Synopses & Reviews
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. Performed During the Years 1804-5-6. By the Order of the Government of the United States. Prepared for the Press by Paul Allen, Esquire.
Philadelphia: J. Maxwell for Bradford and Inskeep, and Abm H. Inskeep, 1814.
Two volumes octavo (228 x 149 mm) pp. xxviii, 470; pp. ix, (1), 522. Large folding engraved map (70 x 30.2 cm). Folding map lightly foxed with a tear repair (6mm) in crease located in east Mississippi. Map was drawn by Samuel Lewis from Clark's original and engraved by Samuel Harrison (1789-1818) who may also be the engraver of the plates.
5 engraved plates, foxed: "Fortification" facing p. 63, Vol.1; "Falls & Portage" facing p.261, Vol.1; "Great Falls of Columbia River" facing p.31, Vol.2; "Great Shoot or Rapid" facing p.52, vol. 2; and "Mouth of Columbia River" facing p. 62, Vol. 2.
Some foxing and soiling throughout both volumes, some marginal worming in volume 1, filled in on a few leaves, marginal tape repair on Ee2 in Volume 2.
Original printed boards entirely uncut with the map as issued, rebacked. Boards rubbed and soiled. Handsomely housed in a morocco slipcase with a chemise for each volume.
Remarkable narrative of the most famous and significant American land expedition in history. 1,417 copies were printed in 1814. Approximately 23 copies remain extant with very few in private hands.
Nicholas Biddle transformed the journal entries of Captains Lewis and Clark into an artful narrative. Biddle was the rare combination of genius coupled with financial solvency giving him the talent and the freedom to render the narrative highly readable and take no credit. Mr. Biddle chose Paul Allen to complete the publication process hence the name "Biddle Allen edition." The Journals (as they were originally written) were not published in their entirety until one hundred years after the expedition. That definitive edition was brought to press by Reuben Thwaites in 1904.
"This is our national epic of exploration, conceived by Thomas Jefferson, wrought out by Lewis and Clark, and given to the world by Nicholas Biddle." (Coues, History, I, v-vi.) Every aspect of this set is testament to the sheer determination of those involved. The turbulence of time has decimated the number of copies remaining. This set is, in every way, a remarkable piece of Americana. Wagner-Camp 13.1; Tweney 89: 44; Streeter Sale Vol. 3: 1777; Sabin 40820; Howes L317; Graff 2477.