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Peterson Field Guide photos coming to NYC auction

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NEW YORK (AP) - Artist and naturalist Roger Tory Peterson's illustrated Field Guide series helped popularize bird watching the world over and set the standard for the modern nature guide. Next month, bird lovers will have the chance to buy the original paintings, drawings and photographs that were used to illustrate his system of bird identification.

Peterson's estate is offering hundreds of items on Sept. 8 through Guernsey's Auctioneers. The sale will also include Peterson's preliminary studies including a section on Penguins, a family of birds he especially loved.

Peterson, who died in 1996 at the age of 87, spent a lifetime watching, painting and photographing birds in the wild, drawing comparisons to the 19th century ornithologist John James Audubon.

An accomplished painter and photographer who attended the Art Students League in New York, Peterson's first book, "A Field Guide to the Birds," was published in 1934 and has never been out of print. Fifty-two other volumes followed.

"Without the foundation Peterson laid, we would not have the countless number of birding associations, the tremendous number of wildlife refuges, and maybe, not even the Endangered Species Act," the Roger Peterson Institute of Natural History in Jamestown, N.Y., says on its web site.

Its education director, Mark Baldwin, said the small non-profit would love to own some of the "really, really fine pieces" coming up at the auction but that it didn't have the resources. He said he hoped a potential buyer might donate some items to the institute, which was created in 1986 to house Peterson's body of work.

The institute, which is located in the town where Peterson was born and raised, contains other original works from his estate.

Peterson was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award granted to a civilian, in 1980.

Guernsey's said because of the comparison between Peterson and Audubon, it will also offer a collection of more than 30 Audubon prints.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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