Texana from the Arader Galleries
Highlights of 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.
Texana from the Arader Galleries
The 1718 Delisle map with a generous Louisiana.
One of the major pieces for any Texana collection is Mary Austin Holley's Texas. Observations, Historical, Geographical and Descriptive... Mary Holley was a cousin of the "Father of Texas," Stephen F. Austin. Austin had developed a colony of settlers started by his father over a decade earlier along the Gulf Coast, and Mary published a series of her letters in this book, designed to encourage more settlers to come. Along with the promotional aspects, it tells much about Texas life, notably from a woman's point of view. It was published in 1833. That same year, Stephen Austin traveled to Mexico in hopes of encouraging reforms, only to be imprisoned on unspecified charges. By the time he was released in 1835, settlers from the east were totally dissatisfied with Mexican rule and the Texas Revolution was set to begin. $55,000. Also offered is the 1836 edition of this book, Texas, updated to be more of a history of Texas, and taking into account the revolutionary changes since the first edition. $35,000.
A City Map of Houston, drawn by J.P. Blessing, is a monumental depiction of that young and growing city in 1869. It measures 67" x 58 1/2", and includes insets of many important buildings and other features. It is hard to imagine a Houston map showing property owners' names, but that was still possible with a large enough map at the time. Naturally, it contains the names of many early families. $350,000.
Thaddeus Fowler prepared bird's-eye views of many cities, but he didn't attempt to tackle anything so large as Houston. He traveled all over the country preparing his city views, and from 1890-91 drew 17 in Texas and Oklahoma. The biggest Texas city he attempted is the one herein offered, Denison. Denison is located north of Dallas, just south of the Oklahoma border. At the time this view was published in 1891, it had a little over 10,000 residents. Today it has around 25,000. $9,500.
The Arader Galleries has six locations, including one in Texas. Their website is located at www.aradergalleries.com. The Houston Gallery, located in the Galleria, may be reached at 713-621-7151.