Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2010 Issue

Old West Books from Old West Books

Oldwest20

More from the Old West.


By Michael Stillman

Old West Books has issued Catalog 29 of books about just what you'd expect. It offers a nice mix of contemporary, highly collectible books with more recent histories and reprints suitable for reading. Among the topics covered are Custer, cattle, the fur trade, outlaws, Indian wars, lawmen, and the Texas Rangers (not the baseball team, the lawmen). You may find some exaggeration here, authors tending to make bigger-than-life characters even bigger than bigger than life, but there is no limit to the wonder and excitement to be found in these books. It's time to go back to the days when the West was still wild, the frontier still a place of discovery and danger, where only the hardiest could hope to survive.

You expect most books about the West to be focused on someone shooting someone, and there is some of that here, but this book covers much more about the area that houses America's first national park: Chronicles of the Yellowstone. An Accurate, Comprehensive History of the Country Drained by the Yellowstone River… Author E.S. Topping reviews its history (as of 1883), including records of its Indian inhabitants, the geysers and other natural wonders in the park, the trappers, gold seekers, settlers and soldiers who came, the railroad, the Indians wars and building of towns. This is a rare book about what may be the West's most spectacular region. Item 16. Priced at $1,000.

The Indians got a lot of bad press in the 19th century. Those who took their homeland from them reacted with dismay and horror when the natives fought back. One of the few who recognized that the natives were being terribly mistreated was John Beeson, an immigrant to Oregon from Illinois. He was compelled to speak out, which he did in A Plea for the Indians; with Facts and Features of the Late War in Oregon. Offered is an 1858 third edition of a work originally published in 1857. Beeson did not win plaudits from his neighbors for pointing out the injustices. Instead, he had to flee the territory for his life. His book did receive a much warmer reception back east where sympathy for America's natives was greater. Item 32. $575.

Now here is a tale of the Old West at its wildest. Actually, this is more of a horror story than a western. The Benders, aka the "Bloody Benders," opened an isolated inn along a roadway in Kansas in 1871. It was a combination small store and inn where travelers could spend a night… or eternity if they weren't careful. The Benders consisted of a man and wife in their 50s and a son and daughter. Most weren't terribly social except for daughter Kate, reputedly a very attractive, talkative, and charming young lady who could lure any traveling male in for the night. Guests would be seated with their backs to a curtain, wherefrom father or son would emerge with a hammer, smash in the guest's skull, and after slitting their throats to be certain they were dead, the bodies would be dumped down a trap door to the basement. This place was a combination Bates Motel and Sweeney Todd's barbershop. After a few too many people disappeared along the road, folks from nearby towns began searching the homesteads along the way. Something around a dozen bodies were found buried in the orchard behind the Benders' inn, but by then, the family had fled. They were never found. It was learned that they weren't really a family, only Kate and her mother actually being mother and daughter. Several vigilante parties claim to have killed them, but that seems to be boasting. A railroad engineer's testimony indicated they had taken a train from a nearby town, and later split up, two heading to west Texas, two to St. Louis. In 1889, two women were brought from Detroit to Kansas, supposedly the "Bender" women, but were released for lack of evidence. Whatever happened to the "family" remains a mystery to this day.

Item 173 is The Five Fiends or The Bender Hotel in Kansas. $4,500. Item 198 is The Benders of Kansas by John T. James Attorney for the Defense in the Trial of The Bender Women… This relates to the abortive trial of 1889 of Kate and "Ma" Bender. $4,000.

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>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 Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.
  • <b>Leland Little: Important Fall Auction. September 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Published Half Plate Ambrotype of a North Carolina Confederate Officer. $2,000 to $4,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Two 19th Century Books Pertaining to Canada's Red River Settlement. $400 to $800
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Two Books With Fore-Edge Paintings of British Architectual Landmarks. $400 to $600
    <b>Leland Little: Important Fall Auction. September 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987), "Torte a la Dobosch" from <i>Wild Raspberries</i>. $1,000 to $3,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Keith Haring (American, 1958-1990), <i>Pop Shop II,</i> One Plate screenprint in colors, on wove paper, 1998. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Thomas Rowlandson (British, 1756-1827), Twenty-Two Prints from the <i>Tours of Dr. Syntax</i>. $500 to $1,000

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