"CRUSADING FOR TRUTH IN WRITING ABOUT THE AMERICAN PAST": FIRST EDITION OF DAWSON'S MASSIVE TWO-VOLUME BATTLES OF THE UNITED STATES BY SEA & LAND, 1858, WITH 41 ENGRAVED PLATES, IN PUBLISHER'S ORIGINAL FULL MOROCCO GILT
DAWSON, Henry B. Battles of the United States by Sea and Land: Embracing those of the Revolutionary and Indian Wars, the War of 1812, and the Mexican War; with Important Official Documents. New York: Johnson, Fry, (1858). Two volumes. Tall octavo, original full gilt- and blind-stamped brown morocco, raised bands, later marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. $2500.
First edition of the influential 19th-century historian's richly illustrated two-volume history, featuring 41 steel-engraved plates from paintings by Alonzo Chappel of battle scenes, military leaders and ships from the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and much more, including engraved frontispieces and vignette title pages, an exceptional copy in publisher's full morocco gilt.
Nineteenth-century historian Henry Barton Dawson, who emigrated from England with his family as a youth, "was a skeptic crusading for truth in writing about the American past and… the embodiment of the critical spirit among historians. For ten years he edited the pioneer American history journal, Historical Magazine" and continues to be cited as a historical source today (Tassel, in William & Mary Quarterly V.13: No.3, 319). His influential Battles of the United States is profusely illustrated with steel-engraved plates from paintings by artist Alonzo Chappel. When Chappel, who was introduced to New York publisher Henry Johnson in the 1850s, found his talents uniquely suited to historical illustration, "he spent the rest of his career creating illustrations to be engraved for books on American history published by the Johnson firm. Among these were Dawson's Battles of the United States… Chappel painted both portraits and historical events, and his pictures reveal the results of painstaking research. He did not rely solely on the books he was illustrating to provide information on the subject at hand; he consulted other sources as well in order to ensure that his depictions were as accurate as possible" (ANB). With 41 steel-engraved plates including frontispieces and vignette title pages. Sabin 18931.
Text and plates very fresh with trace of scattered foxing, bright gilt-stamped publisher's morocco with expert repairs to joints. A highly desirable about-fine copy.