Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2007 Issue

Books on the American West from Old West Books

Old18

The latest catalogue from Old West Books, looking rather aged itself.


By Michael Stillman

It is a land of legends, one that ceaselessly fascinates us though time has smoothed its rough edges. We have received Catalog 18 from Old West Books, Rare, Out of Print Books on the American West. The catalogue is divided into five sections: Custer; Cowboys, Cattle Trade, Wild West; Gunmen, Outlaws, Lawmen; Fur Trade; and Military/Indian Wars. The overwhelming majority of this material concerns events that took place in the 19th century, though the books themselves are a mix of contemporary publications with more recent retrospectives. In many instances, Old West also maintains reprints of older books for those interested more in reading than collecting. If you are an aficionado of the American West, and it is hard to imagine anyone not so being, you will want to see this catalogue. Now we have a few samples from its pages.

Item 148 is one of the classics of the west, noted for its suppression by wealthy cattle interests. This is Banditti of the Plains or the Cattlemen's Invasion of Wyoming in 1892 by Asa Mercer. This recounts the Johnson County War when wealthy ranchers and their hired guns from Texas set upon their smaller competitors. Their claim was cattle rustling, although it appears that the large ranchers required little evidence before shooting and lynching the small-time operators. Mercer had come to Wyoming to publish a journal on behalf of the large cattlemen's association, but as he witnessed their suppression of small settlers, he turned his pen against his bosses. In 1894, he published this expose, which the wealthy cattlemen, in control of the government, promptly had banned and destroyed. Mercer's printing office was consumed by fire. However, a fair number of copies of his book were secreted away, so that while it is scarce, there are occasional copies to be found. Here is one. Priced at $5,900.

Everyone one knows about the famed Oregon Trail, on which settlers moved from east to west during the 1840s to the 1860s. The opening of the transcontinental railroad ended any need for this torturous route. However, there was a second Oregon Trail, used during the 1870s and 1880s. On this one, traffic flowed west to east, and most of the travelers were cattle, not humans. By this time, cattle were being raised in Oregon, but they needed to be moved overland to Wyoming for further shipment east. Some 100,000 head are said to have been herded along the trail during this period. This story is told by Charles Steedman in Bucking the Sagebrush or the Oregon Trail in the Seventies. This 1904 book is primarily focused on cattle drives in 1878. It is illustrated by noted western artist Charles Russell. Item 165. $925.

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 Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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