Washington: Cornelius Wendell, 1857. First Edition. Cloth. Large 4to. Brown cloth with embossed decorations. Many steel engravings, woodcuts, and color lithographs throughout, as well as fold-out maps and charts bound in. Part I: [xvi], 258 pp. Part II: [xiii], 174 pp.
Cloth covering spine is removed, but binding is not affected. Wear to edges and corners. Black marks on right and bottom block edges and at bottom of title page. Ownership stamp of James E. Gillikan on front free endpaper, and signature of Sam G. Bugh on title page. Minor discoloration throughout, typically on right margin. Occasional offsetting to pages which face illustrations. Tight and clean, interior in excellent condition.
This is the first edition of the first volume of a seminal text of Western American history. William Hemsley Emory was the civil engineer and surveyor tasked with mapping the new border between the US and Mexico following the Mexican-American War, in which the US had acquired the New Mexico, Arizona, and Southern California territories. Emory's survey was famously thorough, including illustrations of biological and geological discoveries, anthropological studies of the Mexican and Native American populations, and landscape illustrations showing various views across the border from many locations and perspectives. Emory would later serve as a colonel in the Union army of the American Civil War. The relationships that Emory forged with Native American tribesmen during his survey, particularly his alliance with Black Beaver of the Lenape people, were instrumental in securing Union victories in Oklahoma and Kansas.
Emory's survey is an important document of the geology, botany, and anthropology of the mid-19th century American Southwest, generally agreed to be the most thorough of its kind. Many prominent scientists of the era contributed to the report, including botanist Charles C. Parry, artist/ethnographer Arthur Carl Victor Schott (whose color lithograph portraits are a high point of this volume), and geologist/paleontologist James Hall. Two additional volumes were printed, though not widely distributed. This hefty volume is a treasure not only of data, but of some of the most detailed, precise, and evocative landscape and portrait illustrations that this bookseller has encountered. An important book for any collector of Western Americana, scarce in this condition. (Howes E146; Sabin 22538; Wagner-Camp 291; Wikipedia). Very good. Item #1597