Clive A. Burden LTD. Rare Maps, Antique Atlases, Books and Decorative Prints

The Mapping of North America

Mr. Philip D. Burden‚Äč
P.O. Box 863,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks HP6 9HD,
Tel: +44 (0) 1494 76 33 13

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The first German edition of the greatest of the North American Indian plate books in its rarest and most desirable form. It is recorded by Howgego that only 277 copies were printed. Upon his return to Germany Maximilian organized his field notes for publication. Meanwhile, Karl Bodmer, in Paris, prepared a series of aquatints based on his watercolours; these would illustrate Maximilian’s account of his adventures. Maximilian’s insistence that the text be published in a deluxe edition, illustrated with a total of eighty-one prints made publishers wary. The popularity of such works was waning. Maximilian persisted and in 1839 the first text and prints were ready for distribution to a disappointingly few subscribers. A French edition in 1840-42 and the English translation in 1843 were no more successful. For both it was a disaster financially. Bodmer spent a total of eight years supervising a group of the best French and Swiss etchers to produce the aquatints.

The plates represent the first truly accurate depictions of the Plains Indians to reach the general public. The smallpox epidemic of 1837 killed more than half the Blackfeet and almost all the Mandans. Evan by the time of the English edition of 1843 the translator Evans Lloyd referred to ‘the almost total extinction’ of many of the peoples surveyed in the work.

The list of subscribers in the second text volume states that these plates were available in five issues: with all plates uncoloured; with all plates uncoloured on india paper; with 61 uncoloured and 20 coloured plates; with 61 uncoloured plates in india paper and 20 coloured plates; and with all plates hand-coloured on wove ‘velin imperial papier’. This set is from the last and most desirable issue. The thirty-three vignettes are often found printed on half sheets and bound with the text. The text itself is often lacking. This example not only has the text but has the vignettes printed and bound on full size paper in the atlas volume. The value of Maximilian’s text has been overshadowed by the splendour of the plates but is itself of great importance. Not always present with the plates this is the original issue in German. The later French and English translations devalued it. Field, in particular, attacks bitterly the translator of the English edition who chose to eliminate the extensive Indian vocabularies found in the original German edition. It is interesting to note that in the sale of the Field library his copy of the English edition was accompanied by a set of the German text ‘to cover this defect’! Provenance: private German collection; private English collection. Abbey Travel 615; Field 1036; Goetzmann 21; Graff 4649; Howes M443a; Howgego (2004) ‘Encyclopedia of Exploration 1800 to 1850’ W30; Sabin 47014; Wagner-Camp-Becker 76:1; Wheat Transmississippi West 2 no. 445.


Reise in das Innere Nord-America in den Jahren 1832 bis 1834

J. Hoelscher, Coblenz, 1839-41
THE FIRST GERMAN EDITION IN TRULY SUPERB EARLY WASH COLOUR. Large oblong folio, in contemporary boards rebacked using the original label. The boards with ornate gilt decoration. With eighty-one plates in full original colour to a particularly high standard, many heightened with gum arabic, with protective tissue. Sixty two plates in their first state, the remaining nineteen in the second state. With the engraved map with the route partially coloured. With two volumes of large quarto text in full contemporary russia calf, with ornate gilt work, re-hinged.
Stock number: 7783


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