RUSSELL, Andrew J. (1830-1902). The Great West Illustrated in a series of Photographic Views across the Continent; taken along the Line of the Union Pacific Railroad. New York: [by D.H. Prime for] the Union Pacific Railroad Company, 1869. First edition. A superb example of Russell's rare masterpiece: one of the most important photobooks of its century, and a remarkable visual record of the opening of the American west. Following his service in the Civil War – he was the Army’s first official photographer— Russell was commissioned by the Union Pacific Railway to document construction on the stretch between Omaha, Nebraska and Promontory Point, Utah. He made three extended trips in 1868-1869 each with huge cameras, crates of glass plates, and copious chemicals. Russell’s book is very rare, with only about 24 copies thought to exist. Of these most are in institutions, and they are typically in poor condition, far inferior to the present example. There is some variation between copies in the selection, finish and trimming of the images. A complete plate listing is available on request. Combs, pp. 24-29, 34-35, 39, 40, 60 and 64-65; NYPL 201; Truthful Lens 142. Oblong folio (324 x 459 mm). Text within red decorative borders printed in red with rail imagery at corners. 50 albumen prints (each c.210 x 295mm,) on mounts with printed captions (plate 9 with a faint stain along the right edge, occasional light surface wear, some minor spots). Original half roan over brown cloth, the spine and upper side lettered in gilt, the lower side lettered in blind, edges gilt, white moiré style endpapers (extremities lightly rubbed).