[ROOSEVELT, Franklin, Contribution by.] KNOX, Dudley W. Naval Sketches of the War in California Reproducing Twenty-eight Drawings Made in 1846-47 by William H. Meyers Gunner on the U.S. Sloop-of-War Dale. Introduction by Franklin D. Roosevelt. New York: [Printed at the Grabhorn Press for] Random House, 1939.
Folio. 28 color plates reproducing watercolors by William H. Meyers. Original vellum-backed marbled boards (spine discolored).
"GREAT HAS BEEN THE PROGREES OF BOTH REPUBLICS IN THE INTERVENING YEARS"
LIMITED EDITION, one of 1,000 copies, PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY FDR TO HIS SON on the front free endpaper: "For John A. Roosevelt with love from Father Franklin D. Roosevelt Christmas 1939." Among the many collecting areas which occupied FDR, stamps and American naval iconography dominated his interests. His acquisition of Meyer's sketchbook was a profound event for him: "In many years of collecting sketches, paintings and engravings relating to the navy of the United States, I had found virtually none which had connections with naval operations in the Pacific in 1846 and 1847 (during the war with Mexico). When, therefore, I had the opportunity a few years ago of acquiring the original sketchbook of Gunner William H. Meyers, U.S.N., I realized its historical value." FDR paid $900 for the sketchbook, the highest he had ever paid for an item in his naval collection. It was purchased at a particularly sprited moment for FDR, however, being the first purchase he made following his election to the presidency in 1932. Roosevelt's introduction outlines his attraction to the subject: "By means of Meyers' realistic sketches now published for the first time, we are enabled to follow the epic naval conquest of California with an understanding which has heretofore been impossible... To all of us, and especially to the millions who dwell today on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, this pictorial record will emphasize the amazing strides of civilization in what was, within the memory of persons alive today, a primitive and inaccessible part of the world." Halter T253. INSCRIBED COPIES ARE SCARCE.