Email us now

Book worth millions cut up for decorating project

Created: 16/03/2016

One former owner of Temple Newsam House in Leeds may have used one of the world’s most expensive books in the world to brighten up her interior design.

Curators at the Temple Newsam House believe that Lady Isabella Hertford, who lived in the Jacobean house in the 1820s, used 28 pictures which she had torn out of a first edition of John James Audubon’s famous Birds of America for wallpaper in the drawing room – which is now believed to be one of the most valuable books in the world.

Lady Isabella decided to use the book for inspiration after the Chinese wallpaper that she was given by her lover, King George IV, was too dull to use.

Speaking to, Temple News House’s newly appointed curator Rachel Conroy commented: “It’s an extraordinary room and it’s made all the more special because it’s largely been decorated by a former resident of the house and most of the furniture which is still on display was chosen by Lady Hertford herself.”

Birds of America contains 435 hand-coloured life-size illustrations of birds, six of which are now extinct, and there are believed to be 119 other copies of the book in the world, one of which was auctioned off at a mere £7 million three years ago.

Birds of America was seen as a hugely pioneering publication when it was released in the 1830s. The book, which took author John James Audobon more than a decade to complete, was printed on what was known as double elephant folio – a huge 39.5 by 26.5 inches – to allow for hand-painted, life-sized illustrations of hundreds of varieties of wild birds.

For those looking to decorate their walls with a little less expensive wallpaper, handyman services in London are able to give you a helping hand for a perfect finish.

Image Credit: David Pacey (

Back to News