Lot 5
  • 5

Birch, William

70,000 - 90,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • ink and paper
The Country Seats of the United States of North America, with some Scenes connected with them. Springland, near Bristol, Pennsylvania: William Birch, 1809

Oblong small folio (8 3 /4 x 11 in.; 225 x 280 mm).  Delicately hand-colored line and stipple-engraved title showing the United States Capitol under construction with an Union Eagle above, introductory text leaf followed by hand-colored engraved section title and 18 hand-colored line and stipple-engraved views, 3 text leaves providing very short descriptions of the depicted views at rear; some marginal finger-soiling to title, following text leaf with old dampstain, but plates generally very fresh with only minor general rubbing and soiling almost entirely outside the plate marks, some spotting to final text. Contemporary red roan and marbled boards with red morocco gilt label to upper cover, spine with gilt double-rule compartments and florettes; rubbed along bottom edge and extremities, old repair to label, upper and lower joints starting in lower quarter of spine. Red levant morocco box.


Charles Sessler (description laid in)


Howes B460 "c"; Reese, Stamped with a National Character 2; Sabin 5531; Snyder, "William Birch: His Country Seats of the United States" in PMHB, vol. 81, no. 3

Catalogue Note

Lovely copy of an early American color plate and a true rarity, the scarce subscriber's issue.

"The conception of Country Seats was primarily decorative, a handsome series of views aimed at an audience such as might possess country estates themselves" (Reese, Stamped with a National Character. Birch managed to attract a few subscribers and originally issued the work in four parts, available colored and uncolored, but it was hardly a success. The trade edition issued in book form the same year, also failed to be the major seller hoped for and perhaps as few as 20 of either issue survive.

The estates depicted, from Pennsylvania to Louisiana, are as follows: Hoboken; Hampton; Landsdown; Echo; Mount Vernon; Fountain Green; Solitude; Devon; Mount Sidney; The Seat of Mr. Duplantier; Montibello; Woodlands; Sedgely; Belmont; York Island; Mendenhall Ferry (first issue plate titled "Mandinghall Ferry"); China Retreat and Springland.

among the  rarest american colorplate books and the first dedicated to american scenery.