Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2023 Issue

Stories from the Old West from Old West Books

The latest selection from Old West Books.

Old West Books has released their Catalog 60 January 2023 about everyone's favorite time and place in America. It is a place of legends, tales tall and short. This catalogue focuses more on the short ones, that is, true stories rather than wild exaggerations. Nonetheless, there is some enhancement in a few titles, but for the most part, this is where you can learn about the real Old West. These are a few selections from this collection of the American West.

 

All aboard for the first wagon train to California! The title is Experiences of a Forty-Niner, By Wm. G. Johnston, A Member of the Wagon Train First to Enter California in the Memorable Year 1849. Many wagon trains went to California in that first year of the Gold Rush but this was apparently the first to arrive in Sacramento. Johnston and his compatriots left Independence, Missouri, in late April of '49 after waiting six weeks for the grass to grow tall enough for feeding the stock along the way. They took the route through Salt Lake City, the newly founded Mormon community at the time. The book was taken from Johnston's diary. It recounts his journey, life in the mines, and the quickly growing city of San Francisco. Evidently, mining didn't work out all that well for Johnston and he was less than persistent in his search for riches as by December he headed back east to his home town of Pittsburgh, this time traveling by sea. He went on to have a successful career as a businessman and in 1893 published this account for his friends. It was originally thought to have been printed in only 50 copies but it now appears it was more likely around 200. This copy contains the original blueprint map in facsimile. The map was not included with the book but Johnston later sent it out to the people to whom he had given the book for them to bind in, but many did not do so. Item 18. Priced at $1,250.

 

Custer County, Nebraska, may not sound like an exciting place, but it had its characters back in the 19th and early 20th century. The title of this book is Pioneer Stories of Custer County Nebraska, by E. R. Purcell, published in Broken Bow, the county seat, in 1936. Custer County is located in central Nebraska, a rural location, having a population of about 10,000, half of what it was a century ago. Old West notes the book contains “material on I. P. Olive, Luther Mitchell, Ami Ketcham, Doc Middleton.” Isom Prentice “Print” Olive was a rancher in Texas and an ornery one at that. He and his three brothers were in the cattle business, and while he might have done some cattle rustling in his early days, he had no tolerance for others who did. If he believed someone was stealing his cattle, he didn't call the law. He killed them. He was tried for a couple of murders but acquitted. Locals were unsure of the accuracy of that judgment, which led to his leaving town and obtaining a ranch in Custer County. Still, old habits followed him around and Olive got into a dispute with a couple of other ranchers, the aforementioned Mitchell and Ketchum. His brother was killed in a gunfight at the Ketchum ranch but Mitchell and Ketchum were acquitted of murder. Olive led a lynch mob to hang the two. Once again, it was time to move on, this time to Colorado, where he was shot and killed in a saloon by another person with a grudge against him. As for Doc Middleton, he was a horse thief extraordinaire and a convicted murderer. He escaped prison, moved to Nebraska, and ended up spending time as a deputy sheriff and city marshal. Eventually, he got in a knife fight, was jailed, and died in prison. Item 46. $75.

 

This is an uncommon account of cattle raising on a Texas ranch in the 19th century. The title is 27 Years a Mavrick or Life on a Texas Range, by W. S. James. Those 27 years encompassed 1856-1883. This is a first edition, published in 1893. The second edition, published under the title Cowboy Life in Texas, is more commonly found. James' father owned a ranch in Tarrant County, Texas, home to “Cowtown,” also known as Fort Worth. This is said to be a realistic description of what it was like to be a Texas cowboy in this era. As for the spelling of “mavrick,” rather than “maverick,” the latter is the term of independent-minded person, while a “mavrick” is an unbranded range cow. Item 17. $6,000.

 

Cowboys don't just rope cattle and shoot people they don't like. They write and sing songs too. This has been described as “the first book of cowboy songs.” The title is Songs of the Cowboys by N. Howard Thorp, published in 1908 in Estancia, New Mexico. Not a lot of books have been published in that town of then 500 now 1,200 residents, a history of Torrance County, of which it is the county seat, being the only other in the auction records. Thorp wrote several of the songs but others were written by various cowboy song writers. Laid in this copy of his book are Thorp's original three-page had-written lyrics to the song “Pecos Tom.” It was written on Thorp's Livestock Company letterhead and is signed by the author with his Diamond T brand. Item 82. $1,750.

