Description

    A[lfred] E. Mathews. Pencil Sketches of Colorado, Its Cities, Principal Towns and Mountain Scenery. [New York: A. E. Mathews], 1866. First edition Mathews's first view book, with magnificent and incredibly accurate views of Colorado.

    Oblong folio (13 x 18.5 inches; 328 x 470 mm.). [2, title (copyright notice on verso)], [2, preface (verso blank)], [8] pages of descriptive text. Complete with thirty-six views on twenty-three hand-finished, tinted lithographed plates (using multiple tint stones on each plate) printed by Julius Bien (who produced the second folio edition of Audubon's Birds of America), depicting the principal towns, settlements and scenes of Colorado, and the mining processes used in the early days (sixteen plates are full-page, four plates have two views each, and three plates have four views each). Modern quarter maroon morocco over modern maroon cloth boards. With the gilt title stamp cut from the original binding and laid down on the front cover. Smooth spine ruled, lettered, and dated in gilt. New endpapers and flyleaves. Small scuff mark on spine affecting gilt rules at foot; original gilt title vignette on front cover a little scuffed and with a small dark stain or hole. Lower corner darkened throughout; lower corner of title and the two following leaves strengthened on the verso; most leaves with some edge browning. Evidence of dampstaining apparently having been washed in the lower margin, with some abraded areas; additional dampstaining in the lower gutter of several plates. Frontispiece trimmed (to 10.375 x 16.625 inches; 264 x 421 mm.) and mounted on modern stock, with triangular paper repair (measuring approximately .375 x 2.125 inches) at lower left corner, two vertical creases from the top edge, and foxing, mostly in the lower right corner; with modern hand-coloring and heightening with gum arabic. "Garden of the Gods" ([plate 19]) with two-inch diagonal tear into the image from the gutter; "Monuments, Near Monument Creek" ([plate 20]) with two-and-one-half-inch tear into the image from the outer edge; and "Gulch Mining.-Colorado Gulch," "Spanish Arastra-On Clear Creek," "The Stamp Process.-Mr. Sensenderfer's Mill," and "Shaft or Lode Mining" ([plate 21]) with two-inch tear into the image from the top edge; several additional plates with short marginal tears; all tears repaired on the verso. In general, the lithographs are generally clean and free from the problems seen in the margins; only very occasionally does foxing or small areas of discoloration appear in the images.

    Mathews writes in his Preface: "The author herewith offers to the public a collection of lithographed sketches of Colorado, embracing its Cities, and most of its Principal Towns, together with some of the beautiful Mountain Scenery which abounds in this incomparable territory...[My aim is] to represent that portion of the country to which interest is attached on account of the rich gold and silver mines; and, if possible, to give non-residents an idea of the beauty and grandeur of the natural scenery in the mountains, which will compare favorably, in this respect, with any in the world. This work is not intended to contain a history of the country, but only a short description to accompany the illustrations, it is mere a collection of lithographed sketches bound together for convenience, and being in book form it is necessary that some description of the country and localities represented should be given."

    References: Bennett, page 72; Graff 2709; Howes M-413 ("c"); Reps, Views and Viewmakers, pp. 263-267; Streeter 2171 ("These views are celebrated for their documentary accuracy-apparently contemporary viewers could identify in the street views the rigs of various townspeople").


    More Information:

    "Late in 1865, Mathews arrived in Denver, Colorado, and almost immediately embarked on an ambitious project to produce a uniform series of views of Denver and the major mining communities in the Colorado Rockies. In March 1866, he distributed the first four prints: a general view of Denver and three street scenes of the city. Four others arrived several weeks later from his New York City printer, Julius Bien. All of these must have been sold as separate prints, but in October they and others became available in bound form with twelve pages of text describing the thirty-six lithographs...Mathews drew with almost mechanical regularity, and in examining his work one is always aware of looking at lines on paper rather than at the scene itself...Nevertheless, although far from great as art, the views provide valuable documentation of the appearance of Colorado communities less than a decade after they sprang into existence following the first gold discoveries in 1859" (Reps, Views and Viewmakers of Urban America  (1985), pages 190-191).

