Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2013 Issue

Outlaws and Lawmen from Kenston Rare Books

Kenstonwinter2013

Granville Torbett on the cover of the latest Kenston catalogue.

Kenston Rare Books has issued a catalogue of Outlaws & Lawmen. Kenston is a specialist on Texas and the American West, the Old West to be specific. This one, as the title indicates, is not so much focused on cowboys and Indians as on outlaws and those who pursued them. There is not much about the the Custers and Sitting Bulls here, but Billy the Kid, Jesse James and Wyatt Earp fill many of its pages. The personalities cover the Kid and James' era up to that of Bonnie and Clyde, half a century later. The books, however, range from contemporary to recent. You will find books for collecting, reading, or mostly, both. Let's take a look.

That picture you see on the cover of this catalogue is probably that of Granville Torbett, author of the title 78 Days in Muskogee Jail and What I Seen There. Merle Haggard may have thought Muskogee was the most wonderful place on earth, but Mr. Torbett strenuously disagreed. His 78 days were evidently most unpleasant. Torbett does not tell us exactly why he was thrown in jail, but he says the defense attorneys are but “confidence slicks and grafters of the legal profession.” The marshals are interestingly described as a “cross between humans and measles.” Conditions in the jail were deplorable, with rotten food, inadequate clothing, indifferent guards, and generally inhuman treatment. However, Torbett saves his worst attacks for the government of what was then Indian Territory, saying it was run by “carpet baggers from New Jersey.” This is a very obscure title, and while this copy is not in the best of condition, you may never come across another. Item 182. Priced at $385.

Here is Wyatt Earp as you never knew him. Earp is today remembered for his winning role during the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. He was the good guy, the U.S. marshal who gunned down the bad guys. In the days after, Earp bounced around to many locations and many jobs. One of them was as a boxing referee, which led to his receiving the job of officiating a heavyweight title bout in 1896 between champion Bob Fitzsimmons and Tom Sharkey. By the end of this fight, Earp was better known for his role as a referee than a gunfighter, and he was no longer the good guy in most people's eyes. Earp arrived at the ring with his six-shooter strapped to his waist, whereupon marshals were forced to remove it. What was controversial, however, occurred in the ring. In the eighth round, Fitzsimmons knocked Sharkey to the canvas, the latter apparently being in some state of unconciousness or semi-consciousness. The fight was over, but not in the way most expected. Earp ruled that Fitzsimmons hit Sharkey while he was down, a claim disputed by many. He awarded the victory to the unconscious Sharkey. Needless to say, this did not make Earp a popular man with the crowd. Fitzsimmons later sued for the purse, but was rebuffed when the court decided it could not rule on the case because boxing was illegal in San Francisco. Many charged Earp with fixing the fight, but no one knows for sure what was his motivation. He moved on to other pursuits, never returning to San Francisco until his ashes were buried there in 1929. Item 40 is The Earp Decision, by Jack DeMattos, published in 1984. It contains newspaper accounts of the controversial fight and the court case that followed. $30.

Billy the Kid has received much bad press over the years. It's time to look at Billy The Kid: The Good Side of a Bad Man. The Kid has been alleged to be many unpleasant things – cold blooded killer, cattle rustler, thief. Certainly he killed many men, but the circumstances and motivation are not always clear. He had many defenders, who saw Billy as a defender of the underdog against powerful interests. Unquestionably, he was extremely loyal to those he served, and was popular with many at the low end of the social spectrum, especially poor Mexican-Americans who had few supporters outside of their own community. This 1989 book, by Lee Priestley with Marquita Peterson, is based on interviews with families from New Mexico whose ancestors had known Billy and passed down their memories of him. Item 124. $30.

Billy the Kid met his demise in a darkened room, at the wrong end of a gun held by Sheriff Pat Garrett. At least that's how the story goes. As frequently happens when such celebrated people die, rumors persisted that it was not really Billy who was shot that night, that the event was staged, or it was someone else, or who knows what. The theory is that Billy went into hiding to live his days peacefully somewhere else (like Elvis). Item 191 is Billy The Kid:Killedin New MexicoDied in Texas, by Dr. Jannay P. Valdez and Judge Bobby E. Hefner, published in 1994. They support the theory that “Brushy” Bill Roberts, of Hico, Texas, who died in 1950, almost 70 years after Garrett supposedly shot The Kid, was really Billy. Roberts was extensively interviewed in the late 1940s, and said many things that could make you believe he was Billy, and others that could make you question his claim. Sixty years after he died, he still has his supporters and detractors. $45.

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 Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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