquatint for coloring. They were printed on large papers called “double elephant folio,” which went beyond normal expectations for a book. Previous natural illustrations had often been based on specimens, but Audubon’s The Birds of America illustrated vividly active, life size birds in their natural habitat, which became the news and stimulated considerable discussion at the time.
Today, a few more than 120 sets are extant, and the book is known in publishing history as one of the most highly valued in the world.
The State Library of Victoria in Australia and Meisei University in Japan are the only two institutions in Asia that possess the original The Birds of America. Yushodo’s facsimile edition of The Birds of America was produced in collaboration with Meisei University.
We took photos of the original with an 80-megapixel camera in the rare book room of Meisei University Library. In the meantime, we continued image retouch and color proofing digitally on the spot by comparing with the original plates carefully and repeatedly until satisfied. With more than 20 of the staff involved in this process for nearly 6 month period, we accomplished the artwork digital data for the Yushodo deluxe facsimile edition ofThe Birds of America.
Since we wanted to achieve a texture similar to the one used for the original, we created special paper only for this project.
This special paper is acid-free and deteriorates slowly; however, it also contains more air than normal paper and is thus a low density, low weight, supple, and open-well. We made it suitable for printing by maintaining a smooth surface without applying any coating. We ensured the luster of the printing surface and succeeded in giving it a similar feel to that of the original.
Even though we only used standard four-color offset printing without adding any other spot colors, we have achieved the fulfillment of rich color printing representation. This is because of digital data creation for the artwork that was carefully and repeatedly done, and also because of the perfect craftsmanship of color regulation in the final stage at the printing site.
The Birds of America, its size surpassing the imagination, was manufactured from start to finish through the handiwork of the craftsmen. We adopted an on-demand binding system and offer 2 different editions, bound and unsewn editions, so that we can respond to individual customer needs. We used a solid wooden book cover for the bound edition to keep the paper balanced with the book, and wooden box covered in plastic cloth for the unsewn edition. We tried making the book design as simple as possible so that we can express the true dignity of each illustration and the overall majesty of the four volume set.
Roger and Virginia Peterson
Audubon's Birds of America: The Audubon Society Baby Elephant Folio (Abbeville Press, 2013)
Roberta Olson and The New-York Historical Society
Audubon's Aviary: The Original Watercolors for The Birds of America (Skira Rizzoli, 2012)
John James Audubon
Writings and Drawings (Library of America, 1999)
Holly Hatchner, Annette Blaugrund and Theodore E. Stebbins (ed.)
The Watercolors for the Birds of America (Villard, 1993)