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Video: Rare book expected to fetch millions

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    >> to be the most expensive book in the world will soon go to the highest bidder. it's a rare copy of john james audubon 's birds of america . and as we report, it could fetch millions.

    >> reporter: not the book you leave on the coffee table. the pages in this book are enormous. two feet by three feet. full of birds in water color , painted by the wildlife artist john james audubon 180 years ago. and now this rare book , a four volume set , " birds of america " goes on sale as the world's most expensive books, worth at least $6 million.

    >> it's a kind of statement of americana. it's one of the most important things in that field.

    >> reporter: audubon was a true pioneer in what was then the new world. there were only 26 states then. texas was still part of mexico. audubon would travel for years by horseback and riverboat pursuing his passion for finding and drawing the birds of america .

    >> what was unusual was the ambition of the project. to illustrate every known species of american bird. and by and large, he achieved that.

    >> reporter: without photography back then, a good wildlife artist was also a good hunter.

    >> he actually shot and then drew bar one every single bird in the book.

    >> reporter: sometimes he had specimens sent to him, but caught in the wild.

    >> yes.

    >> reporter: how many illustrations are there?

    >> 435.

    >> reporter: that's a lot of birds to shoot. audubon traveled to britain and was treated like a rock star .

    >> he played up on that. he was an american woodsman. he had language hair. he dressed in buckskin. he was a great hit as soon as he came to britain because he represented the pioneering spirit of america .

    >> reporter: and he showed them a world they didn't know existed. he used copperplates to engrave each of the birds for the book. it took 12 years.

    >> imagine somebody opening this up and they'd never seen a pelican before and they have it in large size in full, glorious color. must be inyesterday ill. it's still incredible now.

    >> reporter: only the very wealthy could afford them. his clients included the king and queen of england. 119 of these books exist. most are in libraries. only 11 in private hands.

    >> for the price you have to pay for this book.

    >> reporter: at the time sh

    >> at the time, and today, as well.

    >> reporter: all eyes will be on the sotheby's auction room on tuesday to see who will pay the price of a mansion for a book. for

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Photos: Duchess of Windsor's dazzling jewels sold at auction

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  1. Duchess of Windsor's jewels sold at auction

    Jewelry formerly owned by Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor -- the American socialite whom Edward VIII famously gave up the throne of England to marry in 1937 -- was auctioned by Sotheby's in London on Nov. 30. The collection sold for nearly $12.5 million.

    In this portrait by Cecil Beaton, Wallis wears on her left arm one of the pieces that will go on the block, a cross bracelet by Cartier. (Courtesy of Sotheby's) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Cross bracelet

    This Cartier chain bracelet set with diamonds links nine Latin crosses set with saphhires, emeralds, rubies and diamonds. Each of the crosses is inscribed and dated to mark a different occasion or sentiment, including Wallis' marriage to Edward. (Jasper "Yogi" Gough) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Gold and diamond necessaire du soir

    This evening case may have been a 10th wedding anniversary gift from the Duke of Windsor to his Duchess, given the dated inscription. There are photographs of the Duchess holding this evening bag at a reception she and the Duke attended at the White House at the invitation of President Nixon in April 1970. (Jasper "Yogi" Gough) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Flamingo clip

    Mounted by Cartier in Paris in 1940, this clip was designed as a flamingo posed on one leg. Its plumage is set with emeralds, rubies and sapphires; the beak and eye contain more sapphires, and the head, neck and body are pave-set with diamonds. (Jasper "Yogi" Gough) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. 20th anniversary brooch

    This brooch was created in May 1957 by Cartier to commemorate the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's 20th wedding anniversary. The initials W and E (for Wallis and Edward) are set with emeralds above the Roman numeral XX in the center of a heart-shaped field of diamonds. (Jasper "Yogi" Gough) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Watch, compass and sundial

    Inscribed beneath the dial of this gold watch with built-in compass and sundial is the message: "No excuse for going in the wrong direction Easter 1939." That was the year that the Duke and Duchess settled in a house in Paris. (Jasper "Yogi" Gough) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Panther bracelet

    This onyx and diamond bracelet in the form of a panther is articulated so that it will encircle the wrist and assume a stalking pose. The eyes are emeralds. Designed by Cartier in 1952, the dramatic bracelet was the star of the sale, despite a few missing stones. Sotheby's said it sold for $7 million, the highest price it had ever received for a bracelet at auction. (Bogey) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Gold cigarette case

    This rectangular case is decorated with a map of Europe, inscribed with the names of various locations, each represented by a gem. The enameled routes refer to holiday trips enjoyed by Edward and his guests, including Wallis, during 1934,1935 and 1936. (Jasper "Yogi" Gough) Back to slideshow navigation
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