Clark Rare Books is Back with more Western Americana
By Michael Stillman
After almost a year's absence we welcome back the new, yet very old, Clark Rare Books to the realm of book cataloguers. Clark Rare Books is the successor to the Arthur H. Clark Company, which sold and published books for over a century. Last year, the two businesses were divided, the publishing arm being taken over by the University of Oklahoma Press. They will continue publishing books under the Arthur H. Clark name. Meanwhile, the bookselling arm, which also moved from Spokane, Washington, to Norman, Oklahoma, has resumed business under the Clark Rare Books name. Both businesses will be managed by the Clarks. Despite the slight name change, the numbering sequence will remain the same, so this latest edition is numbered Catalog 930. Perhaps in another century, they will change their name yet again.
The subject of this catalogue, as with previous ones, is Americana, The West, and General. I think perhaps there is a slight shift in the ratio of titles from the Northwest to the Southwest, but Clark remains a repository of books from throughout the American West. Here are a few of the titles available in the first catalogue of 2007 from the new Clark Rare Books.
Elizabeth Custer outlived her husband George, of Last Stand fame, by 57 years. She spent most of that time preserving (and, perhaps, enhancing) his legend. For whatever their shortcomings, the two were totally devoted to each other, and Libby never remarried, though she lived to be almost 92. Tenting on the Plains or General Custer in Kansas and Texas was one of the three books she wrote that helped build her husband's legacy. It served to raise his reputation from bumbling incompetence to that of a courageous leader, fighting to the last man. Item 95 is an 1889 second edition (after the first of 1887) of Elizabeth Custer's book. Priced at $135.
There aren't many inexpensive items of Texaiana from the Republic period, but here's one: Message from the President...upon the subject of relations between the United States and the Republic of Texas. This 1842 Tyler administration document concerns trade between the U.S. and the independent republic that would become a new state in 1845. Item 244. $45.
Item 253 is a western settlers' guide that includes Texas, but from its pre-republic days. In fact, it predates even an independent Mexico. The guide is entitled Geographical Sketches on the Western Country: designed for emigrants and settlers... by Edmund Dana. The year was 1819, but this guide managed to cover areas that were far west at the time -- Missouri, Louisiana, Arkansas, and even "the country watered by the Columbia and its tributary streams." Even Texas is covered, though at the time it was still a colony of Spain. $950.