This historic folio, Native American lithograph is from Thomas L. McKenney & James Halls History of the Indian Tribes of North America, with Biographical Sketches and Anecdotes of the Principal Chiefs. Embellished with One Hundred Portraits from the Indian Gallery in the War Department at Washington. The work was published in Philadelphia by Caxton Press of Sherman & Co. for D. Rice & Co. between 1872 and 1874. This is the last folio edition of one of the most important 19th-century works on the American Indian, and one of the most important colour plate books produced in America in the age of lithography.
The publication of the folio works was complicated. The first edition was published by Biddle from 1836 to 1844. It was reissued by Greenough and Rice. It used a number of different printers and lithographers. This edition removed James Hall’s name from the title page as well. Many plates do not have a publisher’s credit line, as Christopher W. Lane states that ‘there was no single date at which these no-imprint variants were run off.’ So many of the plates in this work were likely published from 1830s onwards but published in the 1872 work. This particular publication put the text in octavo volumes so most of the plates do not have the standard text offset you typically see making them a far cleaner, and nicer presentation of the images.
An admirer and supporter of the American Indians, Thomas McKenney spent his tenure in office fighting for their cause and preserving their legacy through a gallery of paintings that were commissioned by various artists. Unfortunately, the original paintings burned in a fire, and all that is left to remember these Indians are the lithographs found in History which were modeled off the paintings.
The original paintings the lithographs were based on work by Karl Bodmer, Charles Bird King, James Otto Lewis, P. Rhindesbacher and R.M. Sully. They were drawn on stone by A. Newsam, A.Hoffy, Ralph Tremblay, Henry Dacre and others, printed and coloured by J.T. Bowen and others. The work was renowned for its faithful portraits of Native Americans.
Thomas McKenney was the Superintendent of Indian Trade. He was vocal about his worry for their future and was appointed by Monroe to the Office of Indian Affairs. His journeys as director provided an unparalleled opportunity to become acquainted with Native American tribes. When President Jackson dismissed him from his government post in 1830, McKenney was able to turn more of his attention to his publishing project. Within a few years, he was joined by James Hall, a lawyer who had written extensively about the west. Both authors, not unlike George Catlin, whom they tried to enlist in their publishing enterprise, saw their book as a way of preserving an accurate visual record of a rapidly disappearing culture. (Gilreath)