Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - September - 2007 Issue

Americana and the West from Clark Rare Books

Clark931

More Americana and the West from Clark Rare Books.

By Michael Stillman

Clark Rare Books
has issued a new catalogue of Americana, The West, and General. This is Clark's second catalogue since moving to Oklahoma, but number 931 in the bookseller's long history. This catalogue includes 244 items of mostly inexpensive material, some collectible, some items more for education and enjoyment. You will find explorers, cowboys, Indians, railroads, emigration, outlaws, prospectors...all of the usual cast of characters one would expect to find in the Old West. Of course there is General George Armstrong Custer, but his brother Tom is in here too. There are also once legendary Americans whose names have for the most part been lost to time, but are resurrected once more in the pages of this catalogue. Let's look inside.

Having noted that this material is not expensive, we will start with the exception to the rule. It is a piece worthy of being the exception -- a must classic for any collection of travels in the American West. Item 197 is a first edition of the Francis Parkman classic, The California and Oregon Trail, published in 1849. This travelogue on the Oregon Trail (Parkman did not reach Oregon or California, he stopped in present-day Wyoming) is one of the best descriptions of the trail and Indians along the way you will find, even if Parkman is a bit white-man-centric at times. Clark notes that this copy has all first edition points, but there are some binding differences that leads them to wonder if it might be one of the six prepublication copies publisher Putnam sent to Parkman for his personal use. Priced at $5,750.

It was California's second largest disaster of the 20th century, second only to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Item 115 is a thorough account of that tragedy: Man-Made Disaster: the story of St. Francis Dam, its place in Southern California's water system, its failure and the tragedy in the Santa Clara River Valley March 12 and 13, 1928, by Charles Outland. With water demand rising for the rapidly growing city of Los Angeles, the chief engineer for the city's water department, William Mulholland, set out to build a dam in San Francisquito Canyon, about 30 miles away. Construction began in 1924, and twice Mulholland changed plans to increase the height of the dam so it could hold more water. Through 1926 and 1927, as the water level was raised, cracks appeared in the dam, but Mulholland dismissed the small leaks as normal for a dam of this magnitude. The reservoir was finally filled on March 7, 1928, and more leaks appeared. On the morning of March 12, the dam keeper discovered a new leak and called Mulholland, who, after an inspection, again determined these were normal. However, shortly before midnight, the dam gave way, cascading some 12 billion gallons of water into the canyon below, a wall of water 125 feet high. Exact casualties will never be known, but at least 450 people, and possibly over 600, died in that wall of water. Later examination showed the land on which the dam was built was too unstable, and construction may have been short of accepted standards even for that time. Mulholland took full responsibility, commenting that he envied those who died. Offered is a 2002 second printing of the 1977 revised edition of Outland's work. $75.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Eric Carle, <i>The Very Hungry Caterpillar,</i> hand-painted collage. Sold for a record $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Couple passing a giant bird house,</i> watercolor cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1948. Sold for $16,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Miriam Troop, <i>Rain on Laundry Day,</i> oil on canvas, cover for <i>The Saturday Evening Post,</i> 1940. Sold for $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Rockwell Kent, <i>To All Fascists,</i> ink broadside for The League of American Writers, circa 1937. Sold for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Jo Mielziner, <i>Pet Shop Drop,</i> backdrop design for <i>Pal Joey</i> on Broadway, 1940. Sold for a record $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Lee Brown Coye, acrylic cover illustration for the 25th anniversary of <i>Weird Tales,</i> 1944. Sold for $18,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Virgil Finlay, <i>The Outsider & Others,</i> pen & ink dust jacket illustration for H.P. Lovecraft's book, 1939. Sold for $5,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Al Hirschfeld, <i>Paul Robeson as Othello,</i> illustration for <i>The New York Times,</i> 1942. Sold for $68,750
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Frederic Remington, pen & ink illustration for <i>A Scout with the Buffalo Soldiers</i> in <i>The Century</i> magazine, 1889. Sold for $17,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> EARLY AVIATION PHOTOGRAPHY ARCHIVE. Chronicling 20th century aviation from the earliest Wright Brothers images through commercial and military applications. $50,000 to $70,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> FIRST TELEPHONE CALL TO THE MOON. Partial transcription signed by Apollo 11 astronauts and President Nixon. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> SPUTNIK-1 EMC/EMI LAB MODEL, 1957. Full scale vintage test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite, Moscow, [February, 1957]. $400,000 to $600,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> Apollo 11 Beta cloth crew emblem, SIGNED BY THE ENTIRE APOLLO 11 CREW. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> GEMINI 1/8 SCALE MODEL. Rarely seen large-scale contractor's model. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.

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