Reports of Explorations and Surveys to Ascertain the Most Practicable and Economical Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. Made Under the Direction of the Secretary of War in 1853-4.
War Department, United States Government
Epic, Historic Compilation of New Knowledge Presented in Text, Plates and Maps
First Edition, in mixed state Senate and House issues. One of the most massive compilations of exploration reports and scientific data ever published about the Trans-Mississippi West. Published by the Federal Government at the urging of Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, and the result of numerous reconnaissance surveys of exploring four major routes surveyed for the expanding Pacific Railroad. These reports represent the first attempt at a comprehensive, systematic geographical exploration of the Western regions of America, and made possible the first reasonably accurate topographical maps of the West. The plates, maps and tables depict scenery, native inhabitants, fossils, archeology, flora and fauna. Many of the plates include such famous early images as the View of the Los Angeles Pueblo, Fort Vancouver, Washington Territory are still considered some of the best early sources of information on the Pacific Northwest, the Puget Sound, and the tribes of the Washington Territory. Of the eleven official artists, the most prominent is the renowned John M. Stanley (1814-1872) most widely known for his portraits on Native Americans and their way of life. Warren's Map of the Territory of the United States from the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean (Vol XI) was considered by Howes the best cartographic al work on the west up to its time, and was used for 25 years following as the definitive reference. The collation of this epic survey is complicated and varies, but stated in Wagner- Camp "despite their flaws, these volumes contain a monumental collection of scientific information, geographical, zoological, botanical, geological of the still mysterious American West. Upon first examination, the volumes seem forbiddingly disorganized, however these faults are amply compensated by the richness of material within." Twelve Volumes bound in Thirteen. A spectacular set recently professionally rebound by Richard Smart, of Old English Bindery. Quarto's 11.5 inches in height by 9.75 inches in width, uniformly bound in half black calf over black/blue smooth weave cloth, simply a beautiful and stately presentation, spines with four raised bands with compartments framed in gilt windows, spine titles in gilt as well as volume Roman numerals , War Department stamped in gilt at the heel of each volume. Gilt rule on leather corner edges as well as seam where spine and cloth meet on boards. New paste downs and end papers. Interior is much cleaner than usually found with well struck plates, maps in superior condition, many never unfolded. Some light sporadic foxing, some pages toned as usual, a few ares of water stains on the bottom of some pages in Volume 5 but the reaming volumes are exceptionally free of typical wear. The volumes are ready for years of study and reflection.
This set consumes 33 inches of shelf space.
A.O.P. Nicholson Printer, Washington, D.C., 1885. First Edition.
A Fine addition to any collection