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    "The Most Colorful Portraits of Indians Ever Executed" - Howes

    Thomas L McKenney. and James Hall. History of the Indian Tribes of North America, with Biographical Sketches and Anecdotes of the Principal Chiefs Embellished with One Hundred and Twenty Portraits from the Indian Gallery in the Department of War, at Washington. Philadelphia: Edward C. Biddle (first volume) and Daniel Rice & James G. Clark (second and third volumes), 1837-1838-1844. First edition, first issue of vols. II and III, second issue of vol. I. Three large folio volumes; 19.5 x 14.25 inches. [ii], [vi], 204; [iv], 237, [1, blank]; [iv], 196, [2, The Genuineness of the Portrait of Pocahontas] pages. Complete with 120 hand-colored lithographic plates after Charles Bird King, James Otto Lewis, P. Rhindesbacher and R.M. Sully, drawn on stone by A. Newsam, A.H., R.T., H.D. and others, printed and colored by Lehman & Duval, or J.T. Bowen, vol. III with one page of two lithographic maps and one table, 17 pages of lithographic facsimile signatures of the original subscribers. Of great interest is that this copy has the following unusual characteristics: in volume I, it has both the first and second printing of the "War Dance ... Explanation of the Plate", pages [iii]-iv and [3]-4 (this is rare because the first state was found to be erroneous, and so was re-written with binding instructions to discard the first state in favor of the corrected later printings, so most copies have the later states); volume II has both the first and second state title-pages, and the "War Dance" plate is here instead of volume I. Bound in early twentieth-century half brown morocco over textured paper boards, spines ruled and lettered in gilt in compartments, five raised bands. Bindings generally worn, with tender (or cracking) hinges and joints, spines chipped (volume I spine is missing the lowest panel). Text is foxed, plates are foxed or offset to varying degrees, some text pages and plates browned, some creasing or damage to many tissue guards. Volume I has a tape repair to the lower margin of page 101/102 with offset to page 103, several text pages have tears to lower margin (not affecting text) and has light dampstaining to the lower inner margin of most pages. Volume II has a short horizontal tear at the upper margin of page 9/10, and two tears (about two inches each) to the lower margin of the "War Dance" plate; the "Selocta" and "Asseola" plates are loose. Volume III has a tape repair to the lower margin of the title-page, and the title-page and facing Contents pages are creased with soiling along the lower margins; there is a tape repair to the lower corner of the final leaf, and the map leaf has damage to the fore-edge (as it protrudes a bit from the text block). A very good copy with the color still bright and vibrant and a very complete copy, compiled by someone with an eye for bibliographical perfection. "One of the most costly and important works ever published on the American Indians" (Field), "a landmark in American culture" (Horan) and an invaluable contemporary record of a vanished way of life, including some of the greatest American hand-colored lithographs of the 19th century.

    More Information:

    McKenney, who was superintendent of Indian trade from 1816-1822 and headed the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs from 1824-1830, collaborated with James Hall, the Illinois journalist, lawyer, state treasurer and from 1833 Cincinnati banker, to produce this book. The text, which was written by Hall based on information supplied by McKenney, takes the form of a series of biographies of leading figures amongst the Indian nations, followed by a general history of the North American Indians. The work is now famous for its color plate portraits of the chiefs, warriors and squaws of the various tribes, faithful copies of original oils by Charles Bird King painted from life in his studio in Washington (McKenney commissioned him to record the visiting Indian delegates) or worked up by King from the watercolors of the young frontier artist, James Otto Lewis. The original paintings were destroyed in the disastrous Smithsonian fire of 1865 so their appearance in this work preserves the only known likeness of many of the most prominent Indian leaders of the early 19th century. This was the most elaborate plate book produced in the United States to date, and its publication involved a number of different printers and lithographers. The publication of volume I (in 1836) was initially undertaken by Edward C. Biddle (as in the present set), Biddle's firm was taken over by Frederick W. Greenough, who re-issued volume I and published the first issue of volume II in 1842. Later, Greenough's firm was replaced by the printing form of Rice and Clark who re-issued volume I and volume II and published the first issue of volume III in 1844. The printing of the plates was chiefly carried out by Peter Duval of Lehman and Duval and James T. Bowen.

    BAL 6934. Bennett p. 79. Field 992. Howes M129. Lipperhiede Mc4. Reese, American Color Plate Books 24. Sabin 43410a.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2012
    4th-5th Thursday-Friday
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