Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2016 Issue

Americana and the American West from Michael Heaston Rare Books & Manuscripts

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Americana from Michael Heaston, with Kit Carson on the cover.

Michael D. Heaston Rare Books & Manuscripts has issued a catalogue that will appeal to collectors of a wide range of Americana, particularly the American West: Americana. A Selection of Rare Books, Pamphlets & Broadsides Including a Fine Selection of Works Concerning the American West. There are some things that will appeal to those looking for the obscure, such as personal archives of unknown people, or the western book written by an author described as a "senile braggart." Then next, you may find a rare and very important piece of American history. They are all here together in a fascinating look at American history. Here are a few samples.

 

We begin with one of those items of great significance. There are many names from the Old West that are still familiar today, cowboys, gunfighters, buffalo hunters and the like. Those were from the second half of the 19th century. Fewer names are remembered from the even older West, the first half of that century. Here is the best known of them all – Kit Carson. The early days were ones of exploration and living off the land, rather than settling it. The first to explore were the trappers, beaver pelts being in high demand for fashion hats in Europe. At the age of 17, Kit Carson ran away from home and headed west. He hooked up with fur traders, and spent most of his time from 1826-1840 as a mountain man, trapping, trading, and at times fighting Indians. Carson could be both brutal and uncaring in his relations with the country's natives, and at other times friendly and concerned (he twice married Indian women). By 1840, fashions in Europe had changed, and the beaver had been to a large extent hunted out anyway. Carson turned to hunting to supply food for soldiers. In 1842, he got his biggest break, the one that turned this unknown trapper/hunter into a household name across America. He was hired by John C. Fremont as a guide on his western explorations. Fremont undertook three expeditions, the final one ending up with his securing California for the United States during the Mexican War. In his accounts, Fremont wrote up Carson's exploits. He became an American hero, the subject of numerous dime novels. He would next be appointed an Indian Agent, and come the Civil War, he joined the Union Army and received a command, fighting in New Mexico (yes, there were Civil War battles as far west as New Mexico). After the war, he was placed in charge of a fort in Colorado, but that lasted only briefly. Carson's health was declining and he died in 1868. That leads us to item 25, a remarkable document. It is the official conferring of the rank of Brigadier General by Brevet on Christopher Carson. It was made on April 9, 1866, by President Andrew Johnson. Johnson's signature was made via his rubber stamp, but that of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was made by hand. Carson's appointment is accompanied by a photograph of him, an enlargement of one by Matthew Brady by G. Grelling of Detroit. The picture was both taken and printed sometime in the early 1860's. That photograph of Carson, likely at the age of 53-55, is seen on the cover of this catalogue. The appointment and photograph are priced at $35,000.

 

One of the most collectible of subjects is Mormon history. This is a major document in that history, a turning point in the life of the community. Driven by unfriendly neighbors in Missouri to Nauvoo, Illinois, the welcome was no friendlier there. In 1844, church founder Joseph Smith and his brother were killed by a mob, and by 1846, the Mormon community found the local hostility to be untenable. New leader Brigham Young made a decision of monumental consequence to the community. Item 12 is the first printing of the announcement, a broadside headed A Circular of the High Council. To the Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, published on January 20, 1846. In it, the Council of Twelve announces for the first time that they will all move west. It had previously been announced that they would leave, but no specificity of where they would go was given. In this proclamation, they reveal, "Our pioneers are instructed to proceed West until they find a good place to make a crop, in some good valley in the neighborhood of the Rocky Mountains, where they will infringe on no one, and be not likely to be infringed upon." This is one of only four copies of this proclamation known. Item 12. $20,000.

 

America has seen three notable declarations of independence. There was, of course, the one in 1776, the Texas Declaration, and then this one. Item 19 is a broadside declaration headed En El Puerto de Monterrey de la Alta California, published in 1836. This is the California Declaration of Independence. The revolution of sorts was spearheaded by Juan Alvarado, one of the local officials displeased by interference in their affairs by officials in Mexico City. In time, the disputes were resolved and Alvarado officially appointed as Governor, but the desire for independence would arise again a decade later with the Bear Flag Revolt. This time, with immigrants from the United States rather than from Mexico leading the way, with the force of the U. S. Army in the Mexican War behind them, California would be separated from Mexico, to become a territory and then a state of the U. S. A. This copy of the extremely rare document was once part of the great Americana collection of Thomas Streeter. $65,000.

 

The Mexican government was struggling with both rebellious American settlers and finances in their northern lands in this era. Item 149 is a document from the Ministerio De Hacienda, adopted in 1837, printed in 1839. It provides security for loans from London bankers. In it, the Mexican government agrees to secure debts with lands in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora, and Chihuahua. Each pound of debt is secured by four acres of land, with an extra 100 million acres held as security. It is interesting that Texas lands are included as security as by 1837, Texas had secured its independence from Mexico, even if the latter had attempted to go back on Santa Anna's granting of independence, obtained under the barrel of a gun. $850.

 

For a look at life in the West, particularly Montana, during the 19th century, here is an account: Thirty-One Years on the Plains and in the Mountains; Or, the Last Voice from the Plains. Authentic Records of a Lifetime of Hunting, Scouting, and Indian Fighting, by Captain Wm. F. Drannan, who went to the Plains when 15 years old, published in 1899. Be careful about taking everything Drannan says too literally. He evidently had a different meaning for the word "authentic" than do most of us. This is the book Howes described in his USiana as, "Reminiscences—chiefly of adventures that never happened—by a senile braggart." In a later catalogue, Howes elaborated, "Old Cap Drannan was, he claims, associated with Fremont, Carson, Beckwith and Bridges and served as Chief of Scouts under Crook, Connor and Elliot. To write out all of his deeds and enumerate all the Redskins he slaughtered would fill a catalog page, so it can only be said here that if truth is stranger than fiction, this narrative is true." Still, Howes gave it a rating of "aa," not for accuracy, but rarity, meaning it is an uncommon title. Item 43. $375.

 

Michael D. Heaston Rare Books & Manuscripts can be reached at 512-417-8045 or mdheaston@cox.net.

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

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