1. ADAMS, Samuel (1722-1803). Printed document completed in manuscript, signed by Adams, appointing Joseph B. Varnum as Justice of the Court of Common Pleas for Middlesex County, Massachusetts (with manuscript attestation that Varnum has taken oath of office). Boston, March 19, 1795. 1 p., 4to. Embossed seal of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Split at folds (a few insignificant losses). Silked.
Adams was Governor of Massachusetts at this time. Varnum (ca.
1750-1821), who went on to become a Congressman (1795-1811), Speaker of the
House (1807-11), and Senator (1811-17), was an early opponent of slavery, an
advocate for a militia as opposed to a standing army, and a strong supporter of
the War of 1812.
One of the Earliest Letters Written by Austin from Texas Still in Private Hands
2. AUSTIN, Stephen F. (1793-1836). Autograph letter, signed and with rubric, to James Britton Bailey. Brazos River, October 3, 1823. 1 p., 8vo. Split at folds (loss of only one letter of one word); some browning and light spots; top blank margin rough; lower right blank corner absent (no loss of text). The consignor wishes us to point out that three ink fingerprints (Austin's?) are faintly visible at right margin. Professionally de-acidified and stabilized. Matted in acid-free materials, framed, and under glass, with a small nineteenth-century portrait of Austin. Sound provenance: Present are two letters of provenance from the 1930s, one on letterhead of W. M. Caldwell, Attorney, Houston, Texas, discussing the present letter (including the conjecture that Bailey was a member of pirate Laffite's crew), and a letter to Caldwell from Mrs. Leita Small, Alamo Custodian, returning the Austin letter to Caldwell and mentioning that it had been on exhibit at the Alamo for some fifteen or sixteen years. One of the most desirable pieces of Texana we have ever handled.
An extraordinary and unusual letter entirely in the hand of Stephen F. Austin, the Father of Texas&emdash;one of the earliest letters written by Austin from Texas still in private hands. The letter dramatically documents the shift in authority from the Spanish-Mexican period to Austin's dominance as premier empresario of a rapidly evolving Anglo Texas. Austin, asserting powers under his empresario grant, writes to Bailey denying him admission to the Austin colony:
You are hereby notified that you cannot be received as a settler in this Colony, and that you will not be permitted to live nearer the Brazos river than the San Jacinto nor nearer the Colorado than the Guadalupe. Sixty days are allowed you to remove your family and property.
James Britton "Brit" Bailey (1779-1832) "one of Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists...apparently lived in Kentucky for a number of years and reportedly served in the legislature of that state; however, he acquired a controversial reputation and may have been prosecuted for the crime of forgery before he left the state" (New Handbook I:334-35). One of the most colorful and hardy of the first Anglo settlers in Texas, Bailey continuously wheeled and dealed to amass one of the early vast land holdings. Before he died, his estate covered a large portion of what is now Southeast Texas. Bailey was also one of the first Texas "cattle barons," rounding up one of the great herds of longhorn cattle in the region, which pastured as far as present-day Houston to the coastal country. Bailey's will included the unusual request that he be buried standing up, facing west (and, according to legend, with a cocked rifle in his hands and a jug of whiskey at his feet).
The source of the animosity between Bailey and Austin is not known, but Bailey was the type of person around whom legends grow, and he had a reputation for outlandish, confrontational behavior. One story has it that he once met Austin on the road and proceeded to give him a sound thrashing. It has also been suggested that Austin courted Bailey's daughter against her father's will, or that Austin was the victim of Bailey's propensity for practical jokes. Most likely, as the present letter suggests, the source of irritation between the two men grew out of the confused state of Texas land grants during the transitional period between 1819 and 1821, when Spain relinquished to Mexico her claim to Texas and Mexico. Bailey preceded Austin to Texas, arriving in late 1818 or early 1819, settling near the Brazos River at what is now Bailey's Prairie. The lands later granted to Austin overlapped those already occupied by Bailey. Apparently the Spanish government sold Bailey his league and labor (4,587 acres) on the east bank of the Brazos (from Brazoria to Bell's Landing), though he may not have been issued a deed. "When Austin came to tell him to move off his original tract, it was Austin who moved instead, in a backward step, looking into the muzzle of Bailey's gun. This was an unfortunate incident, which rankled in the minds of both men. Austin probably thought that he had a right to Bailey's land, for he had been given authority by the Mexican Government to settle a colony in that region" (Colson, Bailey's Light, pp. 36-37). But Bailey's frontier experience, as well as his forthrightness and ability to treat with Mexican officials and Native Americans were necessary and useful to Austin and his colonists. By July 7, 1824, Austin had become accepting enough of Bailey's presence to recognize his squatter's claim to a league and a labor of land, and Austin convened the settlers from the lower Brazos at Bailey's home to take the oath of fidelity to the Mexican Constitution of 1824.
