The Peabody Set of The North American Indian
For your consideration is an original set of The North American Indian, Edward S. Curtis’ 20 volume magnum opus. Numbered 76, the original subscriber to this set was the Peabody Institute of Baltimore Maryland. The set was sold by Sotheby’s in 1989 to benefit the George Peabody Library of John Hopkins University. The set was subsequently broken apart, meaning that all of the photogravure images were carefully removed from the volumes and sold individually. This was a somewhat common practice in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s when complete sets could be purchased relatively inexpensively. Although the images have been removed from this set of books, all of the original text pages and original bindings remain intact, making this a stunning visual and conversational addition to a collector’s or enthusiast’s library.
Published between 1907 and 1930, Volumes I-XX contain over 3000 pages of unique and invaluable anthropological information, as well as extensive transcriptions of native languages, sacred music, and mythologies. Each page is hand letterpress printed on Holland Van Gelder paper and each volume hand bound. Still containing many pages that are typically removed, Volume I includes President Theodore Roosevelt’s forward and Curtis’ introduction, which is signed by Curtis in black ink. Also present is the Custer Battlefield, foldout map in Volume III, and 3 additional maps and 2 illustrations throughout the volumes. And the title page for each of the volumes are also present.
To supplement this original set of books, we are also including our Reference Edition Republication set of The North American Indian. The Reference Edition recreates with exacting detail the information contained in the original set of books and includes all 2,234 photographs. Having access to the photographs will give a collector a full sense of one of the most comprehensive ethnographic records of the native tribes of North America. According to author and critic A.D. Coleman, Curtis’ set of books are “an absolutely unmatched masterpiece of visual anthropology, and one of the most thorough, extensive, and profound photographic works of all time” (Sacred Legacy: Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indian, ed. Christopher Cardozo, NY, 2000, p. 25).
The physical condition of the set, both the interior and exterior, is in very good condition overall. The original bindings are tight with typical scuffs and minor wear to the leather and buckram. The gilt lettering and details remain warm and lustrous. And the top-edge gilding is intact, with typical, scattered nicks and abrasions. The interior pages are crisp and bright. Overall, a fine example of an original set of The North American Indian books.
Peabody Institute, Baltimore, MD 1909
The George Peabody Library
Private Collector(s) 1989
Christopher G. Cardozo Collection, ca.1991
The North American Indian – Peabody Institute Set
CURTIS, Edward S. (1868-1952), The North American Indian being a Series of Volumes Describing the Indians of the United States and Alaska. Edited by Fredrick Webb Hodge. Foreword by Theodore Roosevelt. Field Research conducted under the patronage of J. Pierpont Morgan. [Cambridge, Mass.], 1907-1930.
Text, Quarto (313 x 239 mm): In publisher’s original brown half morocco gilt and buckram, top edges gilt, others uncut, early volumes stamp-signed by “H. Blackwell”. Each numbered 76 in ink on the verso of the half-title page.