Common and Unusual Books On The West from Gene W. Baade
Catalogue 309 from Gene Baade Books On The West.
By Michael Stillman
From Gene W. Baade Books On The West we have received Catalogue 309. Besides the obvious geographical link which connects these books, Baade describes them as "a nice mixture of welcome, if slightly commonplace, titles mixed with the unusual and hard-to-find." I would reckon, to use a commonplace western expression, that most of these fit the unusual and hard-to-find category. Even though most are unusual, they are not expensive, the typical book in this catalogue being priced in the low to mid double digits. Good choices for tough times. However, there are a few that are particularly special and run a bit higher, and we will start with one such book.
Item 23 is one of the rarest Buffalo Bill biographies, though it came from the man who was his promoter for 34 years. John M. Burke ("Arizona John") was a smalltime actor, theatrical manager and newspaperman who was managing Mlle. Morlacchi, the Italian ballerina who made her career touring America. She and a young, not yet a star Buffalo Bill appeared together in the early 1870s, and by 1873, Burke was managing Bill Cody as well. They would be close associates for decades, and in 1893 he published Buffalo Bill. From Prairie to Palace. An Authentic History of the Wild West. Despite their close association, this biography of Buffalo Bill is very rare and mostly forgotten. Offered is a first edition. Priced at $600. Item 22 is a reprint of this book with additional information about Cody published in 2005: From Prairie to Palace. The Lost Biography of Buffalo Bill. $37.50.
Item 119 is a guide that will help prepare you for a trip to the Pacific Northwest: The Northern Pacific Tour. From the Lakes & Mississippi River to the Pacific including Puget Sound & Alaska. This was published by the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1888, when there wasn't any other way to reach this region unless you had a lot of spare time on your hands. It offers views of the trip from Minneapolis, through the Dakotas, Butte, Spokane Falls, the Columbia River, Portland, Rainier and Seattle. There also are views heading south to California and north to Alaska. Here is a chance to see the Northwest as it was when tourists to this region were still few. $185.
For a look at the bookseller and book collector's chase in the first half of the 20th century, item 45 is The Adventures of a Treasure Hunter. A Rare Bookman in Search of American History, by Charles P. Everitt. Everitt was one of the leading booksellers of the time, and in this work he recounts his searches in various venues for forgotten copies of great books, and the dealing in which he participated to stock his inventory. These were the days when booksellers would scout the back roads instead of the internet for the lost gems, and Everitt was evidently one of those individuals who thrived in this environment. $45.
Common and Unusual Books On The West from Gene W. Baade
Wyoming lawman Joe LeFors.
Item 86 is the biography of a longtime lawman in Wyoming: Wyoming Peace Officer. The Autobiography of Joe Lefors, this being a second printing from 1954. LeFors was modestly involved in the unsuccessful pursuit of Butch Cassidy, but he made his name in gathering the confession (or "confession") of Tom Horn. Horn worked for the large cattle ranchers at the time of the Johnson County War. This pitted large against small, the large ranchers, who believed many of the smaller guys were rustling their cattle, using people like Horn to enforce their authority. Horn had a way of disposing of people, whether through killing or fear is not known. However, Horn was not one to be modest, which was his undoing. A 14-year-old boy named Willie Nickell, son of a sheep rancher, whom the cattle barons also despised, was shot and killed. Horn became the prime suspect. Pretending to seek Horn's services, Lefors met with him over two days and asked many questions. Two stenographers were hidden in an adjacent room. Horn, with his bragging, fell right into the trap. He admitted to far too much, and at trial, did much the same. His defense was that he was drunk when speaking to Lefors and just bragging, along with various alibis he tended to contradict with his own large mouth. There is much doubt as to whether Horn killed Nickell, but most people were sure he had killed someone along the way, so a conviction was easy. Horn was hanged in 1903, and from then until his death in 1940, Lefors led a basically standard lawman's life, though he may have embellished his reputation. He was unable to get his autobiography published during his lifetime, an obvious disappointment, but it was privately published a decade later. $65.
Item 36 is a look at how many Americans, particularly in the west, received their information and entertainment from the 1930s-1960s: Border Radio. Quacks, Yodelers, Pitchmen, Psychics, And Other Amazing Broadcasters of the American Airwaves. This 1987 book by Bill Crawford and Gene Fowler recalls the powerful radio stations that beamed their mix of odd programming into America from just across the Mexican border. Being in Mexico, they were not limited in the amount of power they could apply to their signal, so they reached far greater distances than American radio stations. Similarly, they were not limited in their programming, so they were free to offer all kinds of quack remedies and other dubious promotions that would have put them in trouble if broadcast in America. Of course the people promoting these offers were Americans, simply broadcasting their wares from the other side of the boundary. $23.50.
Gene W. Baade may be reached at 425-271-6481 or email@example.com. The website is www.booksonthewest.com.