Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2010 Issue

The American West from Old West Books

Oldwest28

The latest tales from the Old West.


By Michael Stillman

Old West Books has just issued their 28th catalogue of Rare, Out of Print Books on the American West. Old West notes that among the topics of this group are Custer, cattle, the fur trade, outlaws, and Indian wars. That is more by way of example than limitation, as anything about the Old West may be found. If it happened across the Mississippi during the 19th, maybe early 20th century, it is fair game for an Old West catalogue. Here are a few from this time around.

America's Indians did not have a lot of positive press in the 19th century. Indeed, there are several such books within this catalogue whose titles refer to them as "savages." Once these people were labeled as "savages," it became easy to mistreat them, take their land. In 1879, Helen Hunt Jackson heard an Indian Chief speak of his people's troubles, and she was outraged. Changing government policies toward the natives became the overriding goal of the remainder of her life. She managed to find a few sympathetic newspaper publishers who would print her articles about mistreatment of the Indians. Then, in 1881, she published this book: A Century of Dishonor. It recounts the land confiscation and forced removal of several tribes. Mrs. Jackson sent a copy of it to every member of Congress. It helped a little, but only minimally. America was not yet ready to confront its treatment of the Indians, since the process of removal to free up lands for whites was still ongoing at the time. A couple of years later, she published a novel which became hugely successful, Ramona. It told the story of a half-Indian girl and the prejudices she and her Indian husband faced. Ms. Jackson was most interested in getting across the message of the suffering of California's Indians, though the success of this book was based more on it being a romance than a social narrative. Ms. Jackson had more books planned, including one intended to bring her message to children, but she died in 1885 before she could write any more. Item 26. $750.

Item 88 is a biography of a man, oddly enough by the person who killed him. Sheriff Pat Garrett shot an apparently unarmed Billy the Kid off guard in a dark bedroom. The Kid was not much known outside of New Mexico at the time, though he probably did kill half a dozen to a dozen men along the way. However, it was Garrett who made Billy a sensation, though his aim was not so much to promote the outlaw. It was to promote himself, and Garrett had to aggrandize The Kid's reputation so that he could be seen as a great hero for killing him. Garrett had the book published in 1882, and that was the only edition printed during his lifetime. Item 88 is a copy of the second edition of The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid, the Noted Desperado, not published until 1927. This edition was edited by Maurice Fulton, who attempted to make it a bit more authentic than Garrett's original version. $375.

Item 23 is a very rare Custer related item, a "correction" as it were to his famous Life on the Plains. This book is entitled Some Corrections of Life on the Plains, by General William B. Hazen. Hazen had served honorably during the Civil War, and then headed out west, where he was serving as an Indian Agent at the time of the Battle of the Washita (or, perhaps more accurately, the massacre). General George Armstrong Custer had overwhelmed an Indian village, and wished to continue with wiping out the Kiowa Indians, whom Custer claimed were among those combating the U.S. military. Hazen had prevented this action, saying the Kiowas were not hostile. Custer had attacked Hazen in his book, and this very rare pamphlet was Hazen's reply. $8,500.

Item 45 is Daniel Blue's Thrilling Narratives of the Adventures, Sufferings and Starvation of Pike's Peak Gold Seekers on the Plains of the West in the Winter and Spring of 1859. Old West informs us, "Blue's narrative is perhaps more horrifying to the modern reader than thrilling." This is a 1987 reprint of the unobtainable 1860 first edition, of which only three copies are known. Blue and his two brothers set out from Illinois with a small group in hopes of reaching the gold fields of Pike's Peak. They traveled with another group for a while, but after a dispute they separated. Blue's party became hopelessly lost. It was winter, they lost their only horse, weather was terrible, and finally, provisions ran out. Daniel was forced to resort to the ultimate horror as his brothers died. He had to eat their bodies to survive, though noting it had been with their consent and insistence. He was found in a state of dementia by an Arapahoe Indian and saved, to return home, never to wander again. $20.

Speaking of cannibalism, item 100 is The Expedition of the Donner Party and Its Tragic Fate. The author is Eliza Houghton, the daughter of George and Tamsen Donner. She was their youngest daughter, just four years old at the time of the tragic journey that took the lives of her parents in 1847. Eliza was rescued and went on to write this book many years later (published in 1911), and lived until 1922. In this book, she tells of her family's life before the journey, the tragedy of that trip and her rescue, and then about her life later on and the impact of the Gold Rush on California. $300.

Old West Books may be reached at 719-260-6030 or oldwestbooks@earthlink.net. Their website is www.oldwestbooks.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions