1850. New York: George P. Putnam, 1850.
4to, 43, 2 pp. and 40 leaves with 195 mounted specimens plus 11 duplicates laid in separately, plus 2 additional large specimens collected by Durant laid-in each inscribed by his daughter Emma Durant with a 2pp. ALs from her presenting “the last copy of the book I know of” to “an appreciative friend of the author”. Publisher’s burgundy pebble-grain morocco, ornately gilt, backstrip and corners restored pre 1928 (mentioned in the A.L.s). Box.
§ One of fifty copies printed of which only a few were finished with the mounted specimens. The first work on algology printed in America, this is the family copy with additional inserted specimens and a handwritten letter by the author’s daughter about the book. The author Charles Durant is better known as the the first successful American balloonist, ascending on September 9, 1830 from New York’s Castle Garden and scattering copies of poem he had written on the joys of flight from on high. After his marriage in 1837 he was convinced to give up the dangerous pursuit and instead won renown as the fabricator of the first American native silk, opened a lithography business, entered politics, and began collecting seaweed. The admiring press reported that “Mr Durant has waded at least a thousand miles in the waters of the New York Bay to procure these specimens, and has expended upwards of two thousand hours in their preparation”. He was compared with Audubon. Published at $100 a copy, it is estimated that only around 15 copies were completed with the mounted specimens. 13 copies have been located in institutions; only two have appeared at auction in the past century. Item #110480