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Review of Champ d’Asile in The Analectic Magazine in 1819 & the Earliest U.S. Print of the Precursor of the Bicycle

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104.     [CHAMP D’ASILE]. “Art. VII,—The Champ-d’Asile, or the French establishment on the Trinity River,” pp. 58-63 in The Analectic Magazine. Vol. 13 [engraved pictorial title]. Philadelphia: Published by M. Thomas. Johnsons Head No 52 Chesnut Street, 1819. [1] 2-526, [2, index] pp., 5 copper-engraved plates, including engraved title: [1] The Analectic Magazine…; [2] Front Elevation of the Bank of the U.S. Designed by W. Strickland, Archt.; [3] York Springs, Adams County, in Pennsylvania; [4] Thomas Gamble Esqr. (stipple engraving); [5] untitled landscape with two men riding velocipedes (based on a sketch by Charles Willson Peale). 8vo (22 x 13.6 cm), original grey boards, leather on spine and corners perished. Covers detached and boards stained. First few leaves detached and blank margins a bit rough and foxed, text and plates with uniform moderate browning, the velocipede plate fine, but trimmed close at top with no loss of image. Nineteenth-century engraved bookplate of the Library of the Incorporated German Society in Philadelphia (laid over an earlier book plate in German?).

     First edition. This volume includes issues for January-May 1819. This early American periodical evolved from a monthly magazine by the name of Select Reviews, which Philadelphia bookseller and publisher Moses Thomas purchased in 1812, renamed the publication The Analectic Magazine, and hired Washington Irving as editor. The illustrations were one of the distinctions of the magazine, and in fact, the first lithograph created in the United States appeared in its pages. The magazine offered literary reviews, articles on travel and science, biographies, and reprints of selections from British and European publications. See Mott, A History of American Magazines.

     One of the translations offered in the January issue is from the Paris journal La Minerve Française, one of the principal agitators and supporters of the Champ d’Asile colony in Texas on the Trinity River. By the time this translation had appeared, however, the colony had failed, a development noted with some satisfaction by the writer of the review, who vilifies the French settlers and the bad faith they showed to the United States after they were given a land grant in Alabama but preferred instead to settle in Texas. The reviewer remarks that the French settlers had even offered their fealty to Spain as a check on United States pretensions to Texas.

     Also of interest is an article illustrated by a plate in the May issue entitled “Art. XV.–The Velocipede or Draisena [From a London paper]” (pp. 517-519). The article ascribes the invention to Charles de Drais, and gives an enthusiastic review of the machine’s possibilities, even including instructions on how to ride it. The plate, however, is based on a drawing by Charles Willson Peale, the foremost artist in the United States at the time, who had one of the machines built for him by musical instrument maker J. Stewart. “The first American to test the velocipede was J. Stewart of Baltimore” (David V. Herlihy, Bicycle: The History, Yale University Press, 2004, p. 39). The plate is believed to be the earliest illustration of a bicycle in American literature. The velocipede quickly caught on and became the rage of Philadelphia. (On Champ d’Asile, see Item 107 herein.)


Sold. Hammer: $225.00; Price Realized: $270.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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