NUTTALL, Thomas (1756-1859). A Journal of Travels into the Arkansas Territory, During the Year 1819. With Occasional Observations on the Manners of the Aborigines. Philadelphia: Thomas H. Palmer, 1821.

$ 2,500.00

8vo., (9 ¼ x 6 inches). (Lacking pp. 111-114 [ff. 14/4 and 15/1]; a bit browned throughout). Fine folding engraved map (short tear near mount; lower left margin cropped, not affecting image); 5 aquatint plates (occasional browning). Original publisher’s drab paper boards, untrimmed (rebacked).

First edition. One of the principal early travel narratives of the Arkansas-Mississippi region. Nuttall, a British-born, Philadelphia-based botanist and ornithologist, joined three major exploratory expeditions in order to further his knowledge of North American species. The Journal relates the second of these trips, carried out in 1818-20 in the company of Major Bradford, along the Arkansas and Red Rivers in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Indian Territory. The work is important for the accuracy of Nuttall’s scientific observations and for his attention to the culture of the native populations, notably the Chickasaw, Cherokee, and Osage tribes. Two appendices are devoted to the Native Americans: the first relates the encounters of Ferdinand de Soto in 1539-1543 with the (soon to be extinct) native populations of the Mississippi region; the second provides a history of the Natchez tribe. A third appendix contains meteorological data. The aquatint plates illustrating local landmarks are unusual for an American book: this graphic technique enjoyed only a brief vogue here in the 1820s, before being supplanted by lithography. Howes N299; Field 1145; Sabin 56348; Graff 3055; Wagner-Camp 20.