KALM, Peter (1716-1779). Travels into North America; Containing Its Natural History, and A circumstantial Account of its Plantations and Agriculture in general.... London: For T. Lowndes, 1772.
2 volumes. 8vo., (8 3/8 x 5 ½ inches). (Scattered offsetting of text). Fine folding engraved frontispiece “Map of Part of North America” in volume two (extended separation to one of the horizontal folds on the left side). Six engraved plates in volume one (slightly browned). Later brown calf, the spine in six compartments with five raised bands, gilt lettered in two (rebacked to style).
Provenance: Contemporary manuscript ownership inscription to title page: “Jenkins”; later manuscript ownership inscription to recto of first blank: “N. T. Lidden, Boston , 8 May 1886.”
Second English edition. First published in Sweden in three volumes in 1753, 1756, and 1761. “These volumes contain the most trustworthy description of Swedish settlements in.Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The voyage was undertaken at the instigation of Linnaeus, for the purpose of discovering whether any North American plants could be successfully introduced into Sweden” (Lande 482). “A work of high character, especially for its natural history, for which the author was immortalized by Linnaeus” (Sabin) who named the “Mountain-Laurel” Kalmia latifolia, the state flower of both Pennsylvania and Connecticut, for him. Before journeying to North America Kalm had travelled extensively not only in Sweden, but also in Russia and the Ukraine. In 1740 he entered Uppsala University to study with the celebrated Carolus Linnaeus. In 1747 he was appointed the first professor of natural history and economy at the Âbo Academy, a position that he would retain until his death. “Almost immediately, however, Kalm was given leave to undertake a scientific expedition to North America sponsored by the Swedish Academy of Sciences. He was specifically charged with finding a species of mulberry that could survive in Sweden and provide a basis for an independent silk industry. In addition, he was expected to collect other plants and seeds of plants that could perhaps be grown in Sweden. Having spent several months in England en route to North America, Kalm, accompanied by a gardener, Lars Jungström, landed in Philadelphia in September 1748. There he associated himself with Benjamin Franklin and two botanical correspondents of Linnaeus, John Bartram and Cadwallader Colden, both of whom were significant naturalists in their own right. In May 1749 Kalm embarked on a trip to New York, Albany, Lake Champlain, and Canada, seeking plants and seeds. After returning to Philadelphia in October, he again traveled to Canada in 1750. He provided one of the first descriptions of Niagara Falls in a letter to Franklin dated 2 September 1750, which was reprinted in Bartram’s ‘Travels in Pensilvania and Canada.’ Kalm resided for some time among the Swedish residents in Raccoon (now Swedesboro), New Jersey, and reported on the community’s history and customs. In 1750 he married one of the residents, Anna Margaretha Sjöman, the widow of a pastor.
“Kalm went back to Sweden in 1751, arriving in June. While he resumed his academic responsibilities, he tended to his American plants in his own garden in Âbo and prepared his American diary for publication. ‘En Resa til Norra America’ (1753-1761), published in English as ‘Travels into North America’ (1770-1771), is a wide-ranging account of the natural history, social conditions, politics, and history of colonial Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and southern Canada. It was also translated into Dutch, German, and French. Although Kalm was not the first to publish a descriptive account of travels in eastern North America, he was the first professional scientist to gather data in the field in a systematic manner and the first to publish an extensive, genuinely scientific report of his observations. As he said in his letter to Franklin concerning Niagara Falls, ‘You must excuse me if you find in my account no extravagant wonders. I cannot make nature otherwise than I find it. I would rather it should be said of me in time to come, that I related things as they were’” (Ralph L. Langenheim for ANB).