    "The most important, from a pictorial standpoint, of the artists who made the Western journey after the close of the Civil War was Alfred E. Mathews...This pictorial record of Colorado is an important historical document...[The] wealth of detail in his city and street views is invaluable to the social historian. Dress, transportation (in one of the lithographs, there can be counted seven or eight types of wheeled vehicles), the miscellany of everyday street life, and the methods, equipment and detail of Colorado mining, are all faithfully recorded, or as faithfully as Mathews could for he made a fetish of validity in his pictures...Eight of the lithographs were printed two on a page and twelve of them four to a page. The lithographs are followed by twelve pages of text, which describe briefly the subject of each of the thirty-six lithographs with some additional background material...Pencil Sketches of Colorado sold originally for $30 a copy, but it has become one of the scarcest items of Western Americana" (Taft, Artists and Illustrators of the Old West, 1850-1900, pages 72-78).

    "This marvelous series is of the highest historical importance, delineating accurately, as it does, the pioneer life, conditions and scenes of a vast and then unsettled region. The pictorial record includes in its graphic presentation excellent views of Denver, Golden City, Black Hawk, Central City, Nevada, Russell Gulch, Idaho, Fall River, Profile Rock, Empire City, Elizabethtown, South Park, Mount Lincoln, Pike's Peak, Colorado City, California Gulch, etc." (Eberstadt 106:208).

    The plates are as follows:

    1) "Snowy Range of the Rocky Mountains; From Bald Mountain, Near Nevada" (frontispiece, full-page);
    2) "Denver, City of the Plains" (full-page, Reps 482);
    3) "F Street, Denver" (full-page, Reps 483);
    4) "Blake Street, Denver, Colorado" (Reps 481);
    5) "Laramie Street, Denver" (full-page, Reps 484);
    6) "Golden City" (full-page, Reps 500);
    7) "Black Hawk, Looking Up Gregory and Chase's Gulches" (full-page, Reps 459);
    8) "Central City; From the Side of Mammoth Hill Looking Up Gregory and Eureka Gulches" (full-page, Reps 465);
    9) "Central City; Looking Up Spring Gulch" (full-page, Reps 464);
    10) "Nevada, Colorado" (full-page, Reps 514);
    11) "Russell Gulch, Gilpin County" (half-page, Reps 518); and "The Chief, Squaw and Papoose, as Seen From Idaho" (half-page);
    12) "Idaho, Clear Creek County" (half-page, Reps 506); and "Fall River, Clear Creek County" (half-page, Reps 496);
    13) "The Old Mountaineer, Fall River " (half-page); and "Profile Rock, Fall River" (half-page);
    14) "Empire City, Clear Creek County from near the foot of Silver Mountain, looking towards Elizabethtown" (half-page, Reps 495); and "Elizabethtown, Clear Creek County. From the Griffith Tunnel" (half-page, Reps 494);
    15) "South Park" (full-page);
    16) "Mount Lincoln. The town of Montgomery is seen at its base" (full-page, Reps 513);
    17) "Twin Lakes" (full-page);
    18) "Pike's Peak and Colorado City" (full-page, Reps 470);
    19) "Garden of the Gods" (full-page);
    20) "Monuments, Near Monument Creek" (full-page);
    21) [Mining and Stamp Process:] "Gulch Mining.-Colorado Gulch" (quarter-page); "Spanish Arastra-On Clear Creek" (quarter-page); "The Stamp Process.-Mr. Sensenderfer's Mill" (quarter-page); and "Shaft or Lode Mining.-Interior of No. 1, on the Gregory, the Black Hawk Co.'s Mine" (quarter-page);
    22) [The Keith Process. Hope Gold Company's Works:] "The Ore Breaking Room.-Blake's Ore Breaker" (quarter-page); "The Furnace" (quarter-page); "The Ore Pit, or Drying Room," (quarter-page); and "Amalgamating Room" (quarter-page);
    23) [The Smelting Process. James E. Lyon & Co.'s Smelting Works:] "Ore Dressing Room-The Buddle and Jiggs" (quarter-page); "Reverberatory Furnace" (quarter-page); "Cupel Furnace" (quarter-page); and "Scotch Hearths" (quarter-page).



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