Washington DC: Department of the Interior, 1859. First edition. Single sheet matted in rag board. Original hand-colored lithograph. Quarto (9 x 11.25 inches, 288.6 x 285). Sizable in format, this fine and rare hand-colored lithograph by the JT Bowen & Company in Philadelphia, is from the Reports of the Birds of the Boundary by Spencer F. Baird, (1823-1887), Assistant Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. An astute ornithologist, who as a young naturalist studied painting with John James Audubon, Spencer F. Baird, became one of the most respected American naturalists of the 19th Century. During his tenure at the Smithsonian Institution from 1850-1878, Baird elevated the artistic integrity of the published Congressional Reports which documented the topographical and naturalists' surveys of the American West during the mid 19th Century, including the Pacific Railroad Surveys of 1853-1855. and the US and Mexican Boundary Survey. Although these Surveys are notorious for their disorganization of the plates and related text, a true collator's nightmare, the value of this 19th Century ornithological work is evidenced by the elegance of hand-colored plates of many species not previously documented or rendered. Under Baird's supervision, both the quality of the illustrations, and subsequent printing of these landmark images, were recognized as some of the finest naturalist work to be produced in America at the time. Baird chose the venerable firm of JT Bowen & Company in Philadelphia to produce these fine hand-colored lithographs. An important distinction, as the very same artists and lithographers to create this work were, at the time, producing the fine hand-colored plates for Audubon's monumental productions of both the Royal Octavo Editions and Imperial Folio Edition of the Birds of America and the Quadrupeds of North America. In addition, the birds from this US/ Mexican Boundary Survey are exceedingly rare, as only 1000 sets of this report were completed.
(Blum, Picturing Nature. (1993) Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. Sitwell & Buchanan, Fine Bird Books. (1990) New York, The Atlantic Monthly Press. Wood, Casey A., An Introduction to the Literature of Vertebrate Zoology. (1931) London: Oxford University Press. Fine with rich original hand-coloring. Item #7126