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