Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - March - 2014 Issue

Western Americana from John Howell for Books


Western Americana.

John Howell for Books released a catalogue of Western Americana. Howell is based in Los Angeles, so not surprisingly, most of these western titles come from the Golden State. The time frame is primarily later 19th to early 20th century. Much of the material is ephemeral in nature, including promotional brochures for favored tourist spots of another time. Here are some of the items being offered.


We start with an early promotional piece for the planned community of Atascadero, California. Atascadero is located midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, a bit inland from the Pacific coast. The pamphlet is titled The Appeal of Atascadero, and was published by Astascadero Estates in 1922, just a decade after colorful and controversial developer Edward Gardner Lewis came west to build a utopian style community. Lewis had made his fortune (which he later lost) in publishing and had built a community in Missouri before heading to California. This pamphlet contains 62 photographs of the young community, and was intended to bring in new residents and tourists, anyone who wished to leave a few bucks in this still appealing community. Item 3. Priced at $150.


Item 24 recalls a war in California in the 1920's, which while no longer a war, still wages ongoing skirmishes to this day. The publication comes from 1925, the height of the California Water Wars. The cover title is Letter of Transmittal and Report of W. F. McClure, State Engineer concerning the Owens Valley - Los Angeles Controversy to Governor Friend Wm. Richardson. The inside title is Owens Valley – Los Angeles. Report Made...Following the Opening of the Alabama Hills Waste Gates of the Aqueduct by the Valley People on November 16, 1924. Actually, valley girls and boys didn't just open the gates. They dynamited part of the system. As Los Angeles realized it would need more water to grow, it set its sights on the Owens River Valley, far to the east, but high enough to support a gravity-fed aqueduct. The city began buying up water rights in the Owens Valley, built an aqueduct, and began drawing the water away. The result was the land of remaining farmers began to dry up as the surface water disappeared, and the water table sank. Eventually, in late 1924, some local farmers blew up part of the system so the water would once again flow through the Owens River. Naturally enough, it would be a futile battle for the farmers against the powerful big city, and within a few years, Owens Lake was dry. Today, battles over water go on as California finds itself in the midst of a serious drought, with not enough water to go around. $550.


Here is another ongoing controversy, even more so today: Survey of the Mexican Labor Problem in California. It was published by the California Development Association, forerunner of the Chamber of Commerce, circa 1928. Though this was a conservative business organization, they were all for immigration from Mexico. Their purpose was to dissuade Congress from imposing quotas on immigrants from Mexico. Their reason was simple economics – they needed labor to work in the fields. Item 4. $100.


This next pamphlet is not about a California native, but about a visitor: The Story of Captain: The Horse with the Human Brain. Despite that description, it appears that Captain actually was a very smart horse. He supposedly could do math tricks, evidently tapping his foot to give answers. He also could match colors, operate a cash register, and play musical instruments. Captain was owned by Capt. Walter A. Sigsbee, a Wisconsin native who performed his act at fairs in the Midwest. The two captains came by train to California, and performed at the expositions in San Francisco and San Diego in 1915. They must have stuck around as this pamphlet by George Wharton James was published in Pasadena in 1917. James was a popular nature writer, evidently impressed by this unnaturally smart horse. Item 16. $85.


Even a state as beautiful as California has its downsides. Here is an account of its most famous one: List of Recorded Earthquakes in California, Lower California, Oregon, and Washington Territory. That description of Washington as a territory means that this must be a fairly old publication, and indeed it is, coming from 1887, two years before Washington was admitted to the Union. Edward Holden used the resources available to him, such as newspapers, journals, private records, and verbal accounts, to compile a list of known earthquakes dating back to 1769. Of course, many more have been added to the list since 1887, but this is a good account of the sketchier early records of seismic activity along the west coast. Holden was an astronomer, first Director of the Lick Observatory east of San Jose, where he set up a seismograph. He also was serving as President of the University of California at this time. Item 11. $150.


John Howell for Books may be reached at 310-367-9720 or info@johnhowellforbooks.com. Their website is www.johnhowellforbooks.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Jenner (Rev. George Charles). <i>The Evidence at Large...Respecting Dr Jenner's Discovery of Vaccine Inoculation,</i> presentation copy from Edward Jenner to Rev. Rowland Hill, 1805. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Houdini (Harry).- Maggi (Girolamo). <i>De tintinnabulis liber postumus...de equuleo liber,</i> Harry Houdini's copy, Amsterdam, H. Wetstein, 1689. £600 to £800
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Meyer (Henry Leonard). Coloured Illustrations of British Birds, and their Eggs , 7 vol. in 2 plus Illustrations of British Birds, 4 vol., 1842-50 and [1835-51]. £5,000 to £7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Dickens (Charles). <i>An Entirely New Romantic Drama, in Three Acts, by Mr. Wilkie Collins, called The Frozen Deep,</i> 1857. £3,000 to £4,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Lighthouses and Islands of Ireland, c. 125 drawings, 1867. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Shelley (Lady Jane). Diary, 1853 & 1860. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Scottish Binding.- The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, bound in contemporary brown polished calf decorated with the figure of a Chinese spearman, by ?James Scott of Edinburgh, 1778. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>The Man Within,</i> first edition, signed by the author, 1929. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Mellan (Claude, 1598-1688). The Holy Face, or the Veil of St Veronica, [c. 1649 and later]. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Desaguliers (John Theophilus). <i>A Dissertation concerning Electricity,</i> W. Innys, and T. Longman, 1742. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Le Jeune (Paul). <i>Relation de se qui s'est passé en la Nouvelle France en l'anné 1636 enuoyée au R.Pere Provincial de la Compagnie de Iesus en la Province de France,</i> 1637. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Stumpf (Johann Rudolph). <i>Gemeiner loblicher Eydgnoschafft Stetten, Landen und Völckern Chronicwirdiger thaaten beschreibung, </i> Zurich, Froschauer, 1586. £3,000 to £4,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> George Washington, Letter Signed to General James Clinton, preparing for the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign, 1778. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising to send reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Thomas Edison, Autograph Letter Signed, to Western Union President William Orton, 1878. $10,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> William, Bishop of Coventry, vellum charter granting the church of Rochdale to the Cistercian Abbey of Stanlaw, in Latin, 1222. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> FDR, Photograph Signed & Inscribed, framed with wood removed from the White House roof, 1927. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Jean Dubuffet, archive including many letters written while painting in NYC, 1951-72. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Mohandas K. Gandhi, Autograph Letter Signed, describing the source of his patience, 1939. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Lithograph portrait of Albert Einstein by Hermann Struck, signed by both, 1923. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Charles The Bold, Duke of Burgundy, Letter Signed to Johann IV of Nassau, in French, 1470. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Jean Cocteau, Autograph Letter Signed, in French, 1919. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Louis Armstrong, two Autograph Letters Signed to Erich Kauffmann, his lip salve purveyor, 1965-70. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Wernher von Braun, Autograph Letter Signed to Jonathan Cross, 1975. $5,000 to $7,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. 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. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. $100,000 to $150,000
    <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. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. 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. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <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>

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