Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2015 Issue

Rare Books from the American West from Old West Books

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Books from the American West.

Old West Books has issued their Catalog 38 of Rare, Out of Print Books on the American West. Offered are 100 books targeted to serious collectors of the time and place we think of as the “Old West.” That means the titles are 19th and early 20th century books, though a few are of more recent vintage but pertain to those times. For Americans, this is the land of the “American Dream,” where those willing to take on the challenge could fulfill their wildest dreams. Some may have achieved these heights through the barrel of a gun, and outside of the law, and others became hardscrabble farmers, but no matter. This was our destiny, and if it wasn't, we made it so. Interestingly, if this was the embodiment of the American Dream, the Old West has long fascinated Europeans and others as well. Perhaps that reflects the reality that there were no such untamed lands left on the continent to conquer, so they were content to live the American Dream vicariously. Now, all of us get to relive those days through the books that describe those times.

 

The American Dream proved to be the Indians' nightmare through much of the West. Battles constantly sprung up as settlers claimed Indian land, Indians retaliated, the army retaliated to their retaliation, and so on. Ultimately, the Indians lost, even if occasionally they overcame the odds to achieve temporary success. Item 74 is A Thrilling Narrative of Indian Captivity, by Mrs. Mary Butler Renville, published in 1863. Mrs. Renville and her husband had been teachers to the Indians, but were caught up in what became known as the Dakota War of 1862. Not receiving timely treaty payments, and desperate for food, the Sioux rebelled, killing hundreds of settlers in the Minnesota River Valley. U.S. forces retaliated, capturing 1,000 Indians and carrying out the largest one-day execution in American history. Thirty-eight Sioux were hung on December 26, 1862. This book is Mrs. Renville's account of her captivity during those dark days. Priced at $12,500.

 

You might think that someone with a nickname like “Little Reddy” must have been a boy scout, but there was little good in Robert McKimie beyond the cute name. McKimie had already spent 15 years in a Utah prison for killing a man when he made his way to the Black Hills. There he hooked up with the Joel Collins-Sam Bass gang, holding up stages running from Deadwood to Cheyenne. On one occasion, he got careless and killed Johnny Slaughter, a popular driver and son of a Cheyenne marshal. That was too risky a move for the gang to tolerate. They threw him out. McKimie moved on to Ohio, where he went into business and became well-liked by his neighbors. However, he was eventually tracked down by a South Dakota lawman, captured, escaped, and was recaptured. His story is recounted in The Life and Adventures of Robert McKimie, Alias “Little Reddy,” from Texas The Dare-Devil Desperado of the Black Hills Region, Chief of the Murderous Gang of Treasure Coach Robbers... by J.W. Bridwell, published in 1878. The conclusion to McKimie's story remains unknown. He spent 14 years in a Ohio prison before being released. After that, some think he returned to Deadwood, but no one knows for certain where he went or what happened to him. Item 8. $1,750.

 

Next up we have an adventure story the likes of which could not be repeated today. Captain James Hobbs served in the Franco-Mexican War, but the title “captain” does not indicate he was primarily a military man. He was more of a mountain man, working the West before immigrants began to cross the country in numbers. He was a hunter and trapper, a close friend of the legendary Kit Carson. He coexisted among Indians, including time as a prisoner of the Comanches. He also served in the Mexican-American War as an interpreter, was a trader south of the border, and in time a forty-niner in California. His biography is revealed in Wild Life in the Far West; Personal Adventures of a Border Mountain Man, published in 1874. While it tells us much about the times, it is intended more as a story of the personal experiences of a man who lived a very wild life. Item 40. $250.

 

This next biography is laced with its share of self-aggrandizement, which might be inferred from its title: Life and Adventures of Polk Wells, The Notorious Outlaw Whose Acts of Fearlessness and Chivalry Kept the Frontier Trails Afire with Excitement, and whose Robberies and other Depredations in the Platte Purchase and Elsewhere, have been a Most Frequent Discussion to this Day... published by his wife's second husband in 1907. As the preface tells us, “The expressions of but a single man may change a whole epoch of history.” Did Polk Wells change history? Perhaps in his own mind. Who was he, anyway? Polk Wells was an Indian fighter on the frontier, twice captured, twice escaped. He became friendly with cowboys and criminals, the various people who roamed the plains. Kit Carson and Wild Bill Hickok were known to be friends. In 1872, he married, departed for a couple of years to seek his fortune, and when he returned, found his wife living with another man. Polk was understanding. Even gave him some money, and the man would later marry his wife and publish his autobiography. However, in 1879, Wells turned to crime. He started robbing trains and banks, and was good at it for a few years until he wasn't. He was sent to prison, attempted an escape, but the success he had escaping the Indians eluded him. Even more unfortunately, he killed a guard in the process, ensuring the rest of his life, which ended in 1893, was spent behind bars. In his autobiography, Wells paints himself as something of a Robin Hood, not an unqualified good man, but still someone who shared with the poor. Contemporaries considered the image more self-serving than accurate. He was hoping for a pardon. Item 96. $125.

 

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

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Sold for $500,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. Sold for $25,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. Sold for $50,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Fitzroy, Robert. Autograph Letter Signed to agent Thomas Stilwell, informing him of the progress of H.M.S. Beagle. Sold for $17,575.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br> Property from the Collection of Nicole and William R. Keck II</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. Sold for $13,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. Sold for $5,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. Sold for $7,575.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. Sold for $4,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. Sold for $8,825.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Sergio Trujillo Magnenat, <i>Bogotá 1938 / IV Centenario / Juegos Deportivos Bolivarianos,</i> 1938. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> <i>McQueen Drives Porsche,</i> designer unknown, 1970. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b><br>Joe Bridge, <i>Bignan / A Des Ailes,</i> 1921. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Graham Simmons, <i>The Army Isn’t All Work,</i> 1919. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Leonetto Cappiello, <i>Je ne fume que le nil,</i> 1912. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> <i>Attack of the 50 ft. Woman,</i> designer unknown, 1958. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Raymond Tooby, <i>Festival Guiness / Have You Tried One Yet?,</i> 1952. $600 to $900.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Francisco Tamagno, <i>Terrot & Co. / Dijon / Cycles Motorettes,</i> 1909. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b><br>A. Hori, Oakland / General Motors, circa 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>Travel? Adventure? Answer – Join the Marines!,</i> circa 1918. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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