[BOUNDARY LINE]. UNITED STATES AND MEXICAN BOUNDARY COMMISSION. EMORY, William Hemsley. Report of the United States and Mexican Boundary Survey, Made under the Direction of the Secretary of the Interior, by William H. Emory, Major First Cavalry and United States Commissioner. [Vol. 1]: Washington: A.O.F. Nicholson, Printer, 1857; [Vol. 2]: Washington, 1858. 2 vols. Vol. 1: [i-v] vi-xvi,  2-258, [i-v] vi-viii,  2-174 pp., frontispiece, 2 folded maps (1 in color), 1 map, 1 folded profile, 1 folded chart, 74 plates (12 in color); Vol. 2: , [1-9] 10-270, , [1-3] 4-78, , [1-3] 4-62, [1-3] 4-32, , [1-3] 4-35 , [1-3] 4-85 , [i]-ii pp., 271 plates (25 in color). Total plates: 346, including frontispiece. 4to (29.5 x 23 cm), original black cloth blind embossed with scene and American eagle, title blind stamped on spine; expertly rebacked preserving original spines, new endpapers. Some mild browning and offsetting in vol. 1. A finer copy would be difficult to find, especially with the usually absent large, colored geological map. Most copies of this issue recorded at auction are defective.
First edition (34th Congress, 1st session, Senate Executive Document 108). Bancroft, Arizona & New Mexico, p. 494. Basic Texas Books 57: “One of the most significant of all government reports on western and southern Texas.” Bennett, American Nineteenth Century Color Plate Books, p. 41. Deák, Picturing America, 649-650. Edwards, Desert Voices, pp. 54-55. Field 500. Howes E146. Munk (Alliot), p 72. Palau 79371. Plains & Rockies IV:291. Raines, p. 76. Reese, Stamped with a National Character 31. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West, 822-6 & III, chapter 30.
A work the significance of which is difficult to overstate and whose importance is announced by its incredible size and elaborate production. It was so large and intricate that Congress became alarmed and ordered smaller printings after Vol. 1, making complete sets difficult to find. “Emory’s Report was perhaps the most complete scientific description ever made of the lands, the people, and the border country. [It] recalls the whole incredible history of the U.S.-Mexican Boundary Survey” (Wheat). “The narrative, the scientific reports, and the illustrations made Emory’s production an overwhelming contribution of factual knowledge concerning the American Southwest” (Goetzmann). In addition to its importance otherwise, this work is noted for its beautiful color plates of Native Americans and birds.
Emory (1811-1887) was the most important topographical engineer, surveyor, and describer of the West during his era. He replaced the feckless Bartlett as head of the International Boundary Commission in 1855, but not soon enough to save the U.S. from the trap into which his predecessor had fallen, thereby necessitating the later Gadsden Purchase, the survey of which is described herein. During his career, he roamed all over the Transmississippi West in various capacities, including surveying the U.S.-Canadian boundary (1844-1846).