First American Edition of Catlin's Important Work on the Indians of North America

    George Catlin. Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Condition of the North American Indians. By Geo. Catlin. With four hundred illustrations, carefully engraved from his original paintings. New York: Wiley and Putnam, 1841.

    First American edition. Two octavo volumes. vii, 264; viii, 266. Frontispiece. Hundreds of black and white illustrations. Three maps, one folding. Appendices. Errata sheet.

    Original cloth over boards. Blind designs to boards. Front boards decorated with artist's palette design. Gilt lettering to spines. Bookplate and inked name on front endpapers of both volumes by a previous owner, prominent Baltimorean James Howard McHenry (1820-1888). Some sunning to the bindings; moderate shelf-wear. Slight foxing to some of the plates. A tight, clean, unsophisticated set of this classic in very good condition.

    The errata sheet reads: "Although it may appear to the reader, from the absence of numbers, that there are several of the Illustrations wanting, yet he will find that all the plates referred to in the text, are in the Book, and in their places, as the author designed them, and the work therefore complete." Howes maintains that the first British and first American editions lacked the plates numbered 23, 137, 142, 149, 159, 246, 247, and that there were added plates numbered 101 ½, 210 ½, and three unnumbered plates. This copy follows Howes, however plates number 1 and 2 are missing. Also, plates 62, 252, and 271/272 are out of sequence. The plates are engravings after drawings Catlin made of his own paintings from his tour of North America (from 1832 to 1839) when he visited, according to his records, forty-eight tribes. His hope to sell the paintings to the American government failed, and so he began to tour his Indian Gallery to paying audiences in the United States and abroad. While in England, Catlin began work on this book, preparing the images for the engraver and editing his field notes for the text, which was presented as a series of letters.

    Field 260. Howes C241. Sabin 11536. Wagner-Camp 84:3.

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    October, 2010
    14th-16th Thursday-Saturday
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