Eli Bowen. The Pictorial Sketch-Book of Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia: Willis P. Hazard, 1852. Octavo. Original embossed green buckram cover with gold title and decoration on spine, with gold seal of the Commonwealth on front cover. With nearly 200 wood engraved illustrations. Very good condition.
An excellent text and series of views of Pennsylvania’s “Scenery, Internal Improvements, Resources, and Agriculture, Popularly Described.” As the nexus of roads, canals, and rail systems expanded, so too did the middle-class capacity and desire for travel – and for accompanying guide-books. Eli Bowen’s guide, issued in 1852, fulfilled that demand ably. The volume included descriptions of all parts of Pennsylvania, but its most notable feature was the set of engraved illustrations of all parts of the state. Based on first-hand drawings, the images were printed by the process of wood-engraving. Because its matrix was the same as the printer’s typeface, wood-engravings could be run on the same press as the text. Convenient and easily engraved, such a block (usually a piece of end-grain wood) was capable of holding a remarkable amount of detail, offering the printer an efficient yet effective means of integrating images into his text. Bowen’s series is especially desirable, as it contains rare mid-nineteenth century views of many small towns in Pennsylvania.