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McKENNEY, Thomas L., & James Hall.

History of the Indian Tribes of North America...

with biographical sketches and anecdotes of the principal chiefs. Embellished with one hundred and twenty portraits, from the Indian Gallery in the Department of War, at Washington.

Availability: In stock

Published: Philadelphia D. Rice & A. N. Hart, 1855

Stock Code: 111813

OR On display in 100 Fulham Road


Third octavo edition, originally published 1848-50, following the folio edition of 1836-44. A magnificent record of Native American dignitaries - "the most colourful portraits of Indians ever executed" (Howes).
McKenney, who was Superintendent of Indian trade from 1816-1822 and headed the US Bureau of Indian Affairs from 1824-1830, collaborated with James Hall, the Illinois journalist, lawyer, state treasurer and from 1833 Cincinnati banker, to produce this famous work. The text, which was written by Hall based on information supplied by McKenney, takes the form of a series of biographies of leading figures amongst the Indian nations, followed by a general history of the Native Americans. The work is now famous for its colour plate portraits of the chiefs, warriors and women of the various tribes, faithful copies of original oils by Charles Bird King painted from life in his studio in Washington (McKenney commissioned him to record the visiting Indian delegates) or worked up by King from the water-colours of the young frontier artist, James Otto Lewis. The original paintings were destroyed in the disastrous Smithsonian fire of 1865 so their appearance in this work preserves the only known likeness of many of the most prominent Native American leaders of the early 19th century. This was the most elaborate plate book produced in the United States to that date, and its publication involved a number of different printers and lithographers.

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3 volumes, large octavo (263 x 168 mm). Publisher's deluxe binding of dark brown morocco over bevelled boards, spines gilt lettered, blind ruled and with a blind "Aldine leaf" motif in compartments, sides blind stamped with a large ornamental block, all edges gilt, yellow coated endpapers.


120 hand-coloured lithograph plates by J. T. Bowen, mostly after Charles Bird King.


Pictorial bookplate of George Raithel Brooks, St Louis, director of the Missouri Historical Society. Bindings a little rubbed at extremities, occasional thumbing, inner joints cracked but sound. A very good set.


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