MCKENNEY, Thomas L., HALL James. History of the Indian Tribes of North America, with biographical sketches and anecdotes of the principal chiefs. Embellished with one hundred and twenty portraits from the Indian gallery in the Department of War, at Washington. Philadelphia, Edward C. Biddle (vol. 1), Frederick W. Greenhough (vol. 2), Daniel Rice and James G. Clark (vol. 3), 1836-38-44.
3 volumes folio [500 x 363 mm] with 120 hand-colored lithographed plates and uncolored lithographed map (Western Reserve blindstamp on each plate within image). Contemporary half-calf (worn), name in gilt William L. Marcy on cover label.
First edition of “the grandest color plate book issued in the United States up the time of its publication” (Reese).
The most important of the books dedicated to American Indians and the most spectacular illustrated work published at this time in America with colored lithographs. Sabin 43410. Howes M129. Bennett p. 79; BAL 6934; Field 992; Reese Stamped with a National Character: Nineteenth Century American Color Plate Books 24.
“Its long and checkered publication history spanned twelve years and involved multiple lithographers (mainly Peter S. Duval and James T. Bowen) and publishers, but the final product is one of the most distinctive and important books in Americana. Almost all the plates are portraits of individual Native Americans, the majority painted from life by Charles Bird King (who also reworked the less skilfull portraits of James Otto Lewis). The complicated circumstances of its production have left a bibliographical stew of issues and issue points that are yet to be satisfactorily resolved” (Reese.).
The practice of taking portraits of the principal American Indians who came to Washington had begun as early as 1824. Chiefly painted by Charles Bird King, they were deposited in the War Department. Col. McKenney, Superintendent of Indian Affairs in Washington, conceived of the plan of making a collection of biographies, enhanced by the addition of the portraits. A biographical sketch accompanies each portrait, and the work also contains a general history of the various Indian tribes within the borders of the United States.
This superb work represents the most famous collection of portraits of Indian chiefs ever published. Made from the portraits painted by Charles Bird King, it is composed of 120 exquisite full-page colored lithographs “the most beautiful ever executed”.
Each portrait comes with a biography of the Indian chief pictured with anecdotes and juicy details.
The book also encloses an account about the various Indians tribes of the United-States.
A beautiful copy, complete, illustrated with very bright engravings.
Provenance: William L. Marcy (name in gilt on cover label); Western Reserve Historical Society (inkstamps and blindstamps on titles).