Hand-Colored Portraits from the Indian Gallery of the U.S. War Department

    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: D. Rice and A. N. Hart, 1854, 1855.

    Three octavo volumes. iv, 333; xvii, 290; iv, 292 pages. 120 hand-colored plates, inclusive of frontispieces, with tissue guards.

    Contemporary full red morocco over boards. Gilt fillets and designs to boards. Raised bands. Gilt lettering and decorations to spines. All edges gilt. Slight bumping and rubbing to the bindings. Some black discoloration to the top edges of boards and the foot of the spines. Missing title page from Volume III, though frontispiece and all plates are complete. Inked name of previous owner on front pastedowns. Overall an attractive and sturdy set in very good condition.

    "As early as 1824, the practice was begun of taking portraits of the principal Indians who came to Washington, and depositing them in the War Department. They were chiefly painted by Mr. King, an artist of high repute, who has been remarkably successful in transferring to his canvas the strong lineaments of the Indian countenance. Col. M'Kinney [sic], who was for many years superintendent of Indian affairs at Washington, and was thus brought in constant association with the principal men of the nations and tribes which sent representatives to the seat of government, conceived the plan of making this rare and curious collection more valuable to the world by publishing a series of engraved portraits exactly copied and colored from these paintings" (Sabin). The folio edition of History of the Indian Tribes of North America, proved successful enough to issue this royal octavo edition to appeal to a broader readership. The octavo edition was "[r]evised and enlarged by McKenney, who probably wrote the unsigned historical sketch of the Indian race in Volume III; Hall contributed the 'Essay on the History of the North American Indians,' which follows" (Blair, et al.). Also added to the octavo edition is the plate of Red Bird (frontispiece to Volume II).

    Blair, The Indian Tribes of the Upper Mississippi Valley and Region of the Great Lakes, 332. Howes M 129. Sabin, 43410a, 43411.

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