 

Next we have a rare outlaw book by August C. Appler, a second edition published in 1876: The Guerillas of the West; or, The Life, Character and Daring Exploits of the Younger Brothers, with a Sketch of the Life of Henry W. Younger, Father of the Younger Brothers, who was Assassinated and Robbed by a Band of Jayhawkers. Also, The War Record of Quantrell during the Three Years that Cole and James Younger were with Him, Also a Sketch of the Life of the James Boys... The Younger Brothers and James Brothers cut their teeth with Quantrill's Raiders during the Civil War in Missouri, brutal fighters and killers on behalf of the Confederacy. After the war, the Youngers and James stayed together, but evolved from seekers of revenge for the war to a gang of just plain outlaws. This book was written contemporaneously with their criminal activities, robbing trains and banks. The year it was published was the one where the gang unsuccessfully attempted to rob a bank in Minnesota, several townspeople and gang members dying in a shootout. Cole, Bob, and Jim Younger were all wounded, captured, tried, convicted, and sentenced to prison. Jesse and Frank James escaped, and while Frank retired from the outlaw business, Jesse returned to it and was assassinated a few years later. Bob Younger died in prison, Jim killed himself a year after being paroled, while Cole and Frank James later toured in a Wild West show and in time died of natural causes. Item 1. $8,500.

 

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

Rare Book Monthly

  • Bonhams, July 15-25: THE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION OF ISRAEL WITKOWER. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: GEORGE WASHINGTON SIGNED DISCHARGE. June 9, 1783. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: "Shhhhh!" A DAVID SHANNON ILLUSTRATION FROM DAVID GETS IN TROUBLE. $2,500 - $3,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: PICASSO, PABLO. Le Carmen des Carmen. Paris, 1964. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: RARE AUTOGRAPH OF AMERICAN NAVAL HERO CAPTAIN JAMES MUGFORD. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: KARA WALKER SILHOUETTES FOR TONI MORRISON'S FIVE POEMS. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FIRST APPEARANCE OF PINOCCHIO IN ENGLISH. COLLODI, CARLO.New York, 1892. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: BONAPARTE, JOSEPHINE. Autograph Note (unsigned) in French. $1,000 - $1,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FROST ON MATTHEW ARNOLD.Autograph Letter Signed to Adams, July 27, 1934. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: ELIAS BOUDINOT'S COPY OF BARLOW'S COLUMBIAN EPIC. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A SIGNED HART CRANE BROOKLYN BRIDGE POSTCARD TO EDWARD DAHLBERG. $600 - $800
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A STOCK CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY THE "QUEEN OF WALL STREET," HETTY GREEN. $700 - $900
  • Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: U.S. / European Shipping Archive 1800-1814. The Widow Bermingham & Sons Collection. €7,000 to €10,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Bunreacht na hÉireann. Constitution of Ireland. An important copy of the First Printing of De Valera’s new Constitution, approved in 1938. Signed by the Constitution Cabinet. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: A Rare Complete Run of the Cuala Press Broadsides. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Grose (Francis). The Antiquities of Ireland, 2vols. folio London (for S. Hooper) 1791. Magnificent Hand-Coloured Copy - Only 25 Copies. €3,000 to €5,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Cantillon (Richard). Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en General, Traduit de l'Anglois, Sm. 8vo London (Fletcher Gyles) 1756. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Gregory, (Lady Augusta). Spreading the News: The Rising of the Moon: The Poorhouse (with Douglas Hyde). Being Vol. IX of the Abbey Theatre Series. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Lavery (Lady Hazel). A moving series of three A.L.S. and a Telegram to Gen. Eoin O'Duffy, July-August 1927, expressing her grief at the death of Kevin O'Higgins. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Dampier (Wm.) Nouveau Voyage Autour du Monde, ou l'on descrit en particulier l'Isthme de l'Amerique…, 2 vols. in one, Amsterdam, 1698. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Howell (James). Instructions for Forreine Travel Shewing by what Cours, and in what Compasse of Time…, London, 1642. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, 8vo, L. (Bloomsbury) 1999, First Edn., First Printing of Deluxe Collectors Edn. Signed. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: James (Wm.) A Full and Correct Account of the Military Occurrences of The Late War Between Great Britain and The United States of America. 2 vols. Lond. 1818. €650 to €900.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: The Laws of the United States, Published by Authority, 3 vols. Philadelphia (Richard Folwell) 1796. €600 to €800.
  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.

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