HARDING, Benjamin. A Tour Through the Western Country, A.D. 1818 & 1819...Published for the Use of Emigrants. New London: Samuel Green for the author, 1819.
8o in 4s (216 x 133 mm). (Circular loss [approx. 1½-in] to lower blank margin of title, fore-edge corners rounded, some light browning.) Tree calf antique, printed self-wrappers bound in. Provenance: William Woodbridge (1780-1861), see below (signature on title and at foot of 2/1v dated 29 January 1820); Frank T. Siebert (his sale Sotheby's New York, 28 October 1999, lot 807).
FIRST EDITION OF "ONE OF THE RAREST GUIDES OF THE PERIOD" (Streeter). The format of the volume produces a bibliographical conundrum, but it seems clear that Streeter, Wagner-Camp-Becker and Graff confused the self-wrapper for a half-title. Here the wrapper surrounds two octavo half sheets, paginated [1-3], 4-16, with the text of page 17 printed on the recto of the second leaf of the wrapper. The work is very rare, with the Siebert copy being the first to appear at auction since the Streeter copy in 1967.
Harding, a surveyor, "directed this pamphlet at prospective immigrants to the Ohio Valley, but also notes the beginning development on the Missouri River: 'At the mouth of the Osage river, which empties into the Missouri from the south west, four hundred miles up, was surveyed and laid out, the last season, a new town, under the inspection of William Rector, Surveyor General.' Harding also comments on the land along the Arkansas and Red rivers as well as the settlements on the Mississippi" (Wagner-Camp-Becker 15b). The volume's original owner, William Woodbridge, is most likely that born in New London (where the book was printed) who was a member of the Ohio State Senate (1813-1815), secretary of Michigan Territory (1815-1828), Michigan judge, and later Governor of Michigan (1840-1841) and Senator from Michigan (1841-1847). American Imprints 48162; Buck 129; Graff 1781; Sabin 30331; Streeter III:1330; Thompson Ohio 504.