ONE OF THE BIG FOUR CATTLE BOOKS
253. NIMMO, Joseph. Treasury Department. Report on the Internal Commerce of the United States. Washington: GPO, 1885. 562 pp., 5 folded lithograph maps with original color, including the important The Range and Ranch Cattle Area of the United States 1884 (60.7 x 62.5 cm; neat line to neat line). 8vo, original brown cloth, spine gilt-lettered. Spine lettering somewhat faded, light shelf wear, first map reattached with closed tear at text block (no losses), some other maps professionally restored (to correct the typical adhesion due to the type of ink used to print the maps), overall a fine copy, much better than normally found. Desirable provenance, with handwritten ink note by J. Frank Dobie on front free endpaper.
First edition, preferred issue, “the most desirable because of its maps and apparent priority of issue” (Reese, Six Score). Adams, Herd 1674: “Rare.... This edition, beginning with Part 3 (p. 95), is the same as [Herd] 1673 above. This book is held to be among the most important of the ‘big four’ cattle books, and its contents were compiled by experts on the subject.” Campbell, p. 189. Dobie, p. 112. Dykes, Collecting Range Life Literature, p. 16; Western High Spots, p. 27 (“My Ten Most Outstanding Books on the West”). Howes N158: “Contributed to by cattle experts, statistically documented, the unrivalled source for the period.” Cf. Merrill, Aristocrats of the Cow Country, pp. 9, 22 (listing the shorter 200-page version with 4 maps): “Deals with a unique subject, almost forgotten, a proposed cattle trail to connect with the Fort Griffin and Dodge City Trail at Fort Supply, Indian Territory, and proceed thence by a devious route to the Canadian line.... Texas cattlemen...petitioned Congress to permanently set aside from the public domain this fifty-mile wide strip as a National trail.” Rader 2485.
Reese, Six Score 81: “One of the ‘big four’ cattle books; an indispensable source for research in the field. This issue, the ‘Treasury’ issue, is the most desirable because of its maps and apparent priority of issue. The report is ‘The Range and Ranch Catte [sic] Business of the United States,’ with numerous appendices relative to the subject on following pages. It is a unique collection, and should be an early point of reference for anyone interested in this period. It contains more solid facts than any other primary source of the time.” Streeter Sale 2377: “Nimmo’s essay on the range and ranch cattle business of the United States, which comprises Part 3 of his report, is regarded as the best and most comprehensive treatment of the industry made to that time.” Wallace, Arizona History VII:1.
Nimmo’s report was reprinted several times after its first appearance here. Nimmo was a long-time government employee and statistician who commented on a wide variety of social and public issues; this report is his most famous work, providing minute documentation and investigation at the pivotal point when ranching and cowboys were evolving away from open range ways. In this report, Nimmo estimates the range and cattle ranch area of the U.S. to be 1,365,000 square miles (44% of the total area, excluding Alaska). As the open ranch days began to draw to a close, Nimmo comments here: “The very fact that the range cattle business is most profitably carried on in a large way and that its successful prosecution involves organization and cooperative work, appears to have suggested at an early day the conduct of the business under corporate ownership and management. Accordingly this has been one of the market features of the enterprise from the beginning. Incorporated companies are now extensively engaged in the cattle business from Southern Texas to the northern border line of the United States.” After publishing this definitive study, a year later in an article in Harper’s Monthly (November 1886), Nimmo set out his perceptions of the drift of the cowboy and the cattle industry more dramatically, referring to the original cowboy as “a Texan, armed to the teeth, booted and spurred, long haired, and covered with a broad-brimmed sombrero,” who was of “a class of men whom persons accustomed to the usages of civilized society would characterize as ruffians of the most pronounced type.” He concluded that “a new class of cow-boys has been introduced and developed.... The moral of the entire range and ranch cattle business of the United States now compares favorably with that of other large enterprises.” ($2,500-5,000)
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