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Simpson’s Early Survey of Navajo, Zuni & Pueblo Lands

Historic lithos after art work by Richard & Edward Kern


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440.     [NEW MEXICO]. UNITED STATES. WAR DEPARTMENT. JOHNSTON, Joseph E[ggleston], et al. Reports of Secretary of War, with Reconnaissances of Routes from San Antonio to El Paso, by Brevet Lt. Col. J.E. Johnston; Lieutenant W.F. Smith; Lieutenant F.T. Bryan; Lieutenant N.H. Michler; and Captain S.G. French, of Q’rmaster’s Dep’t. Also, the Report of Capt. R.B. Marcy’s Route from Fort Smith to Santa Fe; and the Report of Lieut. J[ames] H[ervey] Simpson of an Expedition into the Navajo Country; and the Report of Lieutenant W.H.C. Whiting’s Reconnaissance of the Western Frontier of Texas. July 24, 1850. Ordered to be printed…. Washington: Printed at the Union Office, 1850 (31st Congress, 1st session, Senate Ex. Doc. 64). [1-2] 3-250 pp., one lithograph map (lacking second map at end, Reconnaissances of Routes…), 72 lithograph plates after the art work of Richard and Edward Kern (many colored or tinted, some folding; plates 2, 21, and 39 never issued). 8vo (23.2 x 15 cm), original dark brown blind-stamped cloth, spine gilt lettered. Binding worn (spine ends chipped, corners and edges have some board exposed, lower joint partially split), mild uniform browning and a bit of light foxing to text, overall good condition, complete set of plates in overall fine condition. The Dorothy Josey copy, with her book plate on front pastedown, along with 1890 ink ownership inscription of Fred H. Swan.


Map of the Route Pursued in 1849 by the U.S. Troops, under the Command of Bvt. Lieut. Col. Jno. M. Washington, Governor of New Mexico, in an Expedition against the Navajo Indians, by James H. Simpson, 1st. Lieut. T. Engrs. assisted by Mr. Edw. M. Kern. Constructed under the general orders of Col. J.J. Abert Chief Topl.Engrs. Drawn by Edward M. Kern Santa Fe N.M. 1849 [scale] P.S. Duval’s Steam Lith. Press Philada. Lithograph map with route of pursuit in red. Neat line to neat line: 51.6 x 70 cm. Covers the upper Rio Grande Valley in northeastern New Mexico and adjacent parts of Arizona, Colorado, and Utah. Shows route of the troops, their camps and pueblos, augmented by notes describing conditions along the trail and table of distances. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West #641 & III, pp. 16-17, illustrated opposite p. 9: “An arresting production bringing out many new details of the region directly west of New Mexico.” Old cello tape repair at far left where map is attached to book block, slight darkening at folds, otherwise fine.

     First edition, and first appearance in print of Simpson’s report on New Mexico, which was separately issued in 1852 (Plains & Rockies IV:218). The first separate edition of Simpson’s report in 1852 contains only the map present here. Alliot, p. l19. Basic Texas Books 111: “Led to the opening of West Texas to travel and settlement…. These routes remained for years the main lines of communication for soldier, settler, and gold seeker alike.” Bennett, American Nineteenth-Century Color Plate Books, pp. 63 & 98. Field 1413n. Garrett, Mexican-American War, pp. 298-299. Graff 2228 (see also 3789). Howes J170 (see also S498). Laird, Hopi Bibliography 2407: “The expedition did not reach the Hopi, stopping at the western end of Canyon de Chelly, but it was contacted by several Hopi men, one of whom was painted and appears as Plate number 51. Included in appendix B are about forty Hopi words with English meanings.” Meisel III, p. 113. Palau 314388 (citing the 1852 Simpson report). Pilling 3608n (comparative vocabulary of Pueblo linguistic groups in New Mexico). Plains & Rockies IV:184. Rader 2924. Raines, p. 128. Sabin 36377. Saunders 3152n. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West #641 & Vol. III, pp. 16-17.

     The significant contributions found in this valuable compendium of U.S. government reports following the Mexican-American War are too numerous to describe in full. See William H. Goetzmann’s Army Exploration in the American West (Chapter 6, “Exploring the New Domain”). This report and survey was important for West Texas and New Mexico in facilitating travel, emigration, military pursuits, and Forty-Niners. The Simpson report within the larger report is one of the first thorough surveys in New Mexico. The archaeological results of Simpson’s report are best assessed by William H. Goetzmann as “the major archaeological endeavor undertaken in the Southwest before the days of William Henry Jackson and W.H. Holmes. No serious student of these sites can afford to neglect Simpson’s pioneer report even in the present day” (p. 327, Exploration and Empire, New York: Knopf, 1966). Complementing Simpson’s text are the many handsome plates, as well as the map in this book.

     James Hervey Simpson (1813-1883; see Thrapp, Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography, III, pp. 1311-1312) served with the Topographical Corps of Engineers for the Department of New Mexico when ordered to join an expedition to the Navajo country in 1849. He was sensitive to Native Americans and was a signer to the peace treaty concluded with the Navaho during this expedition. Simpson’s work, discoveries, and documentation in this report are foundational for the archaeology and ethnology of that region. Simpson was the first Anglo to describe Chaco Canyon, Canyon de Chelly, Pueblo Bonito, Inscription Rock, and the first to provide full illustration of the Zuni and Pueblo peoples. Goetzmann refers to Simpson as the “first American to make an accurate eyewitness survey of the region west of the Rio Grande past the Puerco and to penetrate the northern canyons” and states that “no work on these pueblos is complete without references to Simpson’s researches” (p. 244).

     The plates in the Simpson report were made from the original art work of Richard Hovendon Kern (1821-1853) and his brother Edward Meyer Kern (1823-1863). The Kern brothers were significant topographers and artists on several westward expeditions, including Frémont’s third and fourth, in addition to other ventures. Edward after accompanying John Pope across the plains in 1851 spent much of the rest of his life on other exploring expeditions to various parts of the world, including Japan and the Pacific. Richard, who served at same time as his brother, generally participated in western expeditions, such as Gunnison’s railroad survey. He, Gunnison, and five others were killed by Native Americans in western Utah. Goetzmann & Goetzmann in The West of the Imagination state that “Richard Kern was the first to paint the spectacular wonders of Canyon de Chelly [Plate 53 in the book]. On September 8, 1849, he painted the ruins of an Anasazi cliff house tucked away beneath a massive overhanging cliff. It was a major iconic view of the mysterious vanished civilization of the southwest and the scene was copied many times” (p. 105). Two other plates illustrate Canyon de Chelly (Plates 48 and 55).

     Schwartz & Ehrenberg remark of the plates: “Among the earliest chromolithographs to appear in a government report” (p. 279). The plates were lithographed by the P.S. Duval firm. Duval is generally credited with establishing the printing of genuine chromolithographs in the U.S., which he developed in the early 1850s. As time passed, his lithographs became more sophisticated and were highly praised for their quality. Peter C. Marzio in The Democratic Art: Chromolithography 1840-1900, gives a good overview of the history of the Duval firm (pp. 23-29), and comments on the original of the term chromolithograph: “Duval, a French-born Philadelphia lithographer, was putting [the term chromo] on his prints by 1852” (p. 11).


Sold. Hammer: $500.00; Price Realized: $600.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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