Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2017 Issue

Books from the Old West from Old West Books


The Old West.

Old West Books recently published its Catalog 42 of Rare, Out of Print Books on the American West. Actually, you need only the dealer's three-word name to understand what is in this collection. What we can add is that Old West does not focus on just the more common titles in the field. This is a catalogue for Old West aficionados. Along with regularly published books you will find some that were privately printed in small numbers, tales of those who experienced the West when it was old, in books prepared strictly for family and friends. Often, these are people who personally experienced some of the hardships of the West, such as travels along the Oregon Trail, or individuals who met or knew some of the famous western outlaws and other characters whose names we all know. You won't know these books unless you follow the field closely, but they are highly collectible, along with having fascinating stories to tell. Here, now, are a few selections from this catalogue.


We begin with a biography of a man who is not well-known, but perhaps somewhat through his own fault. Unlike many western characters, Charley Reynolds was not a braggart. His quiet demeanor led to the nickname "Lonesome" Charley Reynolds, and those who asked him to recount his exploits would hear Charley tell them he really didn't have anything worth mentioning. Charley was a surprisingly well-educated man, one who went to college when few did. He headed west from his home in Missouri during the Civil War to avoid family problems, he being a loyal Union man in a Confederate sympathizing family. He hooked up with a Kansas infantry, and after the war, headed off into the back country to hunt, trap, and serve as a guide. He found himself at Fort Lincoln in 1873 where he met George Armstrong Custer. In hindsight, it was the worst thing that ever happened to him. The two hit it off and Reynolds served under Custer in the years forward. Reynolds had gained a reputation as the best guide in the territory. He served with Custer during the Black Hills campaign and was the one Custer trusted to make the 150-mile journey back to Fort Laramie to report the discovery of gold. Of course, Reynolds would serve with Custer at Little Big Horn. The night before the battle, he became despondent, had a premonition he would not survive, and gave his personal items away. He told Custer that the Indian village he had spotted was the largest he had ever seen, but Custer was undeterred. Reynolds was not with Custer for the unhappy finale, but was serving with Major Reno. Unfortunately, he suffered the same fate as Custer did that day. Item 68 is Charley Reynolds Soldier, Hunter, Scout and Guide, by John Remsburg, published in 1931. Priced at $375.


Here is a man who had no problems with self-promotion and exaggeration. Buffalo Bill turned his skills as a guide and buffalo hunter into becoming one of the greatest showmen the world has ever seen. He created his famous Wild West show, which toured first eastern America and later Europe. It purported to display life in the Wild West. It was an exaggerated caricaturization of the West, but audiences loved it. It is much responsible for images we have of the Old West today. Item 38 is Four Years in Europe with Buffalo Bill, by Charles Eldridge Griffin, published in 1908. It recounts Buffalo Bill's European tour from 1903-1906. While his name is not familiar, Griffin was something of a character himself. He worked in circuses and side shows doing all sorts of magic acts – ventriloquist, sword swallower, fire-eater, hypnotist, contortionist and such, along with non-sideshow positions such as newspaper owner, publisher, and author. His wife was a snake charmer. He was hired in 1902 to perform in Bill's shows, but by 1904, he had become manager of the European tour. $325.


As long as we are describing people with large egos, how about Charles King Polk Wells? His story is told in Life and Adventures of Polk Wells, The Notorious Outlaw Whose Acts of Fearlessness and Chivalry Kept the Frontier Trails Afire with Excitement, and whose Robberies and other Depredations in the Platte Purchase and Elsewhere, have been a Most Frequent Discussion to this Day... If someone else had written this book and title, as was the case with Reynolds, it would not sound so egotistical, but this book was written by Polk Wells himself. As the Preface says, "The expressions of but a single man may change a whole epoch of history." That is true, but Polk was not such a man. Nor is he a topic of frequent discussion today, though perhaps he was in 1907, when this book was published, or at least before he died in 1893. After the Civil War, Polk became an Indian fighter on the frontier. Twice he was captured by them, twice he escaped. He was friendly with some of the characters whose names you do remember – Kit Carson and Wild Bill Hickok. In 1872, he married, but went off to the wilds again. When he returned, he found his wife living with another man. Polk was understanding, even gave him some money. She would marry the man after her husband died. He must have appreciated Polk's generosity as he was the one who published his self-aggrandizing work. Unfortunately, by 1879, Polk Wells had turned to a life of crime. He robbed trains and banks and got away with it for a while, but not forever. He was sent to prison, attempted an escape, but killed a guard. That just assured he would never be freed. His book, in which Wells describes himself as something or a Robin Hood type, was viewed by contemporaries as self-serving, likely an attempt to secure a pardon which never came. Item 89. $125.