A final note on the value of Austin letters: Austin letters of this
early date, written from Texas, almost never appear on the market. One can find
an Old Three Hundred grant, assuredly a great item to own, but not in the same
league as a letter like the present one. Searching for comparable values in the
past few decades, we found only one similar item, an autograph receipt signed
by Austin at Bexar and dated March 13, 1822 (Jenkins' 1986 The Texas
Revolution and Republic Catalogue 188:4 @ $40,000). On November 15, 1997,
fourteen Austin letters (1830-1836) sold for around $575,000 at New Orleans
Auction Galleries, averaging a little over $40,000 per letter.
Click for image
A Foundation Document for the Colonization of Texas
& an Early Texas Imprint
3. AUSTIN, Stephen F. (1793-1836). Printed certificate of admission to Austin's colony for Warren D. C. Hall, completed in manuscript and signed in full by Austin, commencing: No.  El Ciudadano Estevan F. Austin, Empresario, para introducir Emigrados Estrangeros, en las Colonias que le tiene designadas el Supremo Gobierno del Estado de Coahuila y Texas.... Villa de Austin [San Felipe de Austin: G. B. Cotten], December 21, 1829. 19.2 x 19.9 cm. (7-9/16 x 7-7/8 inches). Old tape stains where formerly folded; separations neatly reinforced with archival paper (very minor losses, affecting only a few letters).
First printing of a basic document for Texas colonization, and an
early Texas imprint. Eberstadt 162:39: "This document represents one of the
four essential steps used in the colonization process, being the empresario's
certificate, stating that the immigrant had been admitted as a member of
Austin's Colony." Streeter 9: "Among the 1829 and early 1830 products of the
San Felipe press are printed forms for some of the steps in the process of
making grants of land to immigrants. I do not ordinarily list forms, but as
these grants were the foundation of the colonization of Texas, it seems
suitable that the four essential printed forms used in the colonization process
should be entered or noted." Warren D. C. Hall (1788-1867), the colonist named
in the certificate, was an early, important Anglo settler, accompanying the
Gutiérrez-Magee and Mina expeditions, second in command at Anahuac,
representative at the Consultation in 1835, Secretary of War during the Texas
Revolution, plantation owner, and attorney (New Handbook III:416). This
is probably the earliest obtainable Texas imprint. Of the prior eight
Texas imprints, three are not located in any copy; three are known only by one
copy; another is known by two copies; four copies of Streeter 7 are located
(known forgeries exist).
Click for image
Original Nineteenth-Century Photographs of Lake Austin
4. [AUSTIN, TEXAS]. Nine original untoned albumen contact prints, each measuring approximately 6 x 8 inches, all mounted on sheet with printed caption below: Scenes on Lake McDonald, Austin, Texas. Austin, [1890s]. Some holes and tears to photos (mostly minor), light spotting and discoloration, images fading; original paper mount with printed caption friable (stabilization recommended). Original white wooden frame with ornate carved vine and leaf pattern.
This rare set of photographs documents what is now Lake Austin, which was known as Lake McDonald in the 1890s. The scenes show various locations on the Lake, and two of them include people (one with two men in a wooded area; another with two men in a boat). These vintage photographs capture the bucolic nature of the Lake and its great natural beauty.
