CATLIN, George (1796-1872)
Illustrations of the Manners, Customs, and Condition of the North American Indians with letters and notes written during eight years of travel and adventure among the wildest and most remarkable tribes now existing
London: J.E. Adlard for Henry G.Bohn, 1866. 2 volumes, octavo. (9 5/16 x 5 3/4 inches). 313 hand-coloured etchings on 180 plates, including 3 maps (1 folding and printed in colours). (Upper outer corner of plate 105 torn away, clean tears to plates 151 and 179, all in vol.II).
Expertly bound to style in red half morocco over marbled paper covered boards, spines in six compartments with raised bands, lettered in gilt in the second and fourth compartments, with others with alternate decoration of either a large tool of a shoulder-length portrait of an Indian, or a tool showing a crossed peace-pipe and tomahawk, gilt edges
Deluxe issue: one of approximately twelve copies with the plates printed in outline and entirely coloured by hand.
This book was and is one of the most widely circulated works on American Indians written in the 19th century, and the illustrations so beautifully presented here remain the most important body of illustrative material of American Indian life in the American West. This is a later edition of Catlins' Letters and Notes ..., styled the "10th edition" on the titlepage: the London publisher, Henry Bohn, took over publication in 1845 and altered the title to that given above.
What is important in this copy is the coloured plates. According to Sabin "Mr. Bohn had twelve or more copies colored after the fancy of the artist who did the work, but tolerably well." - Sabin knew Bohn personally and was therefore certainly in a position to know. He goes on to state that 'Such copies are worth $60 a set' (this was probably a bit optimistic, and, in fact, a set brought $24 at the Field sale in 1875. But, in comparison, a copy of the Indian Portfolio... sold for only $1.50). Howes disagrees with Sabin and states that various editions published by Bohn appear with the plates coloured, however, given the quality of the work involved and the lack of any contemporary evidence amongst Bohn's advertising material of a more generally available coloured issue, it would seem likely that Sabin is correct.
The plates themselves are clean, fresh, and very handsomely coloured. It is impossible to identify the colourist, but it was quite possibly was one of the Catlin copyists working in England at that time, John Cullum or Rosa Bonheur. The plates illustrate scenes of Indian life in the West, and include a number of portraits of individual Indians.
Clark III:141; Field 260; Howes C241; McCracken 8K; cf. G.A.Miles & W.S.Reese America Pictured to the Life 55 (1848 edition); Pilling 685; Sabin 11537; Streeter Sale 4277; Wagner-Camp 84.