New York: W. A. Davis, 1825-26. 4to. 240 x 200 mm. (9 ½ x 8 inches). , 408,  pp. Illustrated with 47 maps, lithographic plates, and portraits, many folding, some in color, as called for in the “Directions to Messrs. Wilson and Nicholls Bookbinders” which appears in the preliminary leaves. Original marbled paper boards, with early repairs and more recent rebacking. Some sporadic foxing, a few tears to plates and maps, expertly repaired.
An official copy, with paper label on front cover reading “Presented by the City of New York to Recorder Rich’d Riker and by him to his Friend Chas. G. Ferris” with a presentation inscription from the same on the front free endpaper.
The steamboat made inland navigation practicable. "The place of honor undoubtedly goes to the illustrations in what is commonly called 'Colden's canal book.' On October 26, 1825 a canal boat started from Lake Erie, and after a triumphal progress, completed, on November 4, in New York, the first passage through the Erie Canal. The celebration in New York was enormous in every way and reached its climax when Governor De Witt Clinton poured water from Lake Erie into the Atlantic. There were parades both in New York Harbor and on Broadway, banquets, dances, speeches, fireworks, and many other forms of celebration. Harry Peters, the expert on the illustrated history of New York, is quoted as saying, “It seems to me highly questionable whether the parades up Broadway in recent years can hold a candle to this affair of a century ago”
Colden, who was mayor of New York when he wrote this account, and a biographer of Robert Fulton, predicted that the canal would make New York the commercial metropolis of the world. He describes the history of navigable waterways in the northeast, and both plausible and implausible schemes for their use. He includes in this book, an account of the celebration, a description of the guilds and groups that paraded, and a detailed narration of the route. This work epitomizes the single moment in American history of most splendid and unwary optimism, the true opening of the American frontier.
All the maps and plates were commissioned by Colden especially for this volume and include, a map of the United States in 1825, a number of maps of New York State, lithographic views of the canal route from Buffalo to New York, City, lithographs of the fire brigades that participated in the parades in New York City and lithographic reproductions of letters from all the living Presidents of the U.S commemorating the open of the Canal. All the lithographic plates were produced by Antony Imbert, “the outstanding American commercial lithographer of his generation.” Artists working with Imbert included George Catlin who is credited with making the six lithographs of towns and locks along the Canal route. (Tatham)
Howes C 562. Shaw and Shoemaker 20118. Stokes and Haskell, American Historical Prints (1933), p. 66. Peters, America on Stone, pp. 228-32. Tatham Prints and Printmakers of New York State, 1825-1940, p. 11. Also see footnote 8 on page 39 of Tatham’s work for a good description of Colden’s, Memoir. Item #358