Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2009 Issue

Cowboys, Cattle, Custer and More from Old West Books

Oldwest23

Rare books on the American West from Old West Books.


By Michael Stillman

Old West Books of Arlington, Texas, has released Catalog 23 of Rare, Out of Print Books on the American West. As they note in their letter to collectors, "It's the collector who searches for and obtains the rare or unique items that makes his collection stand apart from others." Old West has gathered a collection of these rare and unique items about their small but larger than life corner of the universe. Among the topics highlighted are cowboys, the cattle industry, military, Indian wars, Texas, and the inimitable George Armstrong Custer, famous more for his demise than his life. To this day, scholars debate what went wrong that June day in 1876, and who bears responsibility for the catastrophe that befell Custer and his men. Here are some of the items being offered.

Item 184 is one of those rare pre-Republic Texas books: A Visit to Texas Being the Journal of a Traveller Through Parts Most Interesting to American Settlers With Descriptions of Scenery, Habits, &c. The anonymous author (names suggested include Dr. M. Fiske and Colonel Morris) arrived in Texas in early 1831 to inspect land he had purchased from the Galveston Bay and Texas land Company. Evidently, the land he purchased was worthless, and the author has a few caustic comments about the land company. However, he goes on to tell much more about a land that was very intriguing to Americans, but about which little was known at the time. This was an era when American settlers were still welcomed by Mexico. That would soon end when Mexican authorities realized they were peopling the land with settlers who had little natural loyalty to their country. Offered is a first edition, without the account of the 1835 revolution contained in the second edition (published in 1834, the first predates that uprising). Streeter described the plates found only in the first edition as "perhaps...the earliest of sporting scenes in the West." Priced at $775.

Here is another account of early Texas: Scraps of Early Texas History, by Mary S. Helm. Though this first edition wasn't published until 1884, Mrs. Helm went way back, having traveled to Texas in 1828 to accompany her first husband, Elias Wightman. Wightman had gone to Texas is 1824 as a surveyor for Stephen F. Austin. The book begins with an account of the Texas Revolution from a woman's eye, but also covers her trip to Texas and the years from 1828-1835. Additionally, it contains a description of Texas written by Wightman in the 1820s. She and her first husband helped found the town of Matagorda. Item 186. $1,750.

Item 30 was a dose of reality: Our Barren Lands. The Interior of the United States West of the 100th Meridian and East of the Sierra Nevadas, by General W.B. Hazen. The Northern Pacific Railroad had been touting the land from Texas to the Dakotas as suitable for farming. That was based on their experiences in the early 1870s, and reports from Custer on abundant grass during his expedition in 1873. However, General Hazen was aware that this was an unusually wet period, and that most of the time, the land was far more dry and barren. This 1885 first edition of his book provides information from the military and civilians concerning typical arid conditions of this land. $2,500.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Textile of the Great White Fleet, with portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans & successor Charles Stillman Sperry, 1908. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> William J. Stone, <i>Declaration of Independence,</i> Force printing, 1833. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Shugart family papers including documentation of the Underground Railroad, 63 items, 1838-81. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Records of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works, over 2000 items, with extensive slave labor correspondence, legal records & receipts, bulk 1820-1865. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Gloria Steinem, typescript for her speech <i>Living the Revolution,</i> with related letters and documents, 1941-77. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> <i>Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression,</i> depicting the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, c. 1774. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, <i>Historia naturae, maxime peregrinae, libris XVI distincta,</i> Antwerp, 1635. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Antonio de Mayorga, manuscript map of Mexico City, 1779. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Thomas L. McKenney & James Hall, <i>History of the Indian Tribes of North America,</i> first edition, 3 volumes, Philadelphia, 1842-44. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Samuel Walker, diary of the entire first cruise of the USS Kineo, a gunboat on the Mississippi, 1854-69. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Scrapbook on early Stanford football, with letters from Walter Camp, 1893-95 & 1931. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <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.

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions