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    Early Octavo Edition, Complete with 120 Hand-Colored Plates

    Thomas 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. ... In Three Volumes. Philadelphia: Published by D. Rice & A.N. Hart, 1858.

    Early octavo edition of one of the most celebrated nineteenth-century American color plate books. Three royal octavo volumes (10.375 x 6.75 inches; 264 x 171 mm). Complete with 120 lithographic plates by J. T. Bowen after paintings by Charles Bird King and James Otto Lewis, all colored by a contemporary hand, many highlighted with gouache. Original tissue guards intact.

    Uniformly bound in publisher's original full brown morocco, boards elaborately stamped in blind, spines lettered in gilt and stamped in blind in compartments, five raised bands, board edges and turn-ins tooled in blind. Cream colored endpapers. All edges gilt. Near-contemporary ownership inscription ("Lucy Whitfield") to front free endpapers. Small annotation in blue ink to third leaf recto of Volume I. Foxing, spotting, and offsetting to tissue guards throughout, as is nearly always the case. Endpapers soiled. Rubbing to board extremities, upper outer corner of Volume II front board slightly abraded. Volume I hinges reinforced with book tape; Volume II hinges and Volume III front hinge starting but all boards still holding very tight. Volume I frontispiece split along inner margin and rebound between the third and fourth leaves at an early date; the frontispieces in Volumes II and III creased along inner margin but still intact. Plate [11] in Volume III ("A Winnebago") and tissue guard loose. Overall a very good copy of this respected set.

    "[O]ne of the most costly and important [works] ever published on the American Indians. The plates are accurate portraits of celebrated chiefs, or of characteristic individuals of the race; and are colored with care, to faithfully represent their features and costumers" (Field).

    "The most colorful portraits of Indians ever executed" (Howes).

    McKenney, head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs from 1824-1830, collaborated with Illinois journalist James Hall to produce the folio edition of History of the Indian Tribes of North America (1838), largely to instruct the American public about Native American culture but also to preserve for posterity the images of the great chiefs. The work was celebrated in its time for its beautiful color plate portraits, and as with another renowned nineteenth-century American color plate book, Audubon's Birds of America, a more inexpensive and accessible royal octavo version was published later.

    The remarkable hand-colored lithographic plates, which capture in extraordinary detail the elaborate costumes, tattoos, and face paint designs of the chiefs and warriors from various tribes, were executed after original oil paintings by Washington portrait painter Charles Bird King, commissioned by McKenney to paint visiting tribal delegates (King also based several paintings on watercolors undertaken by frontier artist James Otto Lewis). As King's original paintings were destroyed in a fire which ravaged the Smithsonian in 1865, the plates in Indian Tribes of North America remain the only visual record of many nineteenth-century Native American leaders.

    Field 992. Howes M129. Sabin 43411.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2010
    11th-12th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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