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[THE ABORIGINAL PORT FOLIO OR A COLLECTION OF PORTRAITS OF THE MOST CELEBRATED CHIEFS OF THE NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS]
Philadelphia: Published by J.O. Lewis, 1835-1836.. Seventy-two handcolored lithographic plates. Extra- illustrated with an original parts wrapper from part number 3. Folio. Contemporary calf "bound by R. Allen. Late S. Bennett...Mercury Office, Nottingham" (see binder's label on front pastedown), covers paneled in gilt, titled in gilt on upper cover "Aboriginal / Port-Folio"; expertly rebacked to style, spine gilt, red morocco label, marbled endpapers. Very good. One of the rarest 19th- century American color plate books and the first major American color plate book on American Indians. Scarcer than McKenney and Hall's HISTORY OF THE INDIAN TRIBES, Prince Maximilian's REISE IN DAS INNERE VON NORD- AMERICA or CATLIN'S NORTH AMERICAN INDIAN PORTFOLIO, Lewis' work records the dress of the Potawatomi, Winnebago, Shawnee, Sioux, Miami, Fox, Iowa, and other tribes at treaties of Prairie du Chien, Fort Wayne, Fond du Lac, and Green Bay. THE ABORIGINAL PORT FOLIO was published in Philadelphia by lithographers George Lehman and Peter S. Duval. It was issued in ten parts, with each part containing eight plates. Given the size of the undertaking, the first nine parts were issued remarkably quickly, and appeared monthly between May 1835 and January 1836. The reason for this haste is probably that Lewis was aware that the imminent appearance of the first part of McKenney and Hall's HISTORY OF THE INDIAN TRIBES OF NORTH AMERICA would adversely affect his subscriber numbers. The evidence of the surviving copies suggests that his fears were well-founded as there are a number of sets made up from eight parts (with sixty-four plates), but very few with nine parts (seventy-two plates) and ten-part sets with the full complement of a frontispiece/title-leaf and eighty plates are virtually never found: only the Siebert copy is listed as having sold at auction in the past twenty-five years, and there are only about a half dozen or so other recorded sets (the Siebert set, and one other, are the only two examples to include the titlepage). The binding of the present set can be dated to between 1836 and 1847: in 1836 Samuel Bennett died and Richard Allen took over as proprietor of the Nottingham Mercury. In 1847 the proprietorship passed to Thomas Bailey. James O. Lewis was born in Philadelphia in 1799, moved west as a teenager, and had become an engraver and painter by the time he was living in St. Louis in 1820. In 1823 he moved to Detroit, and painted the first of his Indian portraits at the request of Gov. Lewis Cass of Michigan. He accompanied Cass on four Indian treaty expeditions in the Great Lakes region in 1825-27 and painted Indians during the course of each. Virtually all of the originals of the images published here were executed by Lewis in this period. Subsequently, many of the Lewis portraits were copied by Charles Bird King, and some appeared in the King versions in the McKenney and Hall portfolio. All of the Lewis originals were destroyed in the Smithsonian fire of 1865. BENNETT, p.68. EBERSTADT 131:418. FIELD 936. HOWES L315. SABIN 40812. REESE, STAMPED WITH A NATIONAL CHARACTER 23. William Reese, JAMES OTTO LEWIS AND HIS ABORIGINAL PORTFOLIO (New Haven, 2008).
      [Bookseller: William Reese Company - Americana]
Last Found On: 2013-09-12           Check availability:      Biblio    

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