This rare, originally hand-colored folio engraving is from John Cassin’s United States Exploring Expedition. During the Years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842. Under the Command of Charles Wilkes, U.S.N. Atlas. Mammalogy and Ornithology. The work was published in 1858 in Philadelphia by the Authority of Congress and C. Sherman & Sons.
The engraving was part of the rare Atlas Volume. It featured illustrations of birds and mammals from T. R. Peale, W. E. Hitchcock, G. G. White, and E. Sheppard. The engravings were completed by Rawdon, Dougal, and other. Either due to budget or the Panic of 1857 only 100 copies of this volume were published. McGrath called the illustrations “Masterpieces of hand-colored engraving.” Also of particular interest in the work were the plates with Hawaiian content including Waialua Falls, Kauai and Kealakekua, Kona.
Wilke’s expedition explored the coast of South America, the South Seas, Antarctica, California and the Northwest, the Philippines and the East Indies. The expedition returned to the United States in 1842, “a thirty-year effort to publish its scientific results got under way. Titian Peale, a naturalist who had accompanied the expedition, published a volume in 1848 concerning the mammals and birds collected by Peale and others in the Pacific Ocean region. Unhappy with both Peale and his book, Wilkes suppressed it, and Cassin, one of several authorities who had been consulted about the matter, agreed, following several years of negotiations, to prepare a replacement volume. This Cassin accomplished, after requesting and receiving a salary of $2,000 per year over a period of five years, and his book “Mammalogy and Ornithology”, dealing with the findings of the expedition, was issued in 1858. In it, Cassin acknowledged his debt to Peale’s notes, observations, and drawings, many of which appeared in the text and in the atlas of engravings prepared to accompany the book” (Keir B. Sterling for ADNB).