Monday, January 16, 2012

Mapping Audubon's Subscribers

Since I enjoyed my first foray into mapping subscriber lists, I decided I'd have another go ... and since a copy of Audubon's Birds of America is coming up for sale later this week, that was a natural choice.

Check out the map here.

I opted to use the "final list of subscribers" - that is, the list Audubon included in the last volume of his Ornithological Biography (Edinburgh, 1839). Some others had subscribed for earlier parts of the work and are not included here; nor are those subscribers who purchased full sets following publication. The final list is separated by American subscribers (82) and European subscribers (78, since one is listed twice), for a total of 160.

For my previous map, I used different color pins to indicate the number of copies subscribed for; that wouldn't have worked in this case since most subscribers took only a single copy*, so I used the pin-colors instead to indicate the subscriber category: government body, college or university, library, learned society or museum, individual, or a royal family.

Using Waldemar Fries' The Double Elephant Folio (originally published in 1973, and reissued by Zenaida Publishing in 2006 with updates by Susanne M. Low), I was also able to track the current whereabouts of the copies where that information is known.

Notably, just twelve copies of the Birds of America appear to remain with their original owner-subscribers (others, as I mentioned above, remain with their original purchasers who were not subscribers). They are:

- Library of Congress
- State Library of Massachusetts (2010 article)
- Boston Athenaeum
- Harvard University
- American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia
- Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia
- Columbia University
- Cambridge University Library
- Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
- Christ Church Library, Oxford
- Radcliffe Science Library, Oxford
- Institute de France, Paris

As with the previous map, in many cases I didn't have precise addresses for the subscribers, so the pin-locations are approximate. If anyone has more specific information on the addresses, or other corrections, &c., I'll be more than happy to update the map. [Update: using digitized city directories, I have found reasonably good address information for most of the subscribers now] And for the full stories of these subscribers and the copies' journeys over time, do consult Fries' wonderful book.



* The French Interior Ministry did request six copies, but they only appear to have received six copies of the first volume.

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