Octavo (270 x 185 mm.), 3 volumes, early elaborate blind stamped full calf, blind compartments to gilt ribbed spine with gilt embossed titles. With hand-coloured lithograph frontispiece leaf and 120 coloured lithographic plates, most with tissue guards, some foxing to text and guards but the plates are generally very clean.
SECOND OCTAVO EDITION. The ‘Indian Tribes of North America’ by Thomas McKenney and James Hall first published in folio between 1836-44 is one of the great North American Indian colour plate books and the grandest published in America to date. The 120 portraits it contained were largely drawn from the paintings of the artist Charles Bird King of visiting Indian delegates to Washington D.C. They were commissioned by McKenney on behalf of the War Department. Unfortunately these were destroyed in a fire at the Smithsonian in 1865. McKenney & Hall’s work is therefore the only accurate record of many of the great Indian figures of the nineteenth century.
McKenney was the Superintendent of Indian trade from 1816-1822 and became concerned about the future survival of the western tribes. Not afraid to speak his mind he was eventually made head of the US Bureau of Indian Affairs by President Monroe from 1824-1830. This position took him on several trips to the west to oversee treaties with the Chippewa, Menominee and Winnebago. James Hall was a banker from Cincinnati who had been a journalist in Illinois, lawyer and state treasurer. The two of them collaborated to produce this book. The text was written by Hall but drew on the knowledge of McKenney. The work contains a general history of North American Indians and 120 biographies, each accompanied by a fine lithographic plate. It was an immediate success.
Between 1848 and 1850 an octavo edition was published with 120 lithographs drawn by J. T. Bowen. The quality of the plates was such that it is stated that any of the first four editions include high quality images in terms of printing and colouring. This is an example of the second octavo edition published by D. Rice and A. N. Hart. Provenance: with bookplate of Frank Henry Goodyear Library; acquired 1994 for private English collection. Horan ‘The McKenney-Hall Portrait Gallery of American Indians’; Howes M129; Miles & Reese ‘America Pictured to the Life’ no. 53; Sabin 43411; Viola ‘Thomas L. McKenney, Architect of America’s Early Indian Policy: 1816-30’; Viola ‘The Indian Legacy of Charles Bird King’.