A Wide Selection of Americana from Almagre Books
Americana from Almagre Books.
By Michael Stillman
Almagre Books, of historic Santa Fe, New Mexico, has issued its 22nd catalogue of Americana. There is really no way of describing this collection beyond that single term. The types of material offered include "books, maps, manuscripts, pamphlets, prints, photographs, and original art." However, the subject matter is as varied as America itself. Outside of the common thread of being works of nonfiction, you can find just about anything here. There is perhaps a skewing to the Southwest, but then you will find books on witchcraft in old New England. So, if you collect anywhere in the field of Americana, there is a good chance you will find something you like in the almost 600 items offered in this catalogue. Here are a few samples.
The 1830s were not a good time for America's natives. President Andrew Jackson may have been great for many things, but not his treatment of the Indians. Passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 signaled the end of all rights to their homeland for eastern Indians. The Cherokee of Georgia were the most notable victims of that decade, as they found their lands being taken by Georgia gold seekers and settlers. Most resisted, until they were finally forced on their "Trail of Tears" to Oklahoma, a death march for many. The Indians had far too few friends in Washington. John Marshall and the Supreme Court upheld their rights to their homeland, only to have their decision ignored by Jackson. Davy Crockett (the real one, not the Disney creation) was a strong supporter of the Indians. Another was Vermont Representative Horace Everett. He spent the decade arguing passionately for the Cherokee and other tribes, though to little avail. He described Indian removal as "evil," accurately predicting "the inevitable suffering incalculable." Item 104 is the Speech of Horace Everett, in the House of Representatives…May 31, 1838, on the Cherokee Treaty. Priced at $90.
Item 134 is a most unusual Colorado item, tying together perhaps the most notable family of the state's great mines and President Theodore Roosevelt. H.A.W. Tabor was at one time one of the nation's wealthiest people, amassing a fortune in the silver mines of Colorado. Though married at the time, he took up with a beautiful woman 25 years his junior, Baby Doe McCourt. While serving briefly as an appointed senator in Washington, he married Baby Doe, beginning a saga of wealth and generosity toward the community. The Tabors' home was in Leadville, high in the mountains. Unfortunately for the Tabors, the government demonetized silver in 1893, resulting in a collapse in the price of the metal. Tabor owned silver mines, and this, plus other bad investments, led to the loss of his entire fortune, perhaps $100 million. Broke, Tabor did manual labor before securing a job as postmaster in Denver in 1898. He died the following year, leading to the incredible saga of Baby Doe, who spent the rest of her life in poverty in a shack near Tabor's most notable, now abandoned mine. She was found there frozen to death in the winter of 1935. However, there was at least one bright spot in her long decline. In 1908, Theodore Roosevelt visited Colorado, and the Tabors' daughter, Rosemary Silver Dollar Echo Honeymoon Tabor, wrote a song for him.
A Wide Selection of Americana from Almagre Books
Theodore Roosevelt meets Silver Echo Tabor. Courtesy Denver Public Library.
Item 134 is a printing of that song, Our President Roosevelt's Colorado Hunt. March Song to the Memory of the Late U.S. Senator H.A.W. Tabor. Words by Silver Echo Tabor. Dedicated to My Beloved Father H.A.W. Tabor. Two years later, Silver Echo would get to meet Roosevelt. After that it was all downhill. While her mother drifted into isolation in her bitter cold mine shack, Silver Echo fell into alcoholism. She moved to Chicago hoping to jumpstart her writing career, but continued her downward spiral of drugs and alcohol, and took up with some undesirable men, the last of whom murdered her in 1925 with scalding water. Baby Doe refused to recognize her daughter's death, claiming she lived in a monastery. Silver Echo's ode to T.R., published in Denver in 1908, is priced at $350.
Item 487 is a less unusual Roosevelt item. It is a Message of the President of the United States, published in 1901. This is the first printing of Roosevelt's first speech to Congress as President, following the assassination of William McKinley. $50.
Item 3 is an extremely obscure item dealing with race in America. Privately published by the Colt Press in 1941 in an edition limited to 100 copies, it is entitled Negroes of America. The author of this call for better race relations was Tommy Bransten, all of ten years old at the time. The book is inscribed by the youthful author to "billy and clink" (the printer and her husband). $250.
Item 91 is a trade promotional: Cooper's Cattle Dip: The Tick Dip of Nations. It is filled with testimonials to this wondrous cattle dip, and contains a picture of former President William Howard Taft, large as a cow himself, observing a cattle dipping. Published in 1917. $100.
Item 507 is an 1878 work by Robert Dunlap Clarke, The Works of Sitting Bull in the Original French and Latin, with Translations, Diligently Compared. If you are wondering where on earth Sitting Bull learned these languages, the answer is Oxford, of course. This book was a magnificent fraud perpetrated by Clarke, but it led to many misconceptions about the great Chief's background over the years. $1,750.
Item 560 provides another strange claim. John Hanson's 1854 book is entitled The Lost Prince, Facts Tending to Prove the Identity of Louis the Seventeenth, of France, and the Rev. Eleazar Williams, Missionary Among the Indians of North America. Louis XVII was the Anastasia of his day. Young Louis, the Dauphin, was just six years old when the French Revolution began, eight when his father, Louis XVI, was sent to the guillotine. The young prince was imprisoned under deplorable and humiliating conditions for anyone, much less an eight year old. In poor health from disease, he died in 1795 at the age of ten. However, for many years, numerous pretenders stepped to the fore claiming to be the lost prince. Eleazar Williams was one of the more unlikely candidates, but as the story went, Louis was somehow smuggled out of France to be raised in America by Iroquois Indians. $225.
Almagre Books may be reached at 505-989-9462, or email@example.com.