The First Important Series of Native American Portraits To Be Published in America


(Philadelphia: Printed by Lehman & Duval, published by the author, 1835-36). 485 x 285 mm. (19 x 11 1/4"). [2] leaves of text (advertisements for the first and third series only), followed by plates. FIRST EDITION.

Expertly bound to style in brown half morocco over contemporary marbled paper-covered boards, smooth spine divided into six compartments by double gilt fillets, lettered in gilt in the second compartment, blue paper upper wrappers to original parts number 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9 bound in (part 1 as a title at the front, others at the rear). WITH 72 HAND-COLORED LITHOGRAPHIC PLATES (out of 80, as usual) after Lewis, printed by Lehman & Duval. Without the extremely rare lithograph title. Howes L-315; Sabin 40812; Reese, "Stamped with a National Character" 23. See also: Benezit VIII, 955. ◆Boards with a scattering of shallow chips, a couple of the bound-in wrappers with expert repairs, a handful of plates with very light soiling or faint thumb smudges, but AN EXTRAORDINARILY FINE COPY THROUGHOUT.

This is a remarkably fine copy of the first important series of Native American portraits to be published in the United States, predating both McKenney and Hall's "History of the Indian Tribes of North America," and Catlin's "North American Indian Portfolio." The plates mostly depict prominent chiefs and other notable tribal members in great detail, recording their style of dress, face paint, jewelry, weapons, and other accessories; below each likeness is the name of the sitter along with their rank and tribal affiliation, including the Sioux, Miami, Chippawa, Iowa, Shawnee, Potawatomi, Winnebago, and others. James Otto Lewis (1799-1858) completed most of the original sketches during trips he made with Michigan Governor Lewis Cass in 1825-27 to the Great Lakes area, where they attended the treaties of Prairie du Chien, Fort Wayne, Fond du Lac, and Green Bay. Though Lewis' artistic abilities are often cited as being less sophisticated than contemporaries Catlin or Charles Bird King, the illustrations here possess an earnest simplicity and communicate the realities an artist would have faced while working rapidly in the field, "far removed from the abodes of civilization" and with the "rude materials" he was able to bring with him. Originally issued in 10 parts with eight lithographs per part, Lewis' publication struggled to keep subscribers toward the end of its run, making the final two parts, in Reese's words, "famously rare as a result." Only three complete sets containing all 80 plates, a lithographed title page (issued with the final part), and three advertisement leaves are known to have sold at auction, making complete copies next to impossible to obtain. Our copy, containing 72 plates and two of the three advertisement leaves, is very nearly complete, and, unlike most copies on the market, also contains seven of the 10 original front wrappers. And it is an exceptionally attractive copy, with vibrant colors and clean, bright, and fresh leaves throughout.

Price: $95,000.00