Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2003 Issue

Finding Early Works About The Oregon Trail

Abby6

MatchMaker finds Matches

Next up we find Ross Cox’s 1831 Adventures on the Columbia River…. Cox was a fur-trader who traveled to Oregon in 1812 and back in 1817. His is another first-hand account of travels to Oregon before there was a real trail.

Even earlier is John Bradbury’s Travels in the Interior of America…. The first edition is printed in Liverpool in 1817, the second in London in 1819. The second includes a map not included with the first. Bradbury had accompanied Hunt on a journey up the Missouri in 1810. And then there’s H.R. Brackenridge’s Views of Louisiana…, printed in 1814. Unusually, this work was actually printed in America, specifically, the frontier town of Pittsburgh. Brackenridge passed Hunt going up the Missouri, but returned to St. Louis long before reaching Oregon. Next is another French work, Gabriel Franchere’s 1820 Relation d’un Voyage…, printed in Montreal.

Finally, there’s a very interesting item despite its relatively recent date: Robert Stuart’s The Discovery of the Oregon Trail, printed in 1935. Why so late? It’s not a typical reprint. The answer is that it’s the first English edition. It originally was published with a set of other volumes in French in 1821. This book also contains the first English translation of Hunt’s work. Stuart traveled backward, from Oregon to St. Louis, in 1812-13, and is credited with discovering "South Pass" (a key pass on the Oregon Trail) and establishing the Trail itself.

O.K. We’ve developed a nice list of early Oregon Trail-related titles simply by discovering the name of Wilson Hunt. Now let’s try adding some of these other names to Oregon in a search. To save time, we’ll do them all at once. Watch carefully. We’ll put the “or” sign (“/ ”) between each name, and then the “and” sign (“&”) before Oregon. It looks like this in the search box: cox/bradbury/brackenridge/franchere/staurt&oregon. This will find us every record with one of these surnames plus the word “Oregon.”

This brings up several new titles, including Alexander Ross’ The Fur Traders of the Far West. Not surprisingly, we find that most of these early “explorers” were really fur traders, who later recounted what they had discovered in the conduct of their trade. While slightly later in printing date (1855), this work recounts Ross’ adventures between 1813 and 1825. What’s really interesting, however, is an even later title, Reuben Thwaites’ Early Western Travels. This ÆD reference, taken from one of Edward Eberstadt’s catalogs, lists over 30 names of early explorers. Now I can take these names down and do another of those “or” searches combined with “Oregon” to find even more references. Starting from just one name, Wilson Hunt, I’ve discovered a whole list of names to research.

Many new titles emerge as I search these new names. I discover works written by explorers such as James O. Pattie, Peter Skene Ogden, Benjamin Bilson, and Father DeSmet. However, I have a particular interest in two works by Thomas Jefferson Farnham: from 1841 there’s Travels in the Great Western Prairies…, and from 1844, History of the Oregon Territory. My attention is particularly focused on the rare first edition of the earlier title. Those of you following my colleague, Bruce McKinney’s contributions to this collaborative project, may be aware that he is a collector of Hudson Valley imprints. It just so happens that on this title, our interests overlap. Farnham’s first book was first printed in the spelling bee participant’s nightmare city, Poughkeepsie, New York. And as any geographer knows, Poughkeepsie was settled along the banks of the mighty Hudson.

This will not be an inexpensive title to purchase. An inscribed copy from Farnham was sold at the Siebert auction in 1999 for $3,450, more than double the estimate. An unsigned version was sold by Christie’s in 2002 for $1,554. I find only one copy of the Poughkeepsie first available on Abebooks today, a not-perfect copy for $2,250. I’ll need to keep my eyes open for this one. If I find the right copy, I may be able to sell it to Mr. McKinney…after a suitable mark-up, of course.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b> The Library of Pierre Bergé<br>Auction Pierre Bergé & Associés<br>in association with Sotheby’s<br>Paris-Hôtel Drout<br>December 14, 2018<br><br>New York Exhibition<br>Oct. 16 to Oct. 20</b>
    <b>The Library of Pierre Bergé, NY exhibition 10/16 to 10/20:</b> BARTHOLOMEUS ANGLICUS. <i>Le Proprietaire des choses.</i> Lyon, [circa 1484]. 150 000 / 200 000 €
    <b>The Library of Pierre Bergé, NY exhibition 10/16 to 10/20:</b> MONTAIGNE, Michel de. <i>Essais.</i> Bordeaux, 1580. 400 000 / 500 000 €
    <b>The Library of Pierre Bergé, NY exhibition 10/16 to 10/20:</b> PROUST, Marcel. <i>Du côté de chez Swann.</i> Paris, 1914 [1913]. 600 000 / 800 000 €
    <b>The Library of Pierre Bergé, NY exhibition 10/16 to 10/20:</b> MONSTRELET, Enguerrand de. <i>Le Premier [-Tiers] Volume des Cronicques.</i> Paris, circa 1503.<br>300 000 / 400 000 €
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 16:</b> Jean de Mandeville, <i>Reysen und Wanderschafften durch das Gelobte Land,</i> Strassburg, 1488. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 16:</b> Titus Livius, <i>Las Quatorze Decadas,</i> Zaragoza, 1520. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 16:</b> Printed <i>Book of Hours</i> with 20 full-page illustrations, Paris, 1509. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 16:</b> Jean La Fontaine, <i>Fables Choisies, mises en Vers,</i> first editions, Paris, 1668. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 16:</b> Giovanni Boccaccio, <i>De las mujeres illustres en romance,</i> Zaragoza, 1494. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 16:</b> Giovanni Boccaccio, third edition of the first published work of female biography, Louvain, 1487. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 16:</b> José González Cabrera Bueno, <i>Navegación Especulativa, y Práctica,</i> Manila, 1734. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 16:</b> Andreas Vesalius, <i>Icones Anatomicae,</i> Munich, Bremer Press, 1934. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 16:</b> Joseph Boneta y Laplana, <i>Gritos del Purgatorio, y Medios para acallarlos,</i> Manila, 1711. $4,000 to $6,000.

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