HARRIS, William C.
The Fishes of North America that are captured on Hook and Line. With eighty colored plates made from oil portraits of living fishes before their color tints had faded
New York: the Fishes of North America Publishing Co., 1898. Vol.I (all published), folio. (18 3/4 x 12 inches). 40 chromolithographic plates by Armstrong & Co (24), Geo. H. Walker (4) and others after John L. Petrie (4 plates mounted, as issued), one full-page uncoloured illustration, numerous uncoloured illustrations of fish within the text. (Old repairs to three text leaves and 1 plate: "Spanish Mackerel").
Bound to style in green half morocco over contemporary green cloth-covered boards, the covers ruled in gilt and stamped with the gilt arms of a British Ducal family, spine in six compartments with raised bands, ruled and lettered in gilt
A very rare work with forty "very beautifully drawn and color-printed plates of fishes" (Bennett).
The original intention was that this work should be complete in two volumes with a total of 80 plates: only this first volume was ever published, yet it ranks along with Kilbourne and Goode's Game Fishes of the United States (New York, 1879) as one of the two greatest illustrated ichthyological works of the 19th century. The plates are printed by at least two firms: the majority are by Armstrong & Co. (The Riverside Press) of Cambridge, Mass., a few others are signed by Geo. H. Walker & Co of Boston. Twelve are without an imprint. As the preface makes clear this work was a labour of love for both the author and artist: "I have been engaged nearly a quarter of a century in gathering the notes from which the text of this book has been written, and twelve years in procuring the oil portraits of living fish, caught from their native waters, that I might obtain lithographic facsimiles ... The aggregate distance travelled was 28,558 miles, and the days occupied in transit and in catching and painting the fishes numbered nine hundred and seventy-two, or eighty-one working days of each angling season during twelve years. Mr. John L. Petrie, the artist, has been my steadfast companion during this protracted but pleasant task. He has painted the portraits of each fish represented ... from living specimens caught on my own rod, with the exception of the Pacific Salmons, which were taken alive in traps."
Bennett p.51; Bruns H80; McGrath p.197 (parts issue); Nissen ZBI 1840; Wetzel 153.