LEWIS, JAMES OTTO An assembled family copy of The Aboriginal Port-Folio.
Philadelphia: 1835-36; New York: 1853; assembled circa 1902 in a binding of three-quarters red morocco, the upper cover gilt stamped "Aboriginal Port-Folio/James O. Lewis." The contents comprising a manuscript title page in color listing the three 19th century editions of the book (1836/1840/1853); the title page, several text leaves and two hand-colored lithographed plates from the 1853-1856 New York edition published by N. Currier; approximately fifty-five hand-colored lithographed plates from the 1835-36 Philadelphia first edition published by Lehman & Duval; an original oil painting Indian Squaw with her Papoose by G. Albert Lewis, circa 1844 inlaid at front and measuring 10 x 6 3/4 inches; and two manuscript leaves in the hand of G. Albert Lewis, the first a letter dated 1902 explaining the oil painting present here and the second a manuscript biography of James Otto Lewis. In total there are 57 hand-colored lithographed plates mounted on stubs, each measuring approximately 15 x 10 7/8 inches (38.5 x 28 cm). The cover sunned, the spine dried and scuffed and with a detached portion present, the hinges strengthened. The the title, text and first print from the 1853 edition trimmed and inlaid to larger sheets, the second print from this edition laid-in, both are trimmed close to image and somewhat worn. Most plates generally clean but with some spotting and occasional marks, a few worn and one with a marginal repair, some trimmed close with loss of imprint, a few strengthened on the verso, some show-through of adhesive from mounting.
Provenance: By descent in the family of James Otto Lewis' brother John Frederick Lewis (1791-1858), both the sons of Hessian soldier Johann Andreas Philipp Ludwig who had come to America in 1777. Later in the 19th century the book descended to George Albert Lewis, compiler of the volume, and ultimately from Frederick Lewis Allen to his son Oliver Ellsworth Allen.
A large group of rare first edition plates within a family copy of Lewis' seminal Aboriginal Port-Folio, the "first attempt made in the United States at a large scale work devoted to the American Indian" (Reese). James Otto Lewis' travelled with Lewis Cass, the longtime territorial governor of Michigan, on a tour of the region from 1825-27 and was present with Cass at the signing of the Treaty of Prairie du Chien, the Treaty of Fond du Lac and others where the portraits of these Sioux, Sac, Fox, Chippewa and other Native American notables were painted on the spot. Lewis began publishing the work in 1835, promising 10 parts with 8 images each, but the work was not a financial success and most copies of the work present today do not contain the full complement of plates issued. Present here are about 55 plates from that edition, including the portrait Waa-Naa-Taa or Foremost in Battle and The Son, A Miami Chief as well as the elaborate multi-figured scenes of the View of the Butte des Morts Treaty Ground and the View of the Great Treaty held at Prairie du Chien. Lewis' portfolio is the pioneering work of a genre and was in production in the United States before those by of McKenney & Hall and George Catlin.
The present copy also contains the title, preface, and of the text descriptions which accompanied the six plates issued with the 1853 New York third American edition of the book, a notable rarity in itself as we trace no copy of this edition in the auction record (of the 1844 2nd edition we trace only two copies sold). Lastly, the original oil painting "Indian Squaw and her Papoose" mounted in the volume was painted in 1844 by G. Albert Lewis, nephew of James Otto Lewis, and in the letter Lewis reports that this painting was rolled up with the original plates given to him as a youth and was inserted "in this new bound volume, as a relic of childhood's days, and want of thought of the future value of such original pictures of these now fast perishing Indians of our country." Field 936; Howes L315; Reese 23; Sabin 40812.
C Estate of Oliver Allen
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