DescriptionThomas 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: Frederick W. Greenough (volumes I and II) and Daniel Rice & James G. Clark (volume III), 1838 (volumes I and II), 1844 (volume III). First edition. BAL's state A of volumes II and III, state C of volume I. Three large folio volumes. Approximately 20.25 x 14 inches. [2, blank], -4, -206, [1, contents], [3, blank]; [2, blank], -237, [3, blank]; [2, blank], , -196], [2, Pocahontas], [17, Subscribers], [3, blank] 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, seventeen pages of lithographic facsimile signatures of the original subscribers. The "War Dance" plate is in BAL's state D and the "Red Jacket" plate is in state F (the order of the plates is "all but arbitrary.") Errata slip in volume II (facing page 58). All tissue guards present. Bound in publisher's three-quarter brown morocco over brown cloth. Front boards and spines decoratively stamped and lettered in gilt. All edges gilt, yellow coated endleaves. All volumes skillfully rebacked, preserving original spines. Hinges professionally repaired. Some rubbing to bindings. Some intermittent foxing and toning in text, tissue guards foxed. Some offsetting to plates. Page 172 in volume II (a text page) has an eleven-inch closed tear at the bottom margin, expertly repaired and not affecting text. A beautiful set, with plates generally quite clean. Housed in later custom-built slipcases.
"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. BAL 6934. Bennett p. 79. Field 992. Howes M129. Lipperheide Mc4. Reese, American Color Plate Books 24. Sabin 43410a.
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, 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.
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