Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2009 Issue

Old Western Books from...Old West Books

Oldwest24

Old books from Old West Books.


By Michael Stillman

Old West Books of Colorado Springs has issued Catalog 24 of Rare, Out of Print Books on the American West. If the name, but not the location sounds familiar, this is the same Old West Books previously located in Arlington, Texas. This move is appropriate, as Colorado Springs is farther west, and Arlington, in the middle of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, is definitely New West. From their door, Old West can undoubtedly see Pike's Peak, gateway to America's first southwestern exploration, and a perfect starting point for the items inside this catalogue.

Zebulon Pike made it to Colorado Springs two centuries ahead of Old West Books, which is why the nearby mountain was named "Pike's Peak." After an unsuccessful attempt to find the source of the Mississippi, Zebulon Pike turned west. His explorations, though not as thorough or well-planned, were something of a Southwestern equivalent of Lewis and Clark's journey into the Northwest. He discovered the peak which bears his name, along with much else about the territory, but ended up being imprisoned for a while by the Spanish. At the time, today's Colorado was a border state with Mexico, and Pike journeyed a bit too far south for the always suspicious Spanish to tolerate. Item 158 is Pike's Exploratory Travels Through the Western Territories of North America... This is the 1811 London edition, generated from a manuscript prior to the release of the American edition. As a result, the arrangement of this edition differs from the American, and numerous corrections in grammar have been made. Item 158. Priced at $6,750.

Billy the Kid is one of those legendary names from the Old West, a man loyal to his friends and most adept with a gun. The Kid worked a few ranch hand types of jobs and later shifted to the business of small-time cattle rustler. However, it would be in New Mexico's Lincoln County War that he would make a name. When a friend and ally was gunned down in cold blood, Billy sought revenge. Something between 4 and 21 men (probably closer to the low end) died on the other side of Billy's gun before Sheriff Pat Garrett shot down the supposedly personable and loyal gunslinger. Still, Billy never gained that much notoriety during his lifetime, his legend, with some help from Garrett, being built after he died. The legendary status was sealed by the ultimate recognition in the years ahead - claims that he was still alive. Like Jesse James and Butch Cassidy, people showed up many years later claiming to be an aged Billy. One such man was Brushy Bill Roberts of Hico, Texas. Toward the end of his life, Roberts "admitted" to being the Kid, saying that he wanted an official pardon from the Governor of New Mexico. His story is recounted by C.L. Sonnichsen and William V. Morrison (the latter extensively interviewed Roberts) in Alias Billy the Kid. I Wanted to Die a Free Man, published in 1955. Roberts died in 1950, a year after he was discovered, and almost 70 years after Billy was believed to have died. Roberts evidently had much in common with Billy, including knowledge of very obscure events and scars on his body. Some who knew Billy many years earlier also identified him as the same. However, there were also some serious discrepancies, including Billy's literacy and fluency in Spanish, which Roberts lacked, and the fact that Billy would not likely consent to disappear, nor would Garrett likely risk the embarrassment of being discovered a fraud if he claimed to have killed Billy, only to have the latter reappear. You decide. Item 117. $40.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <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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