Lake McDonald was conceived in the 1880s amidst much boosterism and fanfare. Austin citizens went to the polls and cheerfully endorsed a bond indebtedness of $1,400,000 (in a city whose annual revenues stood at $100,000). With promises that the quarter-mile long, sixty-foot dam which would generate 14,636 horsepower, construction began, and Lake McDonald Dam was completed in March 1895. Real estate prices soared; investors flocked to Austin; consumers were rewarded with water and electricity at one-half the cost from the private utility company. An electrical street car system was implemented, and Austin's famous moon towers were installed. The Lake became a center of social activity.
However, the euphoria faded when it was realized that the dam was
incapable of generating anything near the anticipated horsepower. Also, by 1900
half of Lake McDonald's original water capacity was replaced with silt. The
populace was disenchanted. It was left to Mother Nature to rescue the citizenry
from their dilemma. On April 6, 1900, the rain, at times a deluge, came down
for twenty-four hours straight. The next day a wall of water eleven feet high
rushed over the dam's spillway, breaking it into two sections, carrying away
the power house, drowning several people, and washing away homes, barns, and
livestock. The newspaper reported: "Austin resembled a bed of red ants suddenly
disturbed." The City bravely faced its burden of debt. Also, there was some
sense of relief at being liberated from the unrealistic expectations inspired
by the dam. Town boosters changed their tack, emphasizing Austin's identity as
a seat of politics and education and its attractiveness as a place to live. In
1915, Lake McDonald was reborn as Lake Austin. These wonderful photographs
beautifully record a fascinating era of Austin's history that reminds us that
the more things change, the more they remain the same.
Click for image
5. BERLIOZ, Hector (1803-1869). Autograph letter, signed, in French, to "Mon cher Hiller." Paris, "24." 1 p., 12mo. Minor creasing, otherwise fine.
The brilliant French composer, who is considered "the greatest musical
figure in the French Romantic movement" (Oxford Companion to Music, p.
105), writes complaining that he has never received his musical score and
comments that Hiller's garçon d'orchestre has followed certain
instructions. Ferdinand Hiller, who was Berlioz' teacher, was also a composer,
pianist, and friend to the Romantics.
Click for image
Exceedingly Rare Bird's-eye Views
6. [BIRD'S-EYE VIEW: DENISON, TEXAS]. Denison, Texas. Grayson County. 1886. Milwaukee: Norris, Wellge & Co., 1885. Lithographic bird's-eye city view. Black and white. Image: 39.2 x 68.1 cm. (15-7/16 x 26-13/16 inches); image with text: 49.8 x 68.1 cm. (20 x 26-13/16 inches). Insets: Denison Improvement Company's Addition, and Front View of South Side of Main Street. Lower left: Beck & Pauli Litho. Milwaukee, Wis. Legend below identifying approximately one hundred landmarks and buildings. Contemporary black wooden rollers and brass loops for hanging. Some minor waterstaining to image (confined to sky area); occasional light creasing due to having been rolled; one small abrasion to sky at upper left.
Apparently the earliest lithographic bird's-eye view of Denison,
Texas. Reps (Views 3960) locates two copies (Amon Carter Museum
& Library of Congress). Established in 1872 as a railroad town, Denison
quickly grew, and during the next ten years established itself as a retail and
shipping point for North Texas. The lithograph shows a bustling town
criss-crossed by railroads and with the belching smoke stacks of the Denison
Cotton Company, M-K-T railroad shops, Denison Water Supply Company, and other
factories. This handsome view was the collaborative effort of George E. Norris
(Reps, Views, pp. 193-94) and Henry Wellge (Reps, Views, pp.
213-14), who joined forces in 1884. Reps states that Wellge, the German-born
artist who settled in Milwaukee in 1878, "ranks with the most prolific of the
city view artists of America" (p. 213).
7. [BIRD'S-EYE VIEW: SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS]. KOCH, Augustus. Bird's Eye View of the City of San Antonio Bexar County Texas. 1873. [Madison: J. J. Stoner], 1