First Octavo edition. No. 1 - 5. ii,  - 104. The set was issued in 100 parts. The lists of subscribers are printed on the inside of each wrapper.
New York: J. J. Audbon, 86 White Street. Philadelphia: J. B. Chevalier, 72 Dock Street, 1839. llustrated with 24 full page lithographs, with tissue guards. Printed and coloured by J. T. Bowen. There are five plates in each part, except part 3: plate 11, 10 [sic], 14, and 15.
Royal octavo (27 x 16.7 cms), original blue wrappers decoratively stamped and lettered in black. In custom blue cloth four way folding box, inside full blue morocco clam shell box decorated and lettered in gilt (new). Wrappers on part 3 detached (but present), tissue guards lacking for plate 5, part 1; some rubbing and browning of some edges of wrappers. Interiors with slight browning and brown spots, most plates very slightly affected.
Audubon wanted his work to be more popular and thus embarked on his octavo edition of his great work first published by subsciption in the Folio sets which at the time cost a staggering $1,000 each, just in production costs.
From the Introduction:
"Having been frequently asked for several years past .. to present to them and to the public a work .. of such dimensions and at such a price, as would enable every student or lover of nature to place it in his library .. I have undertaken the task with .. in their present miniature form, .. J. J. Audubon. New York, Nov. 1839."
Of the five Octavo editions, only the first one was produced under Audubon's personal supervision since he died in 1851. Audubon's fame was firmly established by the lavish double-elephant folio edition of The Birds of America produced between 1827-1838. For that work, Audubon had felt that there was no American printer capable of taking such a demanding project and so traveled to London to employ some of that country's finest craftsmen, William Home Lizars and Robert Havell. For the octavo edition, however, Audubon returned to the United States and employed the Philadelphia firm of J.T. Bowen to produce a more commercially viable edition of the work under the close supervision of his sons. The subscription price for the work was $100, making it an expensive work aimed at the country's wealthy, although its potential to reach a greater public far surpassed that of the double-elephant folio edition. The market success was immense, launching Audubon into financial security and firmly establishing his wide-ranging appeal as the greatest ornithological artist of his (or perhaps any) time. To the original plate count included in the double-elephant folio edition, the octavo edition adds 65 new images for a total of 500 plates, making it ""the most extensive color plate book produced in America up to that time"" (Reese). The plates were reduced by camera lucida and lithographed, with some of the backgrounds entirely changed or greatly modified. The original compositions are altered so that only one species is depicted per plate. The text itself is a revision of the Ornithological Biography, rearranged according to Audubon's ""A Synopsis of the Birds of North America"" . [Herrick 4. Sabin 2364].