Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2010 Issue

The American West from Old West Books

Oldwest28

The latest tales from the Old West.


By Michael Stillman

Old West Books has just issued their 28th catalogue of Rare, Out of Print Books on the American West. Old West notes that among the topics of this group are Custer, cattle, the fur trade, outlaws, and Indian wars. That is more by way of example than limitation, as anything about the Old West may be found. If it happened across the Mississippi during the 19th, maybe early 20th century, it is fair game for an Old West catalogue. Here are a few from this time around.

America's Indians did not have a lot of positive press in the 19th century. Indeed, there are several such books within this catalogue whose titles refer to them as "savages." Once these people were labeled as "savages," it became easy to mistreat them, take their land. In 1879, Helen Hunt Jackson heard an Indian Chief speak of his people's troubles, and she was outraged. Changing government policies toward the natives became the overriding goal of the remainder of her life. She managed to find a few sympathetic newspaper publishers who would print her articles about mistreatment of the Indians. Then, in 1881, she published this book: A Century of Dishonor. It recounts the land confiscation and forced removal of several tribes. Mrs. Jackson sent a copy of it to every member of Congress. It helped a little, but only minimally. America was not yet ready to confront its treatment of the Indians, since the process of removal to free up lands for whites was still ongoing at the time. A couple of years later, she published a novel which became hugely successful, Ramona. It told the story of a half-Indian girl and the prejudices she and her Indian husband faced. Ms. Jackson was most interested in getting across the message of the suffering of California's Indians, though the success of this book was based more on it being a romance than a social narrative. Ms. Jackson had more books planned, including one intended to bring her message to children, but she died in 1885 before she could write any more. Item 26. $750.

Item 88 is a biography of a man, oddly enough by the person who killed him. Sheriff Pat Garrett shot an apparently unarmed Billy the Kid off guard in a dark bedroom. The Kid was not much known outside of New Mexico at the time, though he probably did kill half a dozen to a dozen men along the way. However, it was Garrett who made Billy a sensation, though his aim was not so much to promote the outlaw. It was to promote himself, and Garrett had to aggrandize The Kid's reputation so that he could be seen as a great hero for killing him. Garrett had the book published in 1882, and that was the only edition printed during his lifetime. Item 88 is a copy of the second edition of The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid, the Noted Desperado, not published until 1927. This edition was edited by Maurice Fulton, who attempted to make it a bit more authentic than Garrett's original version. $375.

Item 23 is a very rare Custer related item, a "correction" as it were to his famous Life on the Plains. This book is entitled Some Corrections of Life on the Plains, by General William B. Hazen. Hazen had served honorably during the Civil War, and then headed out west, where he was serving as an Indian Agent at the time of the Battle of the Washita (or, perhaps more accurately, the massacre). General George Armstrong Custer had overwhelmed an Indian village, and wished to continue with wiping out the Kiowa Indians, whom Custer claimed were among those combating the U.S. military. Hazen had prevented this action, saying the Kiowas were not hostile. Custer had attacked Hazen in his book, and this very rare pamphlet was Hazen's reply. $8,500.

Item 45 is Daniel Blue's Thrilling Narratives of the Adventures, Sufferings and Starvation of Pike's Peak Gold Seekers on the Plains of the West in the Winter and Spring of 1859. Old West informs us, "Blue's narrative is perhaps more horrifying to the modern reader than thrilling." This is a 1987 reprint of the unobtainable 1860 first edition, of which only three copies are known. Blue and his two brothers set out from Illinois with a small group in hopes of reaching the gold fields of Pike's Peak. They traveled with another group for a while, but after a dispute they separated. Blue's party became hopelessly lost. It was winter, they lost their only horse, weather was terrible, and finally, provisions ran out. Daniel was forced to resort to the ultimate horror as his brothers died. He had to eat their bodies to survive, though noting it had been with their consent and insistence. He was found in a state of dementia by an Arapahoe Indian and saved, to return home, never to wander again. $20.

