Catalog Archive
Auction 189, Lot 113

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

Subject: Canada & United States

Period: 1872-74 (published)


Color: Black & White

10 x 12.8 inches
25.4 x 32.5 cm
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"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.

This is a complete but unusual example of Picturesque America, wherein the plates have been re-ordered in a manner that does not correspond with the text, with several plates swapped between volumes. It is bound in personalized contemporary binding with the name "Amelia M. Neeb" on the covers, and the last 88 pages of Volume I are bound in with the second volume. 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 includes passages on Yellowstone, Yosemite, Richmond, Savannah, Charleston, Watkins Glen, Mackinac, the California Coast, and the Golden Gate. In this example, the terrific steel engraved frontispiece of Niagara Falls appears elsewhere, replaced by an engraving of the Florida coast. 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 features sections on 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" that typically serves as frontispiece appears later in the text. These matching volumes are in full leather with fancy tooling and embossing with gilt, raised bands on spine. The front cover is stamped with gilt name of "Amelia M. Neeb." All edges gilt (A.E.G.). Volume I - 568 pp., Volume II - 576 pp.


Condition: B+

Nearly all of the steel engraved views are in "A" condition with sharp impressions on bright sheets, with some light soiling almost entirely confined to the margins. Text is lightly toned with marginal soiling. Hinges are starting on both volumes, and the frontispiece in Volume I has become detached. Covers of both volumes are rubbed along the edges.

Estimate: $450 - $550

Sold for: $325

Closed on 9/14/2022