April 2016 | Nate Pedersen

NY Preview: History of the Indian Tribes of North America

26238-1.jpgAmong the highlights at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair this weekend is a complete three-volume set of "History of the Indian Tribes of North America," by Thomas McKenney and James Hall, one of the undisputed high points of Americana collecting. The set, offered for sale by Donald A. Heald for $170,000, is inclusive of a fourth volume containing the original front and rear wrappers from each of the original 20 parts. 

The first edition of "one of the most costly and important [works] ever published on the American Indians" (Field), includes 120 beautifully hand-colored lithographic plates, considered to be some of the best examples of the lithographic arts produced in the 19th century. The book was published in Philadelphia by Edward C. Biddle, etc., between 1837 and 1844.

The book was a passion project from Thomas McKenney, a director of the Office of26238-12.jpg Indian Affairs, and James Hall, a journalist and lawyer, who hoped to preserve an accurate visual record of rapidly vanishing Native culture. The color plate portraits include many famous chiefs of the early 19th century, such as Sequoyah and Red Jacket, who were painted by Charles Bird King from life in his Washington studio.

At time of publication, "History of the Indian Tribes of North America" was the most elaborate plate book produced in the United States.

26238-8.jpgThis copy, with a morocco binding over period cloth, is particularly special for including the rare original wraps in a fourth volume. In his description of the book, Heald mentions that "copies with their original wrappers are of the utmost scarcity and seldom found."

Donald Heald can be found in both C1 at the fair.