Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2010 Issue

Books of Western Americana and More from Back of Beyond Books

Backbeyond1

Catalogue #1 from Back of Beyond Books.


By Michael Stillman

We have received Rare Book Catalogue #1 from Moab, Utah, bookseller Back of Beyond Books. Located in lightly populated southeastern Utah, a place perhaps better known for spectacular scenery, national parks, and mountain biking than books, Back of Beyond Books lists its specialties as Western Americana, Native Americana, Edward Abbey and Friends, Modern Firsts and Miscellaneous. They have been selling new books with a western orientation since 1990, but only opened a rare and antiquarian department in 2005. Moab is a center for exploring the West, from the popular Arches National Park to the obscure Canyonlands, from the Colorado River to desert landscapes to tall mountains, from fading ghost towns to millennium and older Indian petroglyphs, to ancient dinosaur quarries, it's all here. Now you can find the books about these wondrous sights here too. Here, now, are a few of these books.

Item 4 is a classic work of western exploration, Canyons of the Colorado, by John Wesley Powell. Powell's expedition of 1869 was the first to truly conquer the Colorado River, the first boat trip down the Green and Colorado Rivers and through the Grand Canyon. This account was published in a small run on a private press in Meadville in 1895. While Powell had published scientific reports many years earlier, this was his first complete account of this pioneering journey. Priced at $10,500.

Item 7 provides a caveat to the claims made above. Prospector James White claimed to be the first to ride the Colorado through the Grand Canyon, two years prior to Powell. Robert Brewster Stanton, the second (or third) to make such a trip interviewed White in his later years and prepared a manuscript about the latter's claim. It was published in 1932, ten years after Stanton's death, under the title Colorado River Controversies. Stanton concluded, as have most historians, that White's raft did not pass through the Grand Canyon. $1,200.

While Powell was probably the first to ride through the Grand Canyon by boat, other European-Americans had visited the site earlier. Item 22 is the Report Upon the Colorado River of the West by Lieutenant Joseph C. Ives, published by the Government Printing Office in 1861. Ives describes the river, the Grand Canyon, and the natives who inhabited the area. However, Ives was looking at the land from a practical rather than scenic viewpoint, so he concluded it was of little value. $1,200.

There is some serious climbing to be accomplished in the mountains of the American West, but nothing like this: Conquest of Everest. This is expedition leader Sir John Hunt's account of the 1952 climb that finally conquered the world tallest mountain, after years and many unsuccessful attempts. This first edition was published in 1954. The book includes Sir Edmund Hillary's account of the final ascent, where he and Tenzing Norgay became the first two people to reach the peak. This copy has been signed by Hillary and George Lowe, another participant in the expedition. Item 53. $1,200.

Item 40 is Edward Abbey's most famous work, The Monkey Wrench Gang. Abbey was an ardent environmentalist, though one who would be hard to pin down by today's political standards. He was virulently anti-government. He shared the NRA's intense belief in the right to private ownership of guns, though he had little respect for most hunters. He saw guns as a means of individuals protecting themselves from the government. With all of his passionate support for environmentalism, he had no problem with littering along the highways. To Abbey, the highways themselves were the real eyesore, not the litter. You might think today he would be a Tea Partier, but Abbey was equally zealous in his opposition to big business. He loved the natural landscapes of the west, and nothing angered him more than seeing it despoiled by industry, or anyone else for that matter. The Monkey Wrench Gang is a fictional account of what some might consider eco-terrorism, an odd assortment of individuals who attack the means of destroying the environment, such as heavy equipment. Abbey particularly targets the Glen Canyon Dam, constructed on the Colorado River just south of the Arizona-Utah border. It created Lake Powell, an enormous unnatural desert lake and favorite among boaters and other tourists in southern Utah, but which submerged much of Glen Canyon, a stunningly beautiful river canyon and one of the last areas of the lower 48 states fully explored. Abbey's preferences with regard to this controversial dam, which some would still like to see removed, are obvious. $2,000.

Back of Beyond Books may be reached at 435-259-5154 or andy@backofbeyondbooks.com. Their website is found at www.backofbeyondbooks.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on 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. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <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. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on 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. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500
  • <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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