(New York: Harper & Brothers, 1857). 191 x 127 mm. (7 1/2 x 5"). xvi, [ii], 17-435,  pp.,  leaves (ads). FIRST EDITION.
Publisher's brown buckram, flat spine with gilt titling. With 28 illustrations by the author, most showing life on the Northwest frontier, 18 of these full-page, one a folding map. Front free endpaper INSCRIBED BY THE AUTHOR: "Mrs. C. W. Philbrick / with compliments of / the Author / James G. Swan / Port Townsend October 13th / 1876"; front flyleaf with neatly stamped signature of Ellen Philbrick; front pastedown with bookplate of Frederick V. Holman (see below). Tweney 74; Howes S-1164. Spine a bit sunned, extremities slightly worn, small patches of water(?) stains to boards, other trivial imperfections, but a really excellent copy, fresh and clean internally, and the original fragile binding still solid and generally well preserved.
Described by Tweney as "one of the great classics of Pacific Northwest Americana," this is the first edition of one of the earliest accounts of life in the region, and our copy has direct ties to important early settlers of the territory. James Gilchrist Swan (1818-1900) was born in Massachusetts, where he grew up fascinated by his seafaring uncle's tales of voyages to the Northwest coast. In 1850, he set sail for Washington Territory, settling in Shoalwater (now Willapa) Bay in 1852 and working there as an oysterman (he later became a trader). This book tells of his life in the years 1852-55, giving an account unlike most frontier memoirs because of the great interest Swan took in the native population of the bay. He became friends with a local chief, Toke, and his wife Suis, and from them collected important ethnographic information on the Indians of the region. According to HistoryLink, the online encyclopedia of Washington state history, "Swan's appreciation of and efforts to record Indian art, technology, history, legends, and language made him a rarity among early Washington settlers," the book containing "detailed descriptions of Indian homes, crafts, hunting and fishing tools and techniques, religious ceremonies, songs, games, vocabularies of the Jargon and Chehalis languages, [and] illustrations by Swan, who was an accomplished artist. The book also describes Swan's travels, often with Indian friends, around the Bay and its tributary rivers, to Chinook and Astoria on the Columbia River, and up the Pacific coast to Grays Harbor and the Quinault River." In addition to its value as an ethnographic and travel book, the work served to encourage the settlement of the Pacific Northwest. Our copy was presented by Swan to Mrs. C. W. (Ellen) Philbrick, wife of the editor and publisher of the Port Townsend newspaper, the "Argus." A subsequent owner was Frederick Van Voorhies Holman (1852-1927), apparently the first white child born in the county now encompassing Pacific City, Oregon, where his parents were early settlers. Swan mentions staying with the hospitable Holmans on his travels (p. 243). The Holman family later moved to Portland, where they became leading citizens. (ST12019)
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PJP Catalog: SE18BF.060