The Birds of America series, by painter and naturalist John James Audubon (born 1785), was first published as a series in sections between 1827 and 1838. In total the series contained 435 life-sized watercolors of North America birds, all reproduced from hand-engraved plates. At the age of 35, Audubon declared his intention to paint every bird in North America.
This mug features Audubon's Great Cinereous Owl Plate, which was accompanied by the following opening text in Birds of America:
"This fine Owl, which is the largest of the North American species, is nowhere common with us, although it ranges from the north-eastern coast of the United States to the sources of the Columbia river. It has been procured near Eastport in Maine, and at Marblehead in Massachusetts, where one of them was taken alive, perched on a wood pile, early in the morning, in February, 1831. I went to Salem for the purpose of seeing it, but it had died, and I could not trace its remains. The gentleman, Mr. Ives, in whose keeping it had been for several months, fed it on fish and small birds, of which it was very fond. Besides shewing me various marks of attention, he gave me a drawing of it made by his wife, which is still in my possession. It uttered at times a tremulous cry not unlike that of the Little Screech Owl, Strix Asio, and shewed a great antipathy to cats and dogs. In the winter of 1832, I saw one of these Owls flying over the harbour of Boston, Massachusetts, amid several Gulls, all of which continued teasing it until it disappeared. I have seen specimens procured on the Rocky Mountains by Mr. Townsend, and several brought to London by the medical officer who accompanied Captain Back in his late Arctic journey. Among the individuals which I have examined I have found considerable differences as to size and markings, which may be attributed to age and sex. My drawing was token from a remarkably fine specimen in the collection of the Zoological Society of London."
The vibrant design is permanently applied to the mug and will not fade over time, even with frequent use.
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