Texana from the Arader Galleries
By Michael Stillman
The Arader Galleries has issued a catalogue of Highlights of the Texana Collection. The collection includes books, maps, views, and a few other items pertaining to the Lone Star State. Actually, many items extend beyond the state's boundaries, as most early maps included wider ranges of the American Southwest, the Gulf Coast, Mexico, or even most of North America. The common theme is that they all touch Texas in some way, and the material is antiquarian, ranging from the 16th to the 19th century. Here are a few of the items of Texana now available.
One of the earliest visits to Texas that did not come from south of the border was that of La Salle. The French explorer brought a group of settlers to the territory to set up a French presence in an area where the line between Spanish and French authority was unclear. However, it was not La Salle's intent to settle Texas. He was looking to set up shop at the as yet undiscovered mouth of the Mississippi. He overshot the mark and instead landed at Matagorda Bay. Realizing his mistake, La Salle made several attempts to find the Mississippi. In time, his suffering settlers lost patience and killed their leader. Henri Joutel had been placed in charge of the colony during La Salle's absences, and when his leader was killed, he expected the same. However, he was spared, and departed with some followers to try to find a return route up the Mississippi and back to French Quebec. That was a tall order, but Joutel succeeded and eventually wrote this book to correct what he felt were erroneous histories of the expedition: Journal historique du dernier voyage que feu M. de la Salle...published in 1713. It is a story of survival under the most trying conditions. Priced at $38,000. Also offered is the first English edition, A Journal of the last voyage, Perform'd by Monsr. De la Salle...published in 1714. $35,000.
The earliest printed separate map of the southern part of North America is the Nueva Hispania Tabula Nova. This map by Girolamo Ruscelli (taken from Giacomo Gastaldi) was published in Venice in 1548. Arader notes that more detail of the area would not be provided until half a century later. This map still shows the Yucatan as an island, but does not separate California from the mainland (later maps would make California an island). $25,000.
Guillaume Delisle produced the map Carte de la Louisiane et du Cours du Mississippi in 1718. This was one of the finest maps of the Mississippi River, as well as the French territory of Louisiana, at the time. However, it did not please Britain or Spain as Delisle took an expansive view of the French territory in North America. What makes this map most notable, however, is that it contains the first printed cartographic reference to Texas. Along the Trinity River it lists the "Mission de los Tiejas," established in 1716. This is the first reference on a printed map to a form of the name "Texas." $90,000.