Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2009 Issue

Old Western Books from...Old West Books

Old books from Old West Books.


By Michael Stillman

Old West Books of Colorado Springs has issued Catalog 24 of Rare, Out of Print Books on the American West. If the name, but not the location sounds familiar, this is the same Old West Books previously located in Arlington, Texas. This move is appropriate, as Colorado Springs is farther west, and Arlington, in the middle of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, is definitely New West. From their door, Old West can undoubtedly see Pike's Peak, gateway to America's first southwestern exploration, and a perfect starting point for the items inside this catalogue.

Zebulon Pike made it to Colorado Springs two centuries ahead of Old West Books, which is why the nearby mountain was named "Pike's Peak." After an unsuccessful attempt to find the source of the Mississippi, Zebulon Pike turned west. His explorations, though not as thorough or well-planned, were something of a Southwestern equivalent of Lewis and Clark's journey into the Northwest. He discovered the peak which bears his name, along with much else about the territory, but ended up being imprisoned for a while by the Spanish. At the time, today's Colorado was a border state with Mexico, and Pike journeyed a bit too far south for the always suspicious Spanish to tolerate. Item 158 is Pike's Exploratory Travels Through the Western Territories of North America... This is the 1811 London edition, generated from a manuscript prior to the release of the American edition. As a result, the arrangement of this edition differs from the American, and numerous corrections in grammar have been made. Item 158. Priced at $6,750.

Billy the Kid is one of those legendary names from the Old West, a man loyal to his friends and most adept with a gun. The Kid worked a few ranch hand types of jobs and later shifted to the business of small-time cattle rustler. However, it would be in New Mexico's Lincoln County War that he would make a name. When a friend and ally was gunned down in cold blood, Billy sought revenge. Something between 4 and 21 men (probably closer to the low end) died on the other side of Billy's gun before Sheriff Pat Garrett shot down the supposedly personable and loyal gunslinger. Still, Billy never gained that much notoriety during his lifetime, his legend, with some help from Garrett, being built after he died. The legendary status was sealed by the ultimate recognition in the years ahead - claims that he was still alive. Like Jesse James and Butch Cassidy, people showed up many years later claiming to be an aged Billy. One such man was Brushy Bill Roberts of Hico, Texas. Toward the end of his life, Roberts "admitted" to being the Kid, saying that he wanted an official pardon from the Governor of New Mexico. His story is recounted by C.L. Sonnichsen and William V. Morrison (the latter extensively interviewed Roberts) in Alias Billy the Kid. I Wanted to Die a Free Man, published in 1955. Roberts died in 1950, a year after he was discovered, and almost 70 years after Billy was believed to have died. Roberts evidently had much in common with Billy, including knowledge of very obscure events and scars on his body. Some who knew Billy many years earlier also identified him as the same. However, there were also some serious discrepancies, including Billy's literacy and fluency in Spanish, which Roberts lacked, and the fact that Billy would not likely consent to disappear, nor would Garrett likely risk the embarrassment of being discovered a fraud if he claimed to have killed Billy, only to have the latter reappear. You decide. Item 117. $40.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [RUTH, George Herman “Babe” (1895-1948)]. Signed photograph. Circa 1930s. 191 x 248 mm. $1,500 to $2,500.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: HARRISON, Benjamin. Document signed (“Benj Harrison”) as governor of Virginia, certifying the service of Daniel Cumbo, a Black Revolutionary soldier. $6,000 to $9,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: ONE OF THE FIRST PRINTED ANNOUNCEMENTS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. $4,000 to $6,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
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    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: FIRST PRINTING OF LINCOLN’S IMMORTAL GETTYSBURG ADDRESS. $4,000 to $6,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: HIGHLY IMPORTANT MORMON ARCHIVE. ALLEY, George. Archive of 23 Autograph Letters Signed by Mormon Convert George Alley to His Brother Joseph Alley. $10,000 to $20,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [AVIATION]. [ARMSTRONG, Neil A.] Aviation Hall of Fame Gold Medal MS64 NGC, Awarded to Neil Armstrong in 1979. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
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    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: NEWLY DISCOVERED FIRST PRINTING OF "WITH MALICE TOWARDS NONE... " FROM THE ONLY NEWSPAPER ACTUALLY ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE IN LINCOLN’S SECOND INAUGURAL PROCESSION. $4,000 to $8,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: THE MOST IMPORTANT GEORGE WASHINGTON DOCUMENT IN PRIVATE HANDS; GEORGE WASHINGTON’S COMMISSION AS COMMANDER IN CHIEF, 1775, ONE OF ONLY TWO ORIGINALS. $150,000 to $250,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: A VERY RARE ACCOUNT OF BLACKBEARD’S DEATH AND ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PIRATE ITEMS EXTANT. $3,000 to $5,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
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    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: EDISON, Thomas. Patent for Edison’s Improvements on the Electric-Light, No. 219,628. [Washington, D.C.: U.S. Patent Office], 16 September 1879. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [VIETNAM WAR]. The original pen used by Secretary of State William P. Rogers to sign the Vietnam Peace Agreement, Paris, 27 January 1973. $10,000 to $15,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: SONS OF LIBERTY FOUNDER COLONEL BARRÉ ANNOTATED TITLE-PAGE, “WHICH OUGHT TO ROUSE UP BRITISH ATTENTION”. $4,000 to $6,000.

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