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The American Bisons,

Living and Extinct

J. A. Allen - 1876

2012 Reprint Edition

With a New Introduction by Robert B. Pickering, Ph.D.
Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Oklahoma

 Gustav's Library Vintage Reprint

Another extraordinarily rare work that was published in 1876.  Allen has split this report into two parts:  Part 1 concerns the extinct Bison of North America and Part 2 the modern species.

Joel A. Allen's work, The American Bisons, Living and Extinct, is the most  important volume of the 19th century to describe and discuss bison morphology  and evolution. Yet, the book is typical of the scientific approach to studying for  the time. After the Civil War, the pace of westward exploration, expansion, and  settlement increased dramatically. The expansionist policy of Manifest Destiny  fired the imaginations of entrepreneurs, immigrants and artists who sought their  future in the wild untamed West created by promoters. While the West may have  been wild, it was neither untamed nor empty of indigenous inhabitants. In the  same year that Allen's bison book was published, Custer's 7th Cavalry was  decimated by combined tribal forces at the Little Big Horn River. In an ironic  form of retribution, military policy as voiced by General Phil Sheridan, stated that  “These men (the buffalo hunters) have done more to settle the vexed Indian  question than the entire regular army has done in the last thirty years. They are  destroying the Indians' commissary. Send them powder and lead if you will, but  for the sake of a lasting peace let them kill, skin and sell until the buffalo are  exterminated. Then your prairies can be covered with speckled cattle and the  festive cowboy who follows the hunter as the second forerunner of an advanced  civilization.” Sheridan’s statement might reflect astute military judgment but it led  to near extinction of the Plains tribes and the buffalo that supported them.... Robert B. Pickering, Introduction to the 2012 Reprint Edition.

The extent of the range of the bison before 1800 is truly amazing (blue portion of map, below). 

Allen's Full Map

Full Size, Range Detail Portion

Click Images to Enlarge


About the 2012 Reprint Map

The large map that was bound directly into the original hardcover edition measures 26" x 32" . As a result of its size and method of attachment in the volume it is very difficult to unfold without causing damage. This has resulted in the generally poor condition of the maps in original publications.

In the 2012 Reprint Edition we have chosen to reproduce the map at a 50% reduction and follow it by the full size, range detail portions of the map (see map images above) . This results in much more usable maps.


Sample  Plates - click on image to enlarge

This 8-1/4" x 10-3/4", 279 page, soft cover, facsimile reprint is  illustrated with  two colored maps of bison distribution and 12 plates (6 large foldouts).  $32.95