Early Days: Private and Government Sponsored Exploration
The Robert S. and Margaret A. Ames Collection of Illustrated Books
TRAVELS THROUGH THE STATES OF NORTH AMERICA AND THE PROVINCES OF UPPER AND LOWER CANADA DURING THE YEARS 1795, 1796, AND 1797.
London: John Stockdale, 1799.
Drawings by Weld; engravings by T. Storer, J. B. Drayton et al.
A member of the Irish gentry, Isaac Weld traveled to North America as a young man in search of adventure. Accompanied by a servant, he visited the settled eastern seaboard and explored the more rugged hinterland of both the United States and Canada. Often using Indian guides, Weld journeyed on foot and by canoe for a two-year period, taking notes and producing sketches which would serve as the basis for his Travels, one of the earliest illustrated amateur travel accounts to be devoted to North America. Although he expressed upon his return to Ireland not even "the slightest wish to revisit" America, he quickly published an account of his adventures which proved very popular, going through several editions in English and translations into French, German, Italian and Dutch. The Ames copy is the first edition, opened to the plate depicting the Horseshoe Falls at Niagara.
Weld was an active member of the Irish intelligentsia for the remainder of his life, being elected a member of the Royal Dublin Society the year following the publication of his Travels. Among his later accomplishments were a topographical study, Illustrations of the Scenery of Killarney and the Surrounding Country, the invention of a boat made of compressed paper, and various efforts to improve Irish industry.
| ROBERT SUTCLIFF
TRAVELS IN SOME PARTS OF NORTH AMERICA IN THE YEARS 1804, 1805 AND 1806.
York: W. Hargrove for W. Alexander & Co., 1815.
Drawings by Sutcliff; engraver unknown.
Sutcliff, a Quaker, was a native of Sheffield, England, where he was a merchant. His business required two voyages to the United States and during the second he kept a journal and made several drawings. He had no intention of publishing the account of his travels but was persuaded by friends that his observations might prove instructive to young people. Perhaps impressed by Pennsylvania Quakers, Sutcliff and his family emigrated to Philadelphia in 1811, despite the fact that England and the United States were again at war. Sutcliff died within a year of his arrival, having contracted a fever while assisting in fighting a fire.
"American Friends going to Meeting in Summer."
The Travels was first published, also in York, in
1811, and contained all six plates that are present in the second edition.
Horse Shoe Falls & Table Rock, Niagara
VISIT TO THE FALLS OF NIAGARA, IN 1800.
London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown & Green, 1826.
Drawings by Maude; engravings by J. Cousen. Green full-leather binding possibly by Oliver Sumner of York.
A substantial number of books in the Ames Collection depict Niagara Falls, a particular favorite of the collectors who lived for a number of years in nearby Buffalo, New York. Both Weld and Sutcliffe contain illustrations and descriptions of Niagara, but Maude, an Englishman of independent means, focused his entire attention on an 1800 trip from New York City to the Falls and on into Canada. Like Sutcliffe, Maude had no intention of publishing the account of his expedition, but his fond recollections of Americans inspired him to have printed an edition of 250 copies of his journal. Three of the eight engravings made from Maude's drawings were of Niagara.
The Ames copy is additionally interesting for its inclusion of two added engraved portraits of Maude, his laid-in armorial bookplate, and a colored lithograph of Moor Park, his house in Yorkshire. Also laid in is a signed manuscript poem, in Maude's hand, dedicated to a young lady named Maria:
|"Ye Western Wilds which won my Noontide Hour
Which o'er my Heart usurpt a Mystic Power;
Go, teach Maria, Nature has a Charm
To sooth her Mind, and Shield her Soul from harm."
and CHARLES LUCIAN BONAPARTE
With the exception of Wilson's American
Ornithology, the Ames Collection contains no bird books; the
reason for its inclusion is that plate 26, the white-headed (bald) eagle,
is depicted perched above Niagara Falls, the Falls being of particular
interest to the Ameses.
The expanded American
Ornithology went through several editions including the "Philadelphia"
edition, of which the Ames Collection copy is an example. Drawings for the expanded
edition were produced by Titian Ramsay Peale and A. Rider. John James Audubon,
soon to become famous for his monumental Birds of America,
also collaborated on one plate. Thanks to the Ames gift of the "Philadelphia
Edition," the John Hay Library now owns all the important editions of Wilson's
American Ornithology, the earlier editions being included
in the Lownes Collection of Significant Books in the History of Science.
AND PAUL ALLEN
HISTORY OF THE EXPEDITION UNDER THE COMMAND OF CAPTAINS LEWIS AND CLARK, TO THE SOURCES OF THE MISSOURI, THENCE ACROSS THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS AND DOWN THE RIVER COLUMBIA TO THE PACIFIC OCEAN....
Philadelphia: Bradford and Inskeep, 1814.
Maps by Samuel Lewis from drawings by Capt. William Clark
Gift of Madeline L. Ames and Frank Mauran, Jr.
The first scientific expedition to explore the trans-Appalachian American continent was that of Lewis and Clark, 1804-1806. The Ames Collection does not include a copy of Lewis and Clark's Account for the simple reason that, except for maps, it was not illustrated, although it was intended to be. The fact that the John Hay owns a copy of the History is but one indication of how well the Ames Collection complements existing library holdings.
The purpose of the expedition, to gather information that would aid in the settlement of the western reaches of the continent, is a well-known story while the publication history of the expedition account is a less familiar, though equally fascinating, tale. Soon after his return from the West, Meriwether Lewis was in Philadelphia making plans for the publication of a three-volume history of the expedition; having contracted with a printer/publisher, he was in discussions with several artists, including Charles Wilson Peale, Alexander Wilson, and C.B.J. Fevret de Saint-Memin, in the expectation that some, or all, would contribute illustrations.
At this point, Lewis discovered that others who had served on the expedition were attempting to cash in on their experiences by publishing their own, unauthorized, accounts. The first of these accounts, by Patrick Gass, was of little practical or scientific value but it does possess the minor distinction of being the first published account of the Lewis and Clark expedition (the John Hay Library owns copies of Gass' account, both in English and in the rare French edition of 1810).
Publication of the official account was delayed as a result of Lewis' appointment as governor of Louisiana and, soon thereafter, his suicide (or possible murder--the cause of death has never been completely resolved). Ultimately, Lewis' journal of the expedition was sent to President Madison who requested William Clark, Lewis' expedition partner, to complete publication arrangements, but Clark turned the task over to Nicholas Biddle, the wealthy Philadelphia litterateur who would later gain renown as a nationally important financier. With the assistance of Paul Allen, the History as published is essentially Biddle's work.
Publication of the History
was delayed yet again because of the War of 1812 and the collapse of the publisher,
A. and C. Conrad. These factors also prevented the book being illustrated, although
it does include a series of well-done maps. The lack of illustrations and the
long delays in publication caused the History to sell
poorly with only 2000 copies of the first edition being printed, among them
the copy at the John Hay Library.
ACCOUNT OF AN EXPEDITION FROM PITTSBURGH TO THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS, PERFORMED IN THE YEARS 1819 AND '20
Philadelphia: H. C. Carey and I. Lea, 1823.
Drawings by Samuel Seymour and Titian Ramsay Peale; engravings by C. G. Childs, Francis Kearney, Young and Delleker, William Hay, and Alexander Lawson.
Rare Book Collection
Botanist and geologist Edwin James compiled the account of the expedition of Stephen H. Long, sent out by Secretary of War John C. Calhoun to explore and occupy the western territories while driving out British fur traders and subduing the Indians. The importance of the Long expedition to this exhibit lies in the fact it was the first American expedition to include artists.
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