Maximilian & Bodmer Atlas, 1842-43

Value (2012) | $35,000 Auction$55,000 Auction

I see you've brought in a big English book. It's titled Maximilian's Travels in North America-- Plates. Unfortunately, your copy is a bit of a wreck. It's had a rough life. You have one of the most famous plates, 28, which is a fragment only. The title page is also a fragment. The author's name was Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied, and Maximilian was a prince in what is now Germany, but this is before the unification of Germany. Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied came to the States traveling up the Missouri, and he recorded with artists... the artist principally is Karl Bodmer. Karl Bodmer recorded instances of Native American life. I've counted the list of plates, and you should have 81. There are only 79 in all, without these fragments, okay? The book was very expensive to produce, and it comprises prints that were originally uncolored, or maybe tinted, aquatints, and they were then in most cases colored by hand. The book was published simultaneously in Koblenz, London and Paris in 1839 through 1841. This list of plates and its binding show that it's clearly the English edition, which was published by an engraving firm and publishing company called Ackermann. Here we have a typical illustration of a Sioux warrior. And then you have a Dakota woman. And here's a landscape one. They did them in smaller format. And this shows Fort Union. And here's a further dramatic one towards the end of a bear feasting on buffalo bones. Can you tell me how you acquired this book?

My great-great-uncle was either a merchant marine or a fisherman along New York, and found this floating in a crate as he was out working.

They found a crate floating?

Found a crate floating in the ocean, and the book was in the crate. Although there's evidence of damp, there's not any evidence of it being soaked. The book in complete full color, it's been known to bring reaching towards half a million dollars. This copy has not got the full color, which immediately brings it down a huge notch. It's also got significant damages, as we've seen. A conservative auction estimate would probably be $35,000 to $55,000.

Wow. That's wonderful.

Appraisal Details

Bloomsbury Auctions
London, England
Appraised value (2012)
$35,000 Auction$55,000 Auction
Rapid City, SD (July 14, 2012)
19th Century

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