Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2005 Issue

The Old Southwest and a Few of Its Characters from Almagre Books

R0405

The Southwest, and further south, from Almagre Books.


By Michael Stillman

Almagre Books'
List 59A offers a collection of books about the American Southwest, along with South and Central America. The official title is New Mexico, Texas, and the Southwest. Mexico and Latin America. You might wonder how a collection of this sort ended up in the hands of a Bloomington, Indiana, bookseller. So do I. However, it doesn't really matter. If you find books from this area of interest, and I admit to being partial to the American Southwest, Almagre has over 500 to offer. You should definitely take a look. Here are a few, with a focus on those in the English language (many of the texts offered are in Spanish).

Item 123 has the innocent enough heading Headquarters, Dept. of New Mexico, Fort Craig, N.M. March 13th, 1862. General Order No. 18. This is a series of court-martials of New Mexico Volunteers following the Battle of Valverde. Texian troops were proceeding north along the Rio Grande in New Mexico, hoping to capture much of the West for the Confederacy. Union forces at Fort Craig, under Colonel E.R.S. Canby, were initially successful in intercepting the invaders. However, the Confederates battled back, and the Union forces were forced to retreat. Col. Canby blamed the defeat on New Mexico Volunteers. It was charged that they fled, instead of supplying other forces with assistance. Others feel responsibility for the defeat should lay with Canby himself, and that the volunteers, mostly ethnic Mexicans, were an easy target. Those convicted in the court-martial were sentenced to be shot to death, but most sentences were reduced to ten years imprisonment. Meanwhile, the Texans skirted Fort Craig, overran Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and headed for Fort Union in northern New Mexico. There, Union troops and Colorado volunteers held them at bay until, supplies destroyed, the Confederates were forced to retreat all the way back to Texas. Confederate dreams for the West died. This 1862 official printing is priced at $950.

William Ruschenberger was a naval surgeon, writer and scientist who served 38 years in the U.S. Navy. Somehow along the way, he found time to write several books about his voyages. Item 102 is not one of his books, but a letter he wrote to Jean Jacques Smith back in the states while stationed with the "Independence" in Valparaiso, Chile. The date is February 27, 1855, and Ruschenberger was making his first visit to Chile after an absence of many years. He laments, "I have just returned from a walk on shore very sad, for I find none of my old friends among the Chilians; I ask for my old sweethearts, those I saw last some seventeen years since; they are all dead, or gone off as mothers and grand mothers...." It's just as well. Better to remember them as they were seventeen years ago. Ruschenberger points out that prices have skyrocketed since he left, attributing it to wealth obtained from the California Gold Rush. He also notes that the newspapers are saying the "Yankees" are seeking to annex the entire Pacific coast, "from California to Tierra del Fuego" (the southern tip of South America). The fears must have seemed real, as the U.S. had taken California and the American Southwest from Mexico only a few years before. In a positive development, he points out that the law now imposes a fifty cent fine on anyone caught urinating on the outside of a house. A few of our cities might take heed. Item 102. $500.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <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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