Unusual Books on the West from Gene W. Baade
More Books on the West from Gene W. Baade.
By Michael Stillman
Gene W. Baade opens his Catalogue 407 of Books On The West with an introspective question, why even bother printing catalogues in the era of the internet? He notes that his catalogues are not "fancy," which they certainly are not, but the plus side of this is that the cost of expensive catalogues is not built into his prices either. He concludes that the printed catalogue is still important because it requires a higher level of research and description to create a useful one than is often found with internet listings. Even more important, in the impersonal world of internet sales, a catalogue still allows a bookseller to connect with his or her customers. The collector can still sit back and read the catalogue at leisure and then speak to the bookseller person to person, as if they were humans rather than machines. Maybe he's on to something!
Catalogue 407 is typical of Baade's catalogues, filled with the unusual, some for collecting, others for reading. They are almost all "Books on the West" with an occasional exception. Prices are rarely expensive. A few items are valued in the hundreds of dollars, but then there are some in single digits. For most items, expect two digits before the decimal point. Here are a few samples from this latest collection.
Item 148 is an item of early Texana, though it was written by a New York lawyer and published in New York: Thoughts on the Proposed Annexation of Texas to the United States. This was originally published in the New York Evening Post under the name of "Veto," but the writer of this 1844 pamphlet was one Theodore Sedgwick. Sedgwick was strongly opposed to annexation, citing constitutional grounds, though his evident major concerns dealt with the issue of slave versus free states and conflicts it might arouse with Mexico. Ultimately, he proved right about these concerns, as the U.S. would go to war with Mexico and the issue of slave versus free new states would be the major cause of the Civil War. However, with the election of the expansionist James Knox Polk as president that same year, Sedgwick's warnings would be ignored. Priced at $135.
Speaking of President Polk, item 132 is The Road to Virginia City. The Diary of James Knox Polk Miller. This is a first edition of a book not published until 1960, but which tells of a man who crossed the country overland in the days before the transcontinental railroad and ended up in Montana in 1864. It's obvious his parents must have been admirers of President James Knox Polk. I wonder how long it has been now since someone was named for him? $19.50.
Unusual Books on the West from Gene W. Baade
Here is an autobiography of a man who didn't have a problem with self-image: James Andrew Wilson. Life Travels and Adventures. The Greatest Fighter Living in Texas. Written by Himself. The subtitle is, The Bravest Man Who Ever Lived in Texas. If this is true, it must have escaped the notice of most other Texans. I never heard of him before. If you haven't either, here is your chance. Baade tells us Wilson's greatest adventures took place in the late 19th century, but actually occurred in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas. Perhaps he felt "the Greatest Fighter Living in Alabama" wouldn't sound as impressive so he used Texas instead. Ernest Wessen, in his Midland Notes, describes Wilson as the greatest gunfighter "by his own admission." Item 182. $67.50.
Here is the rare item not about the West, though it is connected by being published in Austin, Texas. It is a complete run of Bookways A Quarterly for the Book Arts. This was a short-lived periodical dedicated to fine printing, and its quality matched its subject matter. Sixteen issues were published between 1991 and 1995. Item 18. $400.
Item 14 is Butch Cassidy, My Brother, by Lula Parker Betenson, a second printing from 1975. Mrs. Betenson was indeed the sister of Robert LeRoy Parker, better known as Butch Cassidy, though this book was written over half a century after when most believe he died. The prevailing view is that Cassidy died in a shoot out in South America in 1908, but as with other icons such as Jesse James, some believe he survived and went on to live for many more years underground. Mrs. Betenson was one of them, at least she professed to be. She claimed to have witnessed a return by Butch to the family homestead in 1925. He supposedly went back in hiding until he died in 1937, to be buried in a grave kept secret by the family. It is not clear whether Mrs. Betenson believed her story or made it up for publicity and money. To hear her side, you need only read the book. Baade's copy is special as it is autographed by Lula Parker Betenson. $75.
Gene W. Baade may be reached at 425-271-6481 or email@example.com.