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2006 Catalog > Clarence E. Dutton, Grand Canyon

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The Dutton Atlas of the Grand Canyon
“One of the greatest if not the greatest of all Grand Canyon books.”
— Francis P. Farquhar, Books of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon

55. Clarence E. Dutton. Atlas to Accompany the Monograph on the Tertiary History of the Grand Cañon District (Washington, D.C.: Department of the Interior, United States Geological Survey, 1882). Large folio (20 1/4 x 18") with original cloth covers, title stamped in gilt. Twenty-three double-page plates of color lithographed maps, lithographs of the canyon by W. H. Holmes, and a striking chromolithograph of The Transept by Thomas Moran. Damp staining along lower edge and to right corner of front cover, effecting same areas of front endpapers. Also faint damp staining to back endpapers. Plates not affected; they are clean and bright. The Moran plate shows minor adhesion at centerfold. Overall fine condition for the plates.

Price: SOLD.

This magnificent collection of maps and views has been called one of the greatest of all government-sponsored publications and a triumph of the chromolithographic technique. It is also a superb combination of science and art—worthy of its magnificent subject: the geology of the Grand Canyon. The project was instigated by the explorer John Wesley Powell while he served as the second director of the United States Geological Survey (USGS). During his tenure from 1881 to 1894, he initiated extensive topographic mapping projects and geological studies, of which the Tertiary History was perhaps the most distinguished. Its author, Clarence E. Dutton, had been an Army captain placed on assignment with Powell in the 1870s. He began working on the Tertiary while a member of the Powell survey. His completed monograph was accompanied by the present atlas of maps and plates, which summarized what was known about the Canyon in the most striking visual manner. The beautifully colored maps were drawn at three different scales to show the topography and geology of the Canyon, resulting in the first attempt at stratigraphic mapping in the United States. The panoramic views by Thomas Moran and especially by William H. Holmes are breathtaking, achieving a level of excellence that has never been excelled. Holmes was the leading scientific illustrator of topographic and geologic phenomema for the Great Western Surveys following the Civil War. In the course of his work, he became a competent geologist, a fact that distinguishes his Grand Canyon views from Moran’s panorama of the Transept. Moran’s view is perhaps more artistic, but Holmes’s views were more accurate. To create the illustrations, chromolithography was employed, the use of which (at this late date in the medium’s history) resulted from the fact that no camera was yet capable of depicting both the sweep of the panorama and the detail that an artist / geologist of Holmes’s skill could capture. Novelist Wallace Stegner once stated that Holmesrsquo;s illustrations of the Grand Canyon were “the highest point to which geological or topographical illustration ever reached in this country.” The Grand Canyon atlas stands unsurpassed for its combination of scientific importance and rare artistic achievement. One of the great documents of Western exploration.

Refs.: “The Robert and Margaret A. Ames Collection of Illustrated Books,” Brown University at www.brown.edu; Phillips, Atlases, 1471.

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