Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2017 Issue

Best of the West from the William Reese Company


The Best of the West.

The William Reese Company has published their 348th catalogue, Best of the West. That is, not coincidentally, the same name as that of a bibliography of the West that Reese published last year. That bibliography of 250 books, dating back as far as early Spanish explorations, covers what Reese describes as "key items for a comprehensive collection of Western Americana." The items in this catalogue are taken from this bibliography, either primary entries or books mentioned in the notes. They are significant items for those who collect the American West. Here are a few.


This book is the first account of the first American-owned settlement on the west coast. It didn't last for long. Gabriel Franchere was among those who sailed from the east coast around Cape Horn to open the American fur-trading settlement at the mouth of the Columbia – Astoria. It was the idea of wealthy American businessman John Jacob Astor. Settled in 1811, it was a primitive fort, a dull place to be. With the War of 1812, Astor no longer was confident he could defend the fort from the British if necessary. Ownership of Oregon was still under dispute. Franchere also provides the first account of the overland journey back east after Astoria was sold to the Canadian fur-trading Northwest Company. He returned through Canada to Montreal, where this first account (in French) was published in 1820. The title is, Relation d'un Voyage a la Cote du Nord-Ouest de l'Amerique Septentrionale, dans les Annees 1810, 11, 12, 13, et 14. Item 47. Priced at $6,500.


Forty years later, the Oregon Territory (including today's Washington State) had been ceded by treaty from Britain to America, and California had been seized from Mexico during the Mexican War. Here is a look at California during its period of transition. William Redmond Ryan also sailed around the Horn, heading to California to fight with New York volunteers during the war. With the war soon ending, he sought "relief from the monotony of civilized life, in a more congenial and adventurous existence amidst the wilds and mountains of California." He spent some time digging for gold, but found trading goods, arms in particular, a more lucrative enterprise. Ryan provides a detailed account of his sea journey and time in California along with a geographical description of the land. Howes states, "Both text and illustrations are among the best of the period." Ryan's book is Personal Adventures in Upper and Lower California, in 1848-9, with the Author's Experience at the Mines... published in London in 1850. Item 134. $2,500.


The discovery of gold quickly brought fortune seekers to California, soon followed by other settlers. However, the journey overland was treacherous, and finding your way a challenge in the days before AAA guide books and GPS. According to Howes, this was the "best handbook for the central route available at the time." Published in 1852, item 67 is Horn's Overland Guide, From the U.S. Indian Sub-Agency, Council Bluffs, on the Missouri River, to the City of Sacramento, In California; Containing a Table of Distances...With a Complete and Accurate Map. Hosea B. Horn knew the journey well. The map not only shows the primary route, but the various cut-offs, which Horn had also traveled. This guide was unusual and particularly helpful as Horn provided distances and descriptions along the route. $7,500.


Next is a very rare account (second rarest early Colorado imprint according to Howes) of events that led to the removal of the Ute Indians from their lands in Colorado. The Indian agent in the area, Nathan Meeker, made demands of the Utes on their territory, which led to a confrontation. Meeker called for reinforcements. The Utes attacked, killing Meeker and ten others, taking his wife, child, and a few more women hostages. Troops came from Wyoming, and some of them were killed in battle. That provided Congress with the "justification" to do what Colorado settlers had been demanding all along – removal of the Utes, the last Indians still permitted to live in Colorado, out of the state. They were forced from their homeland to eastern Utah. Item 34 is an account (from the white man's perspective) of the incident by Thomas F. Dawson and F. J. V. Skiff: The Ute War: A History of the White River Massacre and the Privations and Hardships of the Captive White Women Among the Hostiles on Grand River, published in 1879. $4,000.


Here is a very detailed look at America's Indians as of the mid-19th century. Published in six volumes from 1851-1856, item 137 is Henry Schoolcraft's Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States. Schoolcraft was noted as an explorer, being the first to find the headwaters of the Mississippi. He spent much time with the natives, providing him with both first-hand knowledge plus much gathered through research. This work was created through the direction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Field, in his Indian bibliography, was highly critical of Schoolcraft's learning and scientific education, not to mention his presentation, but goes on to say, "badly arranged, and selected as it is, the work contains a vast mass of really valuable material. It has indeed performed a very important service for Indian history, in collecting and preserving an immense amount of historic data. Vocabularies of Indian languages, grammatical analyses, legends of various tribes, biographies of chiefs and warriors, narratives of captivities, histories of Indian wars, emigrations, and theories of their origin, are all related and blended in an extraordinary and perplexing manner. A very large number of beautiful steel engravings, representative of some phase of Indian life and customs, are contained in the work, but the most valuable of its illustrations are the drawings of weapons, domestic utensils, instruments of gaming and amusement, sorcery and medicine, objects of worship, their sculptures, paintings, and fortifications, pictograph writing, dwellings, and every form of antiquities, which have been discovered." It doesn't sound like he missed anything. $14,500.


The William Reese Company may be reached at 203-789-8081 or amorder@reeseco.com. Their website is www.williamreesecompany.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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