Richmond [but actually Dresden & Berlin]: Edward Beyer [but printed by Rau & Son of Dresden and W. Loeillot of Berlin], 1858. Lithograph titlepage (with five vignettes) plus forty tinted lithograph plates. Oblong folio. Original gilt cloth boards bound in larger modern three-quarter morocco and cloth. Titlepage lightly soiled and edgeworn. A few plates with closed marginal tears, expertly repaired; titlepage and each plate expertly backed by archival tissue. The plates very clean and free of the foxing usually found with this title. [with:] [Beyer, Edward]: DESCRIPTION OF THE ALBUM OF VIRGINIA: OR THE OLD DOMINION, ILLUSTRATED. Vol. I [all published]. Richmond: Enquirer Book and Job Printing Office, 1857. pp. Original half calf and cloth boards, gilt title on front board. Text volume very clean internally. Overall a very good, handsome copy of a book very difficult to find in clean condition, here with the scarce accompanying text volume. Both volumes in a folding cloth box. Item #WRCAM38869
The Beyer album is one of the foremost American view books created in the 19th century. "This is a major outstanding item, the rarity of which is by no means fully appreciated" - Bennett.
Edward Beyer was a German artist who visited the United States in the early 1850s. He chose to concentrate his work on Virginia and Kentucky, spending three years in Virginia working on the original drawings for this book. Although the titlepage asserts Richmond was the place of printing, the book was actually produced in Germany, with the plates being prepared in Dresden and the letterpress in Berlin. The superb tinted lithograph views include beautiful natural scenes, Harpers Ferry, White Sulphur Springs, railroad bridges and tunnels (e.g. Highbridge near Farmville), views in Weyer's Cave, and scenes at many of the fashionable resorts which were nestled amid the mountains of Southwest Virginia.
"He was taken by the beauty of the Virginia landscape, particularly by the elegant settings of some of the region's watering places...Virginians responded warmly to Beyer's enterprise and often gave him advance access to architectural plans when these could be of help to him. There was probably no Virginia county that Beyer left unvisited in his zeal to present what is, in fact, an affectionate family album of an entire state" - Deák. Deák praises Beyer's "delicate and precise style" and "characteristic refinement of proportion." It is one of the foremost works of American scenery.
This copy of Beyer is notable for being accompanied by the small volume of explanatory text, separately published in Richmond in 1857. This volume is quite rare and almost never found with the album. HOWES B413, "b." SABIN 5125. BENNETT, p.10. DEÁK, PICTURING AMERICA 721.