Gordon, George B. and John A. Mason (Eds.)
Examples of Maya Pottery in the Museum and Other Collections.
Seller ID: 1673
Philadelphia: University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, 1925 -1928. First edition, in two volumes, unpaginated. Elephant folio (53 cm), portfolio in original brown cloth over gray paper covered boards, black titles to front cover; two brown paper wrappers each with 25 large, vivid collotype plates illustrative of Maya pottery found at various sites across Central America (e.g., Copan, Honduras and Chamas, Guatemala). Originally planned as a series of four issues, each comprising twenty-five plates showing virtually every example of publicly held Maya potters' work in natural size and precise detail, the second issue was nearly complete when G. B. Gordon, the editor, suddenly died. Mason, whose special interest was North American indigenous cultures, oversaw the completion of the second series, but his efforts did not extend beyond the publication in 1943 of an abbreviated third series comprising sixteen plates (not represented here). To be fair, it should be pointed out that as German institutions held various examples of Maya pottery, securing their images no doubt became increasingly difficult as the Second World War grew near. George Byron Gordon (not to be confused in Google searches with the English romantic poet) became head of Harvard's Peabody Museum's explorations at Copan, Honduras, with the death from "fever" (probably typhus) in 1892 of his predecessor John G. Owens. His work directing the Peabody project, which focussed on the hieroglyphic stairway, continued with some interruption through 1900 when the project at Copan was brought to a halt by "political turmoil" in the country. Gordon went on to a career as director for some twenty years of the University of Pennsylvania Museum where he was an aggressive collector of native North American artefacts at a time when they were being eagerly bought by collectors such as George G. Heye whom Gordon counted as a friend. (An image of Gordon at Copan Ruinas in his Indiana Jones regalia accompanies this listing.) The principal illustrator for the publication was M. Louise Baker who drew and coloured all but a handful of the plates in a style characteristically precise and vivid. An appreciation of Baker's work by Elin Danien, an associate of the Museum, "Paintings in Maya Pottery: the Art and Career of M. Louise Baker," appeared in 2006 (FAMSI). Some few others in the two sets were the work of Annie Hunter, W. v. d. Steinem, and Gordon himself. Most of the plates show cups and bowls, some intact and some others as reconstructed from fragments, and succeed as photographs could not in capturing the images out of the round so that the narrative images are more easily discerned and connected. Notes on the location of each of the pottery pieces, together with notes on their use, etc., serve as a table of contents for each of the issues. Fine examples of Maya pottery are housed, among other places, at Copan, Honduras, where the Museo Regional de Arqueologia Maya located off the Parque Central and the Sculpture Museum at the principal archaeological site, Copan Ruinas, exhibit the work of Maya artists. The portfolio itself has worn corners, some superficial soiling, and the ties are perished. Each of the forty-five colour and five black and white plates is clean and bright. B & w plate XLVIII is creased along the bottom 1/4" but otherwise, like the other forty-nine, fine. This series of illustrative plates was published in quite small editions intended to be sold by subscription and, while held by a number of libraries, is scarce in the market.
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