The Robert S. and Margaret A. Ames Collection of Illustrated Books

Early Days: Private and Government Sponsored Exploration
in the Early National Period

The earlier books in the Ames Collection are illustrated by engravings in metal or wood. Even after lithography made its appearance in the United States in the 1820s, both woodcuts and the wide variety of engraving techniques remained popular with many books exhibiting all three techniques.

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ISAAC WELD, JUNIOR

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.

Ames Collection



"View of the Horse-Shoe Falls of Niagara"

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.

Ames Collection


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 Ames copy of Sutcliff's Travels is a second English edition with six plates which complements Brown's copy of the first American edition (Philadelphia, 1812) which contains only one plate, Niagara Falls. The plate shown is described in the text thus: "The open carriages described in this plate, are called waggons, and the best of them Jersey waggons. They are made very light, hung on springs with leather braces, and travel very pleasantly. They are covered at the top with canvas painted. On the sides, there are three rows of curtains, and those in the outer row are likewise painted. Those of the middle row are made of linen, and the inside curtains are green baize. The season and weather regulate the use of them".

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

JOHN MAUDE

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.

Ames Collection

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."

 

          

ALEXANDER WILSON and CHARLES LUCIAN BONAPARTE

AMERICAN ORNITHOLOGY; OR THE NATURAL HISTORY OF THE BIRDS OF THE UNITED STATES.

Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1871?

Drawings by Wilson; engravings by Alexander Lawson, J. G. Warnicke and G. Murray, hand-colored.

Ames Collection


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.

First published in parts between 1808 and 1814, Wilson's Ornithology was the first American bird book with colored plates to be printed in the U.S. Wilson died before the work was completed and his friend George Ord finished the task; Ord also brought out two later editions during the 1820s. Charles Lucian Bonaparte, nephew of Napoleon I and a well-known scientist, expanded American Ornithology while resident at his exiled uncle Joseph's estate in New Jersey during the late 1820s and early 1830s.


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.



White Headed Eagle at Niagara Falls

          

[ALEXANDER WILSON]

THE FORESTERS: A POEM, DESCRIPTIVE OF A PEDESTRIAN JOURNEY TO THE FALLS OF NIAGARA, IN THE AUTUMN OF 1804.


Newtown, Pa.: S. Siegfried & J. Wilson, 1818.

Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays


Wilson, a native of Scotland, emigrated to America in 1794, where he supported himself as a school teacher in the Philadelphia area. Greatly impressed by the natural beauty of his new home, he began to develop the ideas that would result in his American Ornithology. Befriended and encouraged by the renowned naturalist John Bartram, Wilson was soon at work collecting specimens, drawing their likenesses, and writing the text for his magnum opus. He seldom traveled far from Philadelphia, a notable exception being his trek to Niagara Falls in 1804. Not only was the expedition commemorated by the plate of the bald eagle perched above the Falls, the entire trip was described by Wilson in a lengthy poem, The Foresters, first published posthumously in 1818.


          



Great Falls of the Columbia River
[NICHOLAS BIDDLE] 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.

          


"Indian record of a battle between the Pawnees and Konzas delineated on a bison robe."
EDWIN JAMES

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.


Samuel Seymour and Titian Ramsey Peale, of the famous family of artists, produced well over 200 sketches although only 8 were included in the published atlas that accompanied the text. Despite its modest appearance, the atlas of the Long expedition was much admired and served as the progenitor for the array of richly illustrated government-sponsored expeditions to the west that would begin to appear some twenty years later.

          


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