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Indiana Historical Society Plans To Auction Audubon’s Work

Brown Titlark

Photo: Specoal Collections Toronto Public Library (Flickr)

Brown Titlark (Anthus Spinoletta) in John James Audubon's "Birds of America."

In April, the Indiana Historical Society plans to auction off two sets of John James Audubon’s work from its current collection. The society purchased Audubon’s “Birds Of America,” in 1933 and his “Viviparous Quadrupeds” in 1951.

Indiana Historical Society President and CEO John Herbst says Audubon’s sets are great works of art but they’re not what people come to the Indiana Historical Society for.

“We help people with their family history work, we help scholars who are writing books, students who are writing term papers, doing research projects,” Herbst says. “Anybody that wants to find something out about Indiana, we have original documents related to our history.”

Herbst says the two collections don’t fit into the historical society’s focus of Indiana history.

“Last year a letter came up from a black civil war soldier. He was fighting for the union, and that would have been something. He was with the black regiment of Indiana. That would have really been terrific for us to have had in the collection but we didn’t have the funds to support acquiring it.”

Audubon’s work is expected to draw high bids at the Sotheby’s auction this spring. Herbst says the “Birds Of America,” will likely bring in at least $3 million dollars.  The historical society plans to also increase storage space for future collections with money from Audubon’s work.

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