I dropped the ball on last Friday's Sotheby's sale of the Brooks McCormick Ornithology Collection, which I previewed back in September. Rare Books Review caught it, though, and reports that the total take was just over $2.7 million, well above the high estimate. As expected, the high spot was Mark Catesby's The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, which was sold to an American dealer for $657,000 - setting a record for an 18th-century natural history work at auction.
A first edition of Buffon's Histoire naturelle de oiseaux nearly doubled its estimate, selling for $157,000; John Gould's Birds of Europe fetched $145,000. Five original Audubon Birds sold for more than $50,000 apiece (Whooping Crane, Wood Duck, Virginia Partridge, Wild Turkey (male) and Osprey). The first edition of Darwin's Origin of Species and a copy of John Selby Prideaux's British Ornithology sold for $58,000 each.
The proceeds from the auction will benefit the International Crane Foundation.