BARTRAM, John (1699-1777). Observations on the Inhabitants, Climate, Soil, Rivers,Productions, Animals, and other matters worthy of Notice. London: J. Whiston and B. White,1751.
BARTRAM, John (1699-1777). Observations on the Inhabitants, Climate, Soil, Rivers,Productions, Animals, and other matters worthy of Notice. in his travels from Pensilvaniato Onondago, Oswego and the lake Ontario, in Canada. London: J. Whiston and B. White,1751.
8vo. (7 ¼ x 4 ½ in.; 18.4 x 11.4 cm.). Fine folding engraved frontispiece of the town of Oswego;with early closed tear, a bit spotted. 19th-century tan calf, gilt; rebacked preserving the originalspine.
FIRST EDITION OF THIS IMPORTANT ACCOUNT OF AN EXPEDITION TO VISIT THECENTRAL COUNCIL FIRE OF THE SIX NATIONS. The frontispiece depicts a plan of theLong House, a structure specific to these tribes. "This is a very reliable work by two of the mosteminent observers and naturalists of their day. Bartram made this trip in 1743 with ConradWeiser, an agent of Pennsylvania, sent to hold a friendly conference with the Iroquois. Hisprincipal object in making the trip was to study the flora of the country. He was an expertbotanist, and acquired such a reputation that he attracted the attention of Linnæus. His bookthrows considerable light upon the manners and thoughts of the people with whom he came incontact" (Church). Church further notes that the inclusion of Kalm's account gives us the firstscientific description in English of Niagara Falls. There are some early marginalia of interest,including an endorsement of Bartram's character on the preface leaf. Supported by PeterCollinson, an English Quaker, and a successful merchant and member of the Royal Society withan interest in introducing foreign plants into England, who not only "provided financial supportfor Bartram's botanical explorations but also saw that other English naturalists learned of hisskills as a collector of specimens and seeds and even edited and submitted some of Bartram'sletters for publication in the "Philosophical Transactions" of the Royal Society. In 1735,Bartram's description of his dissection of a rattlesnake appeared in the "Letter Book" of theRoyal Society; this was his first publication. Collinson distributed the American plants hereceived from Bartram to Lord Petre, Sir Hans Sloane, the dukes of Argyll, Bedford, Norfolk,and Richmond, and other prominent English horticulturists and naturalists. The funds thatBartram received from these specimens allowed him to supplement his farm income and begin toplan more distant collecting trips. In 1736, Collinson developed a circle of English naturalistswho agreed to support through annual subscription Bartram's collecting endeavors. While theinitial focus was on botanical specimens, his patrons in England, and later those on theContinent, began to expand his collecting goals into most areas of American flora and fauna. Forfive guineas a box, Bartram diligently collected and shipped fossils, reptiles, insects, birds, andmammals to his subscribers. In 1743, he accompanied Conrad Weiser and Lewis Evans on anexpedition to Onondaga in New York with an additional natural history reconnaissance to FortOswego on Lake Ontario. Impressed by the details of this trip and the meticulous care withwhich he recorded what he observed, Collinson published Bartram's journal of this expedition in1751". (Phillip Drennon Thomas for ADNB). PROVENANCE: with an early bookplate partiallyremoved from the front free endpaper; with the bookplate of Cowen Bonawit on the frontpaste-down. Bookseller Inventory # 72lib606Price: $45,000.