COLDEN, Cadwallader David (1769-1834). Memoir Prepared at the Request of a Committee of the Common Council at the Celebration of the Completion of the New York Canals. New York: Printed by the Order of the Corporation of New York, 1825 [1826].

$ 5,800.00

4to., (9 6/8 x 7 6/8 inches). Lithographed title-page to the appendix, engraved frontispiece portrait of Colden and 43 engraved and lithographed plates, with an additional 8 facsimiles of testimonial letters (folding certification for Pilot Charitable Society torn lower right), and including portraits (one after George Catlin) and views (some folding) (some occasionally heavy offsetting and light spotting), 2 large folding hand-colored engraved maps (that of the U.S. opposite page 4 with a short tear crossing the image). A FINE CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN ORNATE, SIGNED PRESENTATION BINDING ordered by the City of New York of straight-grained bright crimson morocco gilt, covers with broad gilt-tooled borders, upper cover gilt-lettered "Presented by the City of New York to Miss Rachel Ann Robertson, Jany. 1st 1827," spine richly gilt in compartments, gilt-lettered in two, signed by binder "Wilson & Nichols Bind. N.Y." at base of spine, edges gilt (extremities lightly worn).

Provenance: Presentation binding to Miss Rachel Ann Robertson, and an original silk ribbon and two elaborate engraved tickets for Miss Robertson to the celebration, neatly laid in; Jay T. Snider, Jay T. Snider Collection of Historical Americana, his sale Christie's 21 June 2005, lot 143.


A spectacular and elaborate souvenir of the extravagant celebrations surrounding the official completion of the Erie Canal. Derided as "Clinton's Folly" when first proposed by Governor Dewitt Clinton (1769-1828) and voted by the state legislature, the Erie Canal "proved to be the key that unlocked an enormous series of social and economic changes in the young nation...spurred the first great westward movement of American settlers, gave access to the rich land and resources west of the Appalachians and made New York the preeminent commercial city in the United States." The work is one of the first books published in the U.S. to be extensively illustrated by lithography; an appendix pays tribute to "the most useful potentialities of Mr [Alois] Senefelder's great discovery." A few plates unfold to considerable extent, with panoramic views of New York Harbor crowded with shipping, a cross-section of the canal, locks, scenic views andornate fire-company pumpers drawn by horses. It is also distinguished as being the first book with illustrations by George Catlin. Miss Robertson executed the lithographic plate facing p.380 from "The Students of Colombia College," "by a young Lady"; a letter laid in acknowledges her contribution to the celebratory volume. Howes C-562. From the distinguished library of Jay T. Snider.