Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2021 Issue

Old West Books Offers a New Collection from the American West


Books from the American West.

We recently received Catalog 54 April 2021 from Old West Books. Their specialty is “rare, out of print books on the American West.” Those were the days when masked men were the ones to be feared, rather than the unmasked ones. Times change. The outlaws and gunslingers never inflicted the mayhem of today's unseen killer. But, hopefully, it will soon be safe to travel to the American West again and visit the landmarks. I'm ready to go. Here are a few selections from this latest catalogue.


We begin by going back to the older Old West, to the days before outlaws and gunslingers, when the American Southwest was the Mexican North, prior to the Mexican War. The book is Commerce of the Prairies: or, The Journal of a Santa Fe Trader, during Eight Expeditions across the Great Western Prairies, and a Residence of Nearly Nine Years in Northern Mexico, published in 1844. The author was Josiah Gregg, neither a gunslinger nor Indian fighter. He traveled west for his health and became a merchant. He made the journey from Missouri or Arkansas several times between the years 1831-1839. Gregg was a keen observer of what he saw which he relayed in this book. It became very popular, not only in America but in England and Europe through translations to French and German. He described the geology, geography, culture, and natives he saw along the trail. He also developed a great interest in botany, with several plant species being named for him. Though a merchant, much of what Gregg did could be described as explorations, such as finding a new trail west. In 1849, he went to California for the Gold Rush, but on an expedition to the northern part of the state, he did not find a good way back and died from a combination of starvation and illness. Item 16. Priced at $3,750.


Next we have another account written about the Santa Fe Trail, this time written by a young woman. She was a contemporary of Gregg and read his description of the trail. In fact, the first part of her book is said to greatly resemble that of Gregg. Her name was Susan Magoffin and she accompanied her husband, Samuel, also a trader. She was just 19 years old and recently married when she went off on her adventure. They made their way from Missouri to Santa Fe in the summer of 1846, but after a few weeks there, continued their journey. The U.S. had recently gone to war with Mexico and the Magoffins followed not too far behind the soldiers. They made their way to El Paso del Norte and later continued south into territory still part of Mexico today. She became quite ill a few times but completed her journey. The Magoffins returned to Kentucky in 1848 but her health was never strong again. She died in 1855 at age 28. Her account, published as a book in 1926, is titled Down the Santa Fe Trail and into Mexico, the Diary of Susan Shelby Magoffin, 1846-1847. This is a presentation from Mr. and Mrs. Beriah Magoffin, stating “Eighty year old diary just published... Much of our family history.” Item 22. $400.


The U.S. Mexico border was set after the conclusion of the Mexican War in 1848, and again a few years later after the Gadsden Purchase. It has largely remained unchanged since then, except for some tweaking here and there. In 1889, the two nations agreed to set up the International Boundary Commission and a new survey was authorized to determine the border. From El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico, it was subject to minor changes as the Rio Grande forms the border, but the river channel is subject to wandering. To the west of the Rio Grande, it would be more fixed, but by then, most of the boundary markers set in the 1850s had disappeared, so a new survey was needed. Item 50 is the official senate report of that portion of the official boundary survey, Report of the Boundary Commission upon the Survey and Re-Marking of the Boundary Between the United States and Mexico, West of the Rio Grande, 1891 to 1896, published in 1898. The description of the boundary is valuable but perhaps what makes this report especially appealing is the photographs. There are 258 of them displaying boundary markers and scenery along what is barren yet beautiful, the desert scenery that dominates this part of the route from Texas to California. $2,000.


America's natives never had a chance against encroaching whites. Sheer numbers and weaponry made the result inevitable, though many fought to retain their land and way of life as long as they could. One of the most notable was Sioux warrior Crazy Horse. He fought many battles, including the Indians' most famous victory, that at the Little Big Horn. General Custer got the surprise of his life... and death. Item 6 is Chief Crazy Horse, His Career and Death. It is contained in the Nebraska History Magazine Extra of December 1929. The history was written by western author E. A. Brininstool, who later wrote a book about Crazy Horse published in 1949. Crazy Horse held out as long as he could, but in 1877, the leaders of his band of Sioux, isolated and starving, agreed to surrender to the army. While under their care, he was stabbed to death. Brininstool tracked down the accounts of witnesses to that tragic ending to reconstruct the warrior's death. This copy was inscribed by Brininstool to Frederic Van der Water, an author and critic of Custer. At the bottom of page 29, Brininstool has written, “line dropped. Greatest Indian that ever wore a moccasin.” $450.


This item takes us back in history to Texas at a time predating all the stereotypes we have of Texas today. It was an era when the land was controlled by Indians, western connections limited to an occasional explorer and Spanish missionaries seeking to save the natives from themselves (but not from the Spanish). The title is History of Texas 1673-1779, published in two volumes, much later (1935). However, it is the first complete publication of a contemporary manuscript by Fray Juan Agustin Morfi. Morfi was asked to accompany an inspection tour of some far outposts of northern Spanish Mexico in 1778. After his return home, he composed this manuscript concerning the area he visited. His translated manuscript was published by the Quivira Society, which published a number of historical accounts of the American Southwest and Mexico in the mid-20th century. Item 39. $250.


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

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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.
  • <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.

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