Chicago. 1869. ,-337,viii,iv pp. plus portrait frontispiece and fourteen plates (some colored). Original printed wrappers. Wrappers chipped, spine partially perished. Faint institutional stamp on front wrapper. Very good, with nice, clean plates. In a half morocco box. Item #WRCAM54227
One of the rarest American color plate books, and among the earliest ornithological representations from Alaska. Only fifty copies were thought to be printed, and it is estimated that half of that number perished in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The pertinent section is contained on pages 267- 337, comprising Dall and Bannister's LIST OF THE BIRDS OF ALASKA, WITH BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES, including S.F. Baird's descriptions of these new Alaskan species, entitled, ON ADDITIONS TO THE BIRD-FAUNA OF NORTH AMERICA, MADE BY THE SCIENTIFIC CORPS OF THE RUSSO-AMERICAN TELEGRAPH EXPEDITION on pages 311-325.
Most important are the eight color lithographs of Alaskan birds bound at the rear of the volume. The birds were drawn by noted ornithological artist Edwin Sheppard and engraved by J.T. Bowen & Co. of Philadelphia, the firm which had previously printed the octavo editions of John James Audubon's THE BIRDS OF AMERICA. The plates identify numerous species new to American ornithology, the names of which can be taken from Baird's descriptions, as follows:
1) Plate XXVII: Kennicott's Owl.
2) Plate XXVIII: Gray-eared Finch, Hepburn's Finch, and Spermophila badiiventris.
3) Plate XXIX: Cassin's Bullfinch and Bischoff's Song Sparrow.
4) Plate XXX: Yellow Wagtail, Kennicott's Warbler, and Alaska Wren.
5) Plate XXXI: Sterna aleutica and Cassin's Auk.
6) Plate XXXII: Limosa uropygialis.
7) Plate XXXIII: Crested Cormorant.
8) Plate XXXIV: Slender-billed Petrel and Rodgers' Fulmar Petrel.
By 1923, this work was already "one of the rarest American bird books," according to an Anderson Galleries catalogue from that year, which also described the plates as "very fine, and most of them, contributed by the munificence of individual citizens of Chicago of that time, bear the names of the donors."
Also contains Robert Kennicott's journal on pages 133-226. "Kennicott...made a trip to the Red River country in 1857 and two years later went to British and Arctic America for the Smithsonian Institution as far as Fort Yukon. In 1865 he surveyed a route for a telegraph line for Western Union in Alaska and on the Yukon River. He died at Fort Nulato, Alaska, in 1866" - Graff.
A work of supreme interest for the Alaskan collector. NISSEN 218. SITWELL 89. HOWES C375, "b." CHICAGO ANTE-FIRE IMPRINTS 1518. GRAFF 681.