Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2010 Issue

The Great West Illustrated from the William Reese Company

Ansel Adams photograph on cover of Reese's catalogue.


By Michael Stillman

The William Reese Company has issued Bulletin 17. The Great West Illustrated. For two centuries, since the journey of Lewis and Clark, this land of the wild frontier has fascinated Americans, and peoples across the oceans, like no other. Europeans first settled the eastern part of North America two centuries earlier, but we never see a catalogue of the Great East, the American East, or the Old East. The West lives in our imaginations like no other land - unknown, untamed, a land without boundaries. In this catalogue, Reese offers us illustrations or illustrated works of the West when it was still young and barely explored. Some of these images are realistic, others fanciful, but they all fit well with our images and imaginations of the Old West.

Item 21 brings us to the time when the West really captured America's interest, when President Jefferson sent Captains Lewis and Clark out to explore the far reaches of the new territory known as Louisiana, recently purchased from France. They left in 1804 and returned in 1806, but it was not until six years later that their official account was finally released to the public. Meanwhile, one of their company, Sergeant Patrick Gass, released his own account, Journal of the Voyages and Travels of a Corps of Discovery, under the Command of Capt. Lewis and Capt. Clarke [sic]… Gass originally released his book the year after their return, in 1807. Here offered is the third American edition from 1811, and unlike the first, this edition is illustrated. These drawings were based on observations by one of the party's members, and as such are the only extant illustrations from the journey. It provides images of Indians encountered, hostile and friendly, plus the scenery observed. Priced at $7,500.

What you see on the cover of this catalogue is an image from Ansel Adams' first portfolio of photographs, Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras, published in 1927. These photographs were taken at Yosemite and the Sierras. Adams had published photographic prints as early as 1921, but it was this portfolio that began to gain for Adams the recognition that would one day lead him to be considered America's foremost western photographer. Adams contracted for 150 portfolios to be produced, but more likely around 100 were completed, and perhaps 75 survived as several were lost in a fire. $110,000.

Next we have a set of western artwork of a very different sort. Item 30 is a collection of 71 original watercolors created as covers for the English series Buffalo Bill Novels. As noted earlier, the appeal of the American West is not limited to Americans. This magazine was published for boys in England from 1918-1932. Presumably, this must have been commissioned by his estate, as William Cody died in 1917. Not all of the stories were about Bill, but many of them were, and his image graces many of these paintings. This is a young looking Bill, from the days when he actually did roam the West, rather than the many more years he traveled other territory with his Wild West show. Cody certainly painted an exaggerated picture of the Old West, and these stories were similar exaggerations if not outright fabrications, but for a few years, Buffalo Bill actually did lead a life at least somewhat resembling the dramatic portrayals he spent most of his life displaying to Easterners and Europeans. $55,000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s, June 26: Poe, Edgar Allan. Tamerlane — the most poignant rarity in American literature. 400,000 - 600,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: The Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." 2,500,000 - 5,000,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: William Blake. “Poems with very wild and interesting pictures” 1,200,000 - 1,800,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: Thomas Taylor [artist]. The original cover art for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. 400,000 - 600,000 USD
  • Bonhams, June 15-25: 18th Century American Sea Captain's Journals of Voyages to Hawaii, China, and South America. $35,000 - $45,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Admiral Richard E. Byrd's Autograph Diary from Bolling Advance Base, Winter 1934. $40,000 - $60,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Thoreau, Henry David. Walden; Or, Life in the Woods. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1854. $4,000 - $6,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Cellarius, Andreas. Harmonia macrocosmica seu atlas universalis et novus, totius universi creati cosmographiam generalem, et novam exhibens. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Nobelist George Stigler's Copy of Ricardo's Classic on the Science of Economics. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Histoire charmante de l'adolescente sucre d'amour. Paris: F. L. Schmied, 1927. $15,000 - $20,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Fine Copy of Walras's Classic on the Theory of Marginal Utility. $12,000 - $18,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Arion Press Moby Dick. Melville, Herman. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Venegas, Miguel. Noticia de la California, y desu conquista temporal, y espiritual hasta el tiempo presente. $7,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Carelton Watkins, Yosemite and the West. Portfolio of 21 imperial albumen prints. $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: An Unpublished Archive of Thornton Wilder Correspondence to F.J. O'Neil. $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Vesalius, Andreas. 1514-1564. Suorum de humani corporis fabrica librorum epitome. $100,000 - $150,000
  • Bonhams, June 25: Vesalius, Andreas. 1514-1564. De humani corporis fabrica libri septem. $200,000 - $300,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Gersdorff, Hans Von. 1455-1529. Feldtbuch der wundartzney. $40,000 - $60,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Pare, Ambroise. C.1509-1590. La Methode Curative des Playes, et Fractures de la Teste humaine. Avec les pourtraits des Instruments necessaires pour la curation d'icelles. $25,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Reisch, Gregor. 1470-1525. Margarita Philosophica. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bright, Richard. 1789-1858. Reports of Medical Cases, Selected with a View of Illustrating the Symptoms and Cure of Diseases by a Reference to Morbid Anatomy. $12,000 - $18,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Berengario da Carpi, Giacomo. C. 1460-1530. Tractatus de fractura calve sive cranei. $10,000 - $15,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Vicq D'Azyr, Felix. 1748-1794. Traite d'antomie et de physiologie. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Croce, Giovanni Andrea Della. 1509?-1775. Chirurgia libri septem... $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bruno Da Longburgo. 1200-1286. La cyrogia di Maistro Bruno: Expertissimo in quella. Tradutta in vulgare. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Schwann, Theodor. 1810-1882. Mikroskopische Untersuchungen uber die Ubereinstimmung in der Struktur und dem Wachsthum der Thiere und Pflanzen. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Cowper, William. 1666-1709. The Anatomy of Humane Bodies, with Figures Drawn after the Life… $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bidloo, Govard. 1649-1713. Anatomia humani corporis, centum & quinque tabulis, per artificiossis. G. de Lairesse ad vivum delineatis. $6,000 - $9,000
  • Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Keats, John] Spenser, Edmund: The Works of that Famous English Poet, Mr. Edmond Spenser. $50,000 - $80,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: (Walton, Izaak): The Compleat Angler or the Contemplative man's Recreation. Being a Discourse of Fish and Fishing. $30,000 - $50,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: Thomas, Gabriel: An Historical and Geographical Account of the Province and Country of Pensilvania; and of West-New-Jersey in America. $25,000 - $35,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Carroll, Lewis]: The Game of Alice in Wonderland. $2,000 - $3,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: Athias, Joseph, et al.: Biblia Hebraica. $7,000 - $10,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Warhol, Andy, and Jens Quistgaard] Dansk Designs Salesman's Presentation Catalogue. $2,500 - $3,500.

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions