“AMERICAN ROCKS ARE, AND WILL BE THROUGH ALL AGES TO COME, MONUMENTS OF EXTREME INTEREST TO SCIENCE”: CATLIN’S SURVEY, WITH FINE COLOR MAP
CATLIN, George. The Lifted and Subsided Rocks of America with Their Influences on the Oceanic, Atmospheric, and Land Currents, and the Distribution of Races. London: Trübner, 1870. Octavo, original burgundy cloth. $850.
First edition of scarce and highly controversial survey of North and South American geology by famous North American Indian expert George Catlin proposing a radical explanation for the formation of the Americas, with large folding color map.
A young lawyer turned portraitist, Catlin set out for the West from his home in Pennsylvania in 1830 to record on canvas North American Indians and their way of life. His eight years among the major tribes of the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains resulted in his “Indian Gallery,” an enormous collection of artifacts as well as more than 400 paintings, including portraits and scenes of tribal life. However, during that time, Catlin did more than observe the Native Amerians. He also observed the land, crafting the underpinnings of this work about the origins of the Americas. Basing his work on what he saw rather than existing geological research, Catlin proposed radical explanations for geological formations and natural phenomena, particularly the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf Stream. For instance, Catlin argued that two subterranean streams of water were heated by volcanic fires and accounted for the Gulf Stream. It was a wholly original—and wholly incorrect—explanation. Though this work was condemned in scientific circles, it remains important for the light it sheds on Catlin’s crucially important activities during his travels among the Native Americans. Early owner signature on half title.
Small closed tear to map stub, a few small spots of foxing to text, wear and soiling to original cloth, a bit of toning to spine. A very good copy.