MÖLLHAUSEN, Heinrich Balduin (1825-1905). Tagebuch einer Reise vom Mississippi nach den Kusten der Sudsee. Introduction by Alexander von Humboldt. Leipzig: Hermann Mendelssohn 1858.
2 volumes, 4o (321 x 252 mm). Half-title in vol. 2, two title-pages. Engraved title vignette of the Colorado River after Möllhausen, 7 chromolithographed plates mounted on card and 6 tinted lithographed plates after Möllhausen, engraved folding map after Henry Lange, partially colored by hand, 10 wood engravings in text. (Occasional foxing to fore-margins and a few plates.) Original publisher's blue-grey printed wrappers, ENTIRELY UNCUT AND UNOPENED (minor repair to hinge and one short tear in front wrapper of vol. 1); green cloth protective box. Provenance: William C. Braislin (acquired from Lathrop C. Harper, May 1927, pencilled notes); Thomas W. Streeter (bookplate, acquired from L.C. Harper, 1927, according to a pencilled note; his sale Parke-Bernet, 22 October 1968, lot 3235).
FIRST EDITION, A SUPERB COPY IN THE RARE ORIGINAL WRAPPERS. Only two copies (including this one) in original wrappers have been sold at auction in the last century, according to American Book Prices Current. The preliminary title-page in vol. 1 was meant to be replaced by the half-title, title-page and preliminaries in vol. 2 when the book was bound in publisher's blue gilt-pictorial cloth.
Möllhausen, a Berlin-born artist, first visited the American frontier in 1847-1852. Back in Germany he befriended Alexander von Humboldt, then returned to the U.S. and secured the post of artist and topographer with Lt. A.W. Whipple's Pacific Railroad expedition, scouting possible transcontinental railroad routes at the 35th parallel. Departing Fort Smith on the Arkansas, the Whipple expedition crossed Texas and northern New Mexico and Arizona, arriving at Los Angeles some nine months later. Möllhausen's fine lithographs constitute an important pictorial record of this expedition and the Pueblo Indians and other tribes encountered. His account features interesting ethnographical and anecdotal details not present in the official survey reports. "In addition to the account in journal form of his experiences as topographer of Whipple's surveying expedition...there is an account of his experiences in the West in 1851 on a trip from St. Louis to Laramie..." (Streeter). Graff 2851; Howes M-713 ("b"); Sabin 49914; Streeter V:3135 (this copy); R. Taft, "The Pictorial Record of the Old West: Heinrich Balduin Möllhausen," in Kansas Historical Quarterly, August 1948, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 224-225; Wagner-Camp-Becker 305:1 (collates as a single vol.); Wheat Mapping the Transmississippi West 955.