Speaking of cannibalism, item 100 is The Expedition of the Donner Party and Its Tragic Fate. The author is Eliza Houghton, the daughter of George and Tamsen Donner. She was their youngest daughter, just four years old at the time of the tragic journey that took the lives of her parents in 1847. Eliza was rescued and went on to write this book many years later (published in 1911), and lived until 1922. In this book, she tells of her family's life before the journey, the tragedy of that trip and her rescue, and then about her life later on and the impact of the Gold Rush on California. $300.

Old West Books may be reached at 719-260-6030 or oldwestbooks@earthlink.net. Their website is www.oldwestbooks.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Frances Palmer, <i>Battle of Buena Vista,</i> chromolithograph, New York, 1847. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, the earliest publication concerned solely with chocolate, first edition, Madrid, 1631. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Romans Bernard, <i>An Exact View of the Late Battle at Charlestown, June 17th, 1775,</i> engraving, 1776. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> <i>A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston,</i> English edition, London, 1770. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> William Soule, <i>Lodge of the Plains Indians,</i> albumen print, 1872. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Manuscript document to enforce New York’s “Agreement of Non-Importation” during the heyday of the Sons of Liberty, New York, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Clarence Mackenzie, <i>Drummer Boy of the 13th Regiment of Brooklyn,</i> salt print with applied color, 1861. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Moses Lopez, <i>A Lunar Calendar,</i> first Jewish calendar published in America, Newport, RI, 1806. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b><br>The Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <center><b>Gonnelli Auction House<br>Books and Graphics<br>19th, 20th and 21st April 2021</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br>Atlases and Maps</b
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br> Veneto and Venice, a Selection of Books from the XVI to XX century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br></b>Rossini Gioachino, Baguette de chef d'orchestre appartenuta a Gioachino Rossini, dono del Comune di Passy. 1500 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Manetti Saverio, Storia naturale degli uccelli trattata con metodo. Cinque volumi. 1767. 18.000 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Poe Edgar Allan, Double assassinat dans la rue morgue. Illustrations de Cura. 1946.
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
  • <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 54. Fanciful engraving of earth's interior with magma core and errupting volcanoes (1682). $1500 to $1800.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 165. Rare state of Jefferys' influential map of New England in contemporary color (1755). $8000 to $9500.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 177. Mouzon's foundation map of the Carolinas (1775). $10000 to $13000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 183. Very rare first state of De Fer's map of the Lower Mississippi Valley (1715). $20000 to $25000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 253. Scarce Scottish edition based on Ellicott's plan of Washington, D.C. (1796). $2400 to $3000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 313. Stunning view of Philadelphia by John Bachmann (1850). $3250 to $4250.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 338. Rare Civil War map based on Bucholtz map of Virginia (1862). $9500 to $12000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 667. First map to accurately show Luzon in Philippines (1590). $6000 to $7500.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 682. Rare map of Shanghai International Settlement published just after WWI (1918). $7000 to $9000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 738. Coronelli's superb map of the Pacific showing the Island of California (1697) Est. $2400 - $3000
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 743. A cornerstone piece in the mapping of Australia and New Zealand (1726) Est. $6000 - $7500
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 781. An uncommon signature during Jefferson's Governorship of Virginia (1779) Est. $9500 - $11000
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Ronald Reagan. Series of 37 letters to Senator George Murphy, and related material, 1968-90. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Chaim Weizmann. Autograph letter signed, to General Sir Gilbert Clayton, 6 September 1918. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Sir Winston Churchill. Autograph letter signed, to Pamela, Lady Lytton, 1942. £20,000 to $30,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Oscar Wilde. Five autograph letters signed, to Alsager Vian, 1887. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Napoleon I. Letter signed to Admiral Ganteaume, ordering the invasion of England, 22 August 1805. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Horatio, Viscount Nelson, and Emma Hamilton. Two autograph letter signed, to Catherine and George Matcham, 1805. £6,000 to £8,000.

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