The Pacific Railroad Surveys
The Pacific Railroad Surveys
The Pacific Railroad Surveys
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The Pacific Railroad Surveys
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The Pacific Railroad Surveys

SENATE ISSUE, 1855-1860

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The Pacific Railroad Surveys
Senate issue, 1855-1860
PACIFIC RAILROAD SURVEYS. Reports of Explorations and Surveys, to Ascertain the Most Practicable and Economical Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, Made Under the Direction of the Secretary of War, in 1853-4. Washington, D.C.: Beverley Tucker [vols 1-11], Thomas Ford [vol -12], 1855-1860.

The first complete quarto Senate issue in original bindings, issued just prior to the start of construction of the transcontinental railroad from Omaha to California. The James F. Hunnewell set. "The Pacific Railroad Surveys of the 1850s, undertaken to determine possible routes for a transcontinental railroad, were the vehicles for the most extensive scientific studies of the 19th century funded by the U.S. government. The geography, geology, and natural history of the American West was exhaustively investigated in a series of expeditions, and the results were published in a thirteen-volume set containing hundreds of hand-colored lithographs and chromolithographs, as well as steel cuts and woodcuts. It is estimated that a total of twenty-one million plates (both colored and uncolored) by different New York and Philadelphia firms were produced by the series between 1855 and 1860. In sheer numbers, it was the greatest printing project of the century" (Stamped with a National Character). Each report was printed as it was received and the sprawling set was issued first in a partial octavo and then quarto formats. Oddly, volume 11 in this set has a title-page dated 1855, even though it contains reports through 1860. Vol. 12 is third issue with Senate Doc. unnumbered. Best of the West 138; Howes P-3; Stamped with a National Character 75; Wagner-Camp 262-267.

12 volumes bound in 13, as issued, quarto (279 x 220). Over 600 plates and folding maps/charts, including tinted lithographs and some hand-colored ornithology plates (intermittent toning and scattered spots/foxmarks, vol. 1 with corner stain affecting text in the last 20 pages and portions of the folding maps, vol. 5 with pale dampstain to first several leaves, one of the panorama views in vol. 11 separated at fold, the large maps in vol. 11 are brittle with some clean tears through panels and small losses at folds and corners, small corner stain at beginning of vol. 12, part 1). Original half morocco over marbled boards (vol. 1 with stain and slight warping to lower cover, vol. 10 with upper cover started, vol. 12 text block detached from spine, some overall rubbing and minor abrasions, corners showing, small chip from head of vol. 1 spine). Provenance: James Frothingham Hunnewell, 1832-1910, bibliographer and senior member of the American Antiquarian Society (bookplates in each volume).

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