By Michael Stillman
We have received out first catalogue from High Ridge Books of Rye, New York: Catalogue 56. Fine and Rare Books. Americana, County and General Atlases, City Directories, Colorplate Books, Travel, etc. Offered are 250 collectible works in the field of Americana, primarily from the 19th century. Collectors of local areas will find a wealth of possibilities in the many atlases and directories of cities, counties and states. There is also a good selection of railroad items pertaining to regional railways. As these are targeted to very specific communities, we won't describe any of these in particular other than to note there are a great many available. We will look specifically at books that cover a wider physical territory, though they may still pertain to a particular collecting niche. Here are some examples of the types of books available from High Ridge Books.
For a look, quite literally, at America in 1840, Item 41 is N.P. Willis' American Scenery, a two-volume work published in London. There are 117 plates in this set along with a map, depicting America in the first half of the 19th century. Priced at $1,500.
Emeline Fuller got to see some fantastic American scenery on an overland trip from Wisconsin to Walla Walla in 1860. She didn't enjoy it. Her account is Left By The Indians, not published until 1892, and Howes describes the journey as, "Among overland disasters, equaled in horror only by that of the Donner party; cannibalism was resorted to in both cases." Of the 54 members of the Utter-Myers party who left Wisconsin, only 15 survived. Ms. Fuller recounts being forced to eat the flesh of even her own sisters after being attacked by Indians with the survivors left to starve. Item 126. $750.
Item 58 is a very early and very rare, perhaps only extent copy, of an important baseball book: The Base Ball Player's Pocket Companion: Containing Rules and Regulations for Forming Clubs...Third Edition. High Ridge describes this as "a previously unknown issue of the second edition (though styled Third Edition on the title page) of the first work dedicated to baseball outside of by-laws for baseball clubs." The first edition was published in 1859 in Boston (the standard second also bears a Boston imprint). However, this edition, dated 1860, carries a New York imprint and was issued by C.F.A. Hinrichs, a New York sporting goods seller at 150 Broadway at Liberty. It contains a leaf, unknown in other copies, of goods for sale by Hinrichs, primarily for cricket but including some baseball items. This book supplies rules for both the "Massachusetts Game" and "New York Game," and High Ridge notes that this makes this unique New York copy particularly interesting as the game evolved primarily following the New York rules. $20,000.
Item 225 is an early land grant in Texas made out to an American, one H.A. Green of New York. This document is headed Dominguez Grant and is dated November 11, 1831. John Dominguez was granted the right to bring in 200 settlers from America and Europe by Mexican authorities in 1829. However, his land was not located near the eventually rebellious Stephen Austin colony at San Antonio, but in northern Texas, in the area where the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles and today's Colorado converge. It would not have been easy land to farm. Dominguez was unsuccessful in bringing in the requisite colonists and his grant to sell this land expired in 1835, just as the Texas settlers to the south were rebelling. This grant is for a labor of land, approximately 177 acres. $2,750.