24 June 2009
THE PROPERTY OF A LADY
McKENNEY, Thomas L. (1785-1859) and James HALL (1793-1868). History of the Indian Tribes of North America. Philadelphia: Edward C. Biddle (vol. I) and Frederick W. Greenough, 1836-38.
2 volumes (of 3) only, 2o (513 x 363 mm). 78 hand-colored lithographed plates (some offsetting from text, occasional foxing, one plate chipped at edge). Varying contemporary half calf (worn, vol. 2 spine lacking).
FIRST EDITION OF "THE GRANDEST COLOR PLATE BOOK ISSUED IN THE UNITED STATES UP TO THE TIME OF ITS PUBLICATION" (Reese). "Its long and checkered publication history spanned twelve years and involved multiple lithographers (mainly Peter S. Duval and James T. Bowen) and publishers, but the final product is one of the most distinctive and important books in Americana. Almost all the plates are portraits of individual Native Americans, the majority painted from life by Charles Bird King" (ibid) who was employed by the War Department to paint the Indian delegates visiting Washington D.C. His work formed the basis of the War Department's Indian Gallery, but most of King's original paintings were subsequently destroyed in a fire at the Smithsonian, and McKenney and Hall's magnificent work is the only record of the likenesses of many 19th-century Indian leaders. A biographical sketch accompanies each portrait, and the work also contains a general history of the various Indian tribes within the borders of the United States. Sold as a collection of plates, not subject to return. Bennett p.79; BAL 6934; Field 992; Howes M-129; Reese Nineteenth Century American Color Plate Books 24; Sabin 43410a.
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