Item Details

Price: $27,000
PJP Catalog: 68.025

Beautifully Preserved Elaborate Decorated Morocco,
And with Especially Fine Hand Coloring


(Philadelphia: By D. Rice & A. N. Hart, 1855). 273 x 191 mm (10 3/4 x 7 1/2"). Three volumes.. Third Octavo Edition.

EXTREMELY ATTRACTIVE PUBLISHER'S PEBBLE-GRAIN CRIMSON MOROCCO, VERY ELABORATELY GILT, covers with many scrolling and foliate stamps, raised bands, spine compartments similarly gilt, all edges gilt. In a recently made sturdy matching linen slipcase. 120 RICHLY COLORED LITHOGRAPHS (including frontispieces) OF AMERICAN INDIANS. Front pastedowns with the monogram bookplate of "K. E. H." Howes M-129; Sabin [43411] (describing the octavo edition of 1850). Two joints with the slightest wear at top, three covers with very minor soiling, but THE BINDINGS EXTREMELY BRIGHT AND QUITE APPEALING. One leaf with one-inch tear at head, three plates (with especially large images and, so, consequently) trimmed close at foot (two of these with bottom line of publisher's imprint cut into), isolated trivial soiling, otherwise very well preserved internally. AN ESPECIALLY FINE COPY, WITH THE BEAUTIFUL PLATES REMARKABLY CLEAN AND RICHLY COLORED.

Sabin: "As early as 1824, the practice was begun of taking portraits of the principal Indians who came to Washington, and depositing them in the War Department. They were chiefly painted by Mr. King [Charles Bird King (1785-1862)], an artist of high repute, who has been remarkably successful in transferring to his canvas the strong lineaments of the Indian countenance. Col. McKenney, who was for many years superintendent of Indian affairs at Washington, and was thus brought in constant association with the principal men of the nations and tribes which sent representatives to the seat of government, conceived the plan of making this rare and curious collection more valuable to the world by publishing a series of engraved portraits exactly copied and colored from these paintings. With each portrait is connected a biographical sketch of the individual whom it is intended to represent, interspersed with anecdotes and narrations. The work contains also a historical account of the various Indian tribes within the borders of the United States." Howes calls these "the most colorful portraits of Indians ever executed," and points out that King's original oil paintings were all destroyed in the Smithsonian fire of 1865. The book was first published in parts in large folio from 1836-44. The preface to the octavo edition mentions that the celebrated large folio first printing of this work "has been pronounced by the learned and polished both of Europe and America, to be one of the most valuable and interesting productions of the present age," and indicates that the approbation afforded the earlier edition "has induced the publishers . . . to alter the size to royal octavo, and thus place [the work] within reach of the thousands, who, with taste and learning equal to those of the patrons of the large edition, have no less capacity to appreciate its worth and beauties." Among the octavo editions, the third is generally recognized as having the finest coloring. And in terms of a publisher's deluxe binding, the present intricately decorated red morocco could hardly be excelled. The folio edition, when complete and in attractive condition, now sells for a good deal more than $100,000. Copies of the octavo editions, which are textually augmented, are not extraordinarily rare, but a copy like the present one, in especially fine, fresh condition, certainly is uncommon.