Picturesque America is a two-volume set of essays and artwork cultivated by William Cullen Bryant. Initially sent out as a subscription service to those who subscribed to the book as it came out, the two books were published individually by D. Appleton and Company in 1872 and 1874.
These volumes were incredibly popular in their time, as they showed a unified and growing country after the strife of the Civil War. That popularity means that there are many first edition copies still available today, an abundance that keeps the prices relatively low. Prices are currently listed between $400 and $5,000, but in recent auctions, first edition copies have sold for as little as $300. While these prices vary widely depending on the condition of the books, the overall low prices make this book an attractive option for collectors interested in American history. This first edition copy was bound in brown Morocco with beautiful black stamping and lettered in gilt.
Original copies of this book in the individual subscription form are also sometimes available, but those prices are usually relatively similar to the two-volume set. Conversely, one-of-a-kind copies are sometimes valued somewhat higher. For example, a hand-bound copy of the book that was displayed at the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 is currently for sale for $18,000.
Another version of this book that is often collected is the Centennial Edition, which was published in 1974. These are also not very rare, and as such can usually be found for sale for less than $200. Other antique copies published in the late 19th and early 20th centuries are often available for similar prices.
Bryant, William Cullin. Picturesque America; or, the Land We Live In. A Delineation by Pen and Pencil of the Mountains, Rivers, Lakes, Forests, Waterfalls, Shores, Canons, Valleys, Cities, and other Picturesque Features of our Country.. Appleton (1872). two volumes; 45 steel-engraved plates, numerous steel-engraved text illustrations, the majority after Harry Fenn, A.C. Warren, Thomas Moran, James Smillie, Granville Perkins, William Hart.