Audubon Print Authentication

Identifying Marks from Audubon Prints

© March 2005 by Terrance M. Wright - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


This brief article provides visual references for identifying marks to be found on original and limited edition Audubon facsimile prints. These are (mostly) actual photographs from representative images. Some of the editions do not contain marks for ready identification, for example the Ariel/Leipzig edition prints appear to bear no text, seal, or watermark which identifies them uniquely (one relies on knowing what the collotype process looks like under magnification.). The Bien edition bears no watermarks but does carry an attribution to Julius Bien, the engraver. As it is rather obvious, it is not presented here.

Havell Edition

The original Havell prints were made on paper from the Whatman mills and bear some version of the papermaker's watermark. Two examples are shown below. The most common watermarks appear to be 'J WHATMAN' with or without a date following and 'J WHATMAN/ TURKEY MILL', with or without a following date . Other version s are known: 'TURKEY MILLS/ J WHATMAN' with & without dates and 'TURKEY MILLS/ DATE/ J WHATMAN'. The J. WHATMAN watermarks came from the Balston Mill and J WHATMAN/ TURKEY MILL from the Hollingsworth Mill, in England.

Audubon Print - Havell Watermark

Figure 1. One of the common Whatman watermarks with mill name and date.

Audubon Print - Havell Watermark

Figure 2. Another of the common Whatman marks, from the Balston Mill.


Amsterdam Edition

Watermarks located adjacent to each other and repeating along unbound (deckled) edge.

Audubon Print - Amsterdam Watermark

Figure 3. Papermaker G. Schut & Zonen's watermark. Publisher Johnson Reprint Corporation monogram. The coloration in these two figures is caused by the backlighting and does not reflect the true appearance of the Amsterdam paper.

Audubon Print - Amsterdam Watermark

Figure 4. 'Audubon' Watermark next to monogram for co-publisher Theatrum Orbis Terrarum.

Abbeville Edition

Watermarks from the Abbeville edition paper. These marks are adjacent to each other and repeat along the long edge of the sheet. The coloration in these pictures is created by the backlighting and does not reflect the true color of the Abbeville paper.

Audubon Print - Abbeville Watermark

Figure 5. Bird figure and Abbeville Press watermarks.

Audubon Print - Abbeville Watermark

Figure 6. National Audubon Society Watermark.


Princeton Edition

The Princeton Edition bears no watermarks but an embossed seal reading "Princeton Audubon Limited, Limited Edition, Princeton N.J., 1500". The Turkey Cock & White Pelican were limited to 500 prints, so I imagine the '1500' reads '500' on those prints.

Audubon Print - Princeton Seal

Figure 7. Embossed seal from Princeton Limited-Edition Audubon prints, usually lower right margin.

Audubon Print - Princeton edition number

Figure 8. Hand-printed edition number below Audubon attribution.


M. Bernard Loates

Loates produced images in multiple editions, namely Introductory Edition, Tribute I, Tribute II, and a later 'After Tribute' Edition. Introductory Edition, Tribute I and Tribute II were produced on Loates Stallion Vellum watermarked paper (see figures 11a & 11b.)

The Loates 1999 edition paper does not bear a watermark but has several raised seals ('chop marks').

Audubon Print - Loates marks

Figure 9. Tryon Mint, JJA, and Loates marks, lower left corner. Hand-printed edition number. this version of chop marks
is present on the Introductory Edition as well as the 'After Tribute' images.


rint - Loates marks

Figure 10. M. B. Loates signature with raised bird insignia in lower right corner. '©1987 M. Bernard Loates' printed copyright notice in right margin



Figure 11a & 11b. M. Bernard Loates Stallion Vellum Watermarks from Tribute I and Tribute II Editions.


Figure 12. Chop Marks from Tribute I and Tribute II Editions.


Figure 13. Alternate insignia and signature from Tribute I image "Ruby-throated Hummingbird"


Leipzig Edition/Ariel Press

Loose Leipzig Edition prints are somewhat tricky to verify to the amateur since they bear no reliable marks, such as watermarks, embossed ceals or even signature with which to identify them. There are several clues, however, to Leipzigs.
General characteristics include heavy unwatermarked DEF-sized paper with no other marginalia than the original Havel prints. These prints were made using an older collotype technique which produces good results, but is no longer in common usage. Collotype characteristics include the absence of any matrix of dots as in offset printing. Rather a 'fuzzy' appearance to printed regions is observed. The characteristic collotype confrimation is the best way to positively identify a Leipzig print.

Second, Leipzig prints were often bound with a long spring clip which would leave a deep indentation along one side of the print. Leipzig prints were not 'stitched' togeth as in other DEF editions, such as Amsterdams.


Figure 14. Magnified view of a Leipzig print showing collotype characteristics (lack of dot matrix).


Next, check the Leipzig Plate index on this website. If the print in question is not listed, it's NOT a Leipzig.

And, Leipzig prints do not bear any markings for Ariel Press which later made numerous prints on similar paper.

All told, confriming a Leipzig is more a case of ruling out other editions than positively identifying the print as a Leipzig.


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