Catalog Archive
Auction 181, Lot 99

"[2 Volumes] Picturesque America; or, the Land We Live In...", Bryant, William C.

Subject: United States & Canada

Period: 1872-74 (published)


Color: Black & White

10.4 x 13.2 inches
26.4 x 33.5 cm

"Picturesque America" was published by Appleton & Co., New York, 1872-75. It was the most elaborate publication of travel imagery produced in the 1870s. This publication set out to reveal the unique and varied scenery of all of America. This was made possible by the recent opening of transcontinental railroads and overland communications. It was considered the definitive treatment of the American landscape, and its appearance just before the nation's Centennial graphically marked the United States' progress in exploration and development of scenic wonders during its first century. Appleton employed many of America's most celebrated and respected artists to prepare the illustrations.

These are some of the most beautiful plate books on the United States and Canada ever produced. Volume I contains 24 fine steel engraved views and 284 wood engravings, many full-page including works by Thomas Moran, Harry Fenn, Granville Perkins, James D. Smillie and other important American artists of the 19th century. This volume contains works on Yellowstone, Yosemite, Richmond, Savannah, Charleston, Watkins Glen, Mackinac, the California Coast, the Golden Gate, and the terrific steel engraved frontispiece of Niagara Falls. Volume II contains 25 steel engraved views and hundreds of wood engravings, many full-page including works by Harry Fenn, Granville Perkins, A.C. Warren, F.O.C. Darley and others. Volume II contains New York City, the Mammoth Cave, the Northwest, Chicago, Milwaukee, the Canons of the Colorado, the Rocky Mountains, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Susquehanna, Boston, and much more. The great "New York, from Brooklyn Heights" is the steel engraved frontispiece. Volume I is in full presentation binding in full leather with fancy tooling and embossing with gilt, raised bands on spine. Volume II is in quarter red leather with gilt tooling and titling on spine, and maroon cloth-covered boards. Front covers of both volumes are stamped with gilt title and stylized artist's palette. All edges gilt (A.E.G.) on both volumes as well. Both volumes are complete. Volume I - 568 pp., Volume II - 576 pp.


Condition: B+

Condition grade is for the engravings. The vast majority of the engravings have sharp impressions and are on clean, bright sheets with some occasional foxing in the far margins. A few plates have light to moderate foxing, particularly at the front and back of the volumes. The engraving of Niagara and the frontispiece to Volume I have heavy foxing. The text is lightly toned and the binding is tight in both volumes. In Volume I, the front free-endpaper is beginning to detach and the covers and spine are heavily worn. In Volume II, there are damp stains along the edges of the text block affecting the last 75 pages, but the damp stains don't enter any of the images or printed text. Also in Volume II the front hinge is starting, the back cover is almost completely detached, the spine is well worn, and the covers are sunned and scuffed.

Estimate: $400 - $475

Sold for: $550

Closed on 2/10/2021