CATLIN, George (1796-1872). Catlin's North American Indian Portfolio. Hunting Scenes and Amusements of the Rocky Mountains and Prairies of America. New York: R. Craighead for James Ackerman, 1845.
Broadsheets (557 x 384 mm). 25 hand-colored lithographed plates after Catlin by James Ackerman, on heavy paper, the rectos glazed; letterpress title-page, preface leaf, and six leaves of text. (Title lightly spotted, plates 5, 9, 13 with some very light overall browning, tissue guards lightly spotted but with virtually no transfer to plates, plate 25 with some minor marginal fingersoiling, plates 21-22 bound out of sequence, colors fine.) Publisher's half diced calf, brown boards, large brown diced calf lettering-piece on front cover, smooth spine gilt-ruled (inner hinges reinforced with linen tape, upper board edge bumped, some light wear at extremities). Provenance: Siday Hawes (gift label on front pastedown: "Siday Hawes from his friend Jesse Oakley").
FIRST AMERICAN EDITION, FIRST ISSUE. THE PLATES VERY FINE AND FRESH. A superb copy, in the publisher's binding, of the much scarcer American edition of Catlin's portfolio: "The coloring of the Ackermann issues is generally superb, not as bright as the almost gaudy Bohn card issues, and many have held that the American color is the best of any of the Catlin issues" (Reese).
A PIRATICAL MASTERPIECE. Ackerman, resentful that Catlin had produced his great work in London, shunning American craftsmanship, endeavored to undercut Catlin and Bohn by publishing an edition at about half the price. His American edition is an entirely separate production, pirated from the English edition and printed from new stones made by Ackerman. Three issues are known: colored on paper (as here); tinted on paper; and colored on card. The text reproduces that of the English edition, with the addition of Ackermann's introduction. In it, Ackermann outlines his wish to bring the book back to American soil: "The enthusiastic author of the London Edition of this splendid and talented work has practically succumbed to the prevailing yet unjust prejudice, and has carried the results of his daring genius and enterprise to a foreign mart; sending from abroad, and from the hands of European artists, an American production in foreign habilments to be patronized in the author's own land."
VERY RARE: of all three issues of the American edition, Reese only locates 13 copies; while only three other copies have appeared at auction since 1955. Bennett 22 ("Coloring superb... This book is of the most excessive rarity and worth several times the value of the more common British printing"); Howes C243; Reese, American Color Plate Books 25; Reese, "The Production of Catlin's North American Indian Portfolio, 1844-1876," unpublished; Sabin 11532 note; Wagner-Camp 105a:3.