John Beeson was one of those people ahead of his time. Born in England, he emigrated to upstate New York, then Illinois, and finally, in 1853, he and his wife walked to Oregon. Beeson was an abolitionist, his farm serving as a stop on the Underground Railroad. When he got to Oregon, he took up the cause of another maltreated people, America's natives. His advocacy angered other Oregon settlers, so much so that he was forced to go to California for his safety. His wife and child stayed behind, and it didn't make for the best family relations when he sailed east in 1856. However, Beeson had a cause, and Easterners were far more sympathetic to the plight of the Indians than were the Oregon settlers who were fighting them. For several years, he traveled around the East lecturing on how the Indians were mistreated. He even met with President Lincoln, whom he knew from their Illinois days. In 1857, he issued this account, A Plea for the Indians; with Facts and Features of the Late War in Oregon. Item 9 is a copy of the third edition, published in 1858. $375.


Next up is The History of Kansas City... by W. H. Miller. This would not be a complete history today. Kansas City was not yet 50 years old when this book was published in 1881. Still, a lot of history had already transpired. Old West Books notes, it contains "Information on early expeditions, fur companies, the Santa Fe trade, Indian trade and removal, founding of Kansas City, the railroads, the Civil War, slavery, bush-whackers and Red Legs, Quantrell, etc." Kansas City was obviously a very different place in the 19th century. Item 59. $1,200.


Old West Books may be reached at 719-260-6030 or oldwestbooks@earthlink.net. Their website is www.oldwestbooks.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 7. Ritter's unusual sun-dial world map, 1607. Est. $3500 to $4500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 16. Fascinating Japanese satirical map published prior to WWII, 1932. Est. $1400 to $2000
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 30. Newton's 2" miniature terrestrial globe, 1833. Est. $3500 to $4500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 318. Braun & Hogenberg's first plan of Moscow in contemporary color, 1575. Est. $2750 to $3500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 346. One of the most decorative 18th century maps of Malta, 1680. Est. $1200 to $1500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 412. The first printed map devoted to the Pacific in full contemporary color, 1589. Est. $8000 to $10000
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 425. Rare set of celebrated explorers of the New World, 1592. Est. $1900 to $2300
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 436. Two superb miniature atlases bound in one volume with 98 maps, 1682. Est. $5500 to $7500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 445. Part IV of de Bry's "Grand Voyages" by Girolamo Benzoni, 1613. Est. $2000 to $2500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 447. Tallis' "History of the United States of America" in six volumes, 1850. Est. $1500 to $1800
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 448. Mallet's miniature military masterpiece, 1672. Est. $1400 to $1700
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Malcolm X, Autograph Letter Signed, from prison, 1950. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Letter from Moses Walker, an enslaved Georgia man, to his mother at another plantation, 1854. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Signed cabinet card of Frederick Douglass, albumen photograph, Boston, circa 1879. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Placard from the Memphis Sanitation Worker's strike, 1968. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b><br><i>The North Star,</i> volume 1, issue 27, Rochester, NY, 1848. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Hand-tinted tintype of John Brown, circa 1860. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster signed & inscribed by Huey Newton, circa 1967. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Album of aerial views of the march on Montgomery, taken by federal troops, 1965. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster for the SNCC, photograph by Danny Lyon featuring John Lewis, circa 1962. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <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>
  • <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

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