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The Birds of America;

From Original Drawings by John James Audubon... "Greater Flamingo"

Historical Museum of Southern Florida. Miami, Florida.

Research Center. The Historical Museum of Southern Florida includes a Research Center that houses the archives and documentary collections of the Historical Association of South Florida, the Museum's parent organization. The Historical Association was formed in 1940 and incorporated the following year. The Museum was founded in 1963.

The Research Center's collections include the Charlton W. Tebeau Library of Florida History and the Woodrow W. Wilkins Archives of Architectural Records. The Research Center focuses on the history of Florida, particularly from Lake Okeechobee, south as well as areas with ties to South Florida. The collections include original manuscripts, photographs, books, maps, ephemera and other materials.

John James Audubon. John James Audubon was born in Aux Cayes, Saint- Domingue, present day Haiti, in 1785. Raised in France, Audubon traveled to the United States in 1803 and began his masterpiece, The Birds of America, in 1820. He traveled to Europe in 1826 in order to find subscribers and engravers for his ambitious project. For the next twelve years, Audubon divided his time between continents. Upon his return from England in 1831, Audubon undertook his first expedition to the east coast of Florida in order to locate water birds and tropical species. He painted five types of pigeons and doves in Florida, including the ground dove. Financially secure with the success of his monumental project, Audubon, with the assistance of his sons and John Bachman also produced a smaller, expanded edition of Birds. He died in New York, in 1851.

This set contains some of the first plates ever printed. The original subscriber for this set is unknown. The pages were trimmed to 24 7/8 inches by 37 5/8 inches and rebound some time around 1900. Duncan H. Read of Virginia purchased the folio from Walter Roesler at an American Art Association auction. He loaned the folio to the National Audubon Society, which housed the publication at its New York headquarters until the acquisition of its own copy in 1957. Mitchell Wolfson purchased the folio from Duncan Read in 1960. He placed the folio on display in the restored Audubon House in Key West, the following year. On May 27, 1977, the folio was stolen from the Audubon House. One volume was recovered two weeks later in the trunk of a car on the New Jersey Turnpike. The Federal Bureau of Investigation recovered the remaining volumes near Marion, North Carolina soon thereafter. The Historical Museum of Southern Florida acquired the folio in 1981 with the support of a generous donation by Mitchell Wolfson, Jr.

The American Flamingo, or Greater Flamingo, is one of the most widely reproduced images from the folio. Although Audubon saw flamingos while in Florida, he did not draw any on site. "On the 27th of May 1832, while sailing from Indian Key, ... I for the first time saw a flock of flamingos... When I reached Key West, my first inquiries, addressed to Dr. Benjamin Strobel, had reference to the Flamingos, and I felt gratified by learning he had killed a good number of them, and that he would assist us in procuring some." The image of a flamingo is based upon a painting he created in 1838, while in London, from a specimen found in Cuba.

The Birds of America; From Original Drawings by John James Audubon... London: Published by the Author, 1827-1838.

The Birds of America contains 435 prints of 457 species, with one hybrid and five unidentified birds. Prints were issued in sets of five, each set depicting one large, two medium, and two small-sized birds. The publishers issued 87 sets between 1826 and 1838. Fewer than 175 folios of all 435 prints were completed. To date, at least 50 of those complete folios are known to have been dismantled, lost or destroyed. The majority of complete sets were bound in four volumes by Audubon's engraver or the subscribers themselves. The birds are portrayed in life-size images on pages that measure 29 1/2 inches by 39 1/2 inches. This paper size, known as double elephant, is the source of the common name for the first edition of Birds, the Elephant Folio. The plates were published without any text, to avoid the necessity of furnishing copies gratis to the public libraries in England, as required by copyright law. Text to accompany the plates were published in five volumes, Edinburgh, 1831-1839, under the title Ornithological Biography, or, An Account of the Habits of the Birds of the United States of America...

Igor B. Polevitzky Collection. Igor B. Polevitzky, 1912-1978, worked as an architect in the South Florida area from 1934 through the 1960s. During this period, Polevitzky commissioned photographs by a number of leading commercial photographers in the region. Among the important photographers represented in this collection are Samuel H. Gottscho, Rudi Rada and Ernest Graham. Polevitzky compiled an impressive array of stylized black and white photographs for views and residences of Miami, Miami Beach and Havana. Among the 1,233 photographs, the collection includes interior and exterior views of commercial businesses, retail stores, and offices.

Albion Hotel. Day Scene. c 1940. Photograph by Samuel H. Gottscho.

Albion Hotel. Night Scene. c 1940. Photograph by Samuel H. Gottscho.

Two photographs from the collection depict one of the many art deco structures found on Miami Beach. These views of the Albion Hotel, built by Polevitzky in 1939, were taken by Samuel H. Gottscho. One shows a day-time scene on Lincoln Road and the other a dramatic night scene taken from the James Avenue side of the hotel. The Museum received the Polevitzky Collection in 1986, a gift of Laurinda Spear and the architectural firm, Arquitectonica.

Mappe Monde ou Description Du Globe Terrestre & Aquatique Suivant les Dernieres & Meilleures. A Amsterdam: Chés I.B. Elwe, 1792. From: Atlas. Amstelædami, I.B. Elwe [1792].

This Dutch-produced map of the world was once part of an atlas originally published for the French market. The map is a reworking of an earlier unidentified map. Much of the information is dated for its time. California is still shown as an island and Australia is not properly represented. The map, however, is beautifully etched with a decorated cartouche and illustrated with depictions of the four continents. Europe is shown in the upper left corner with the symbols of civilization, the Americas are in the lower left corner represented by an Indian maiden, Africa is in the lower right corner with tropical beasts, and Asia is shown in the upper right corner with spices and treasures. The map is a 1994 gift of Kenneth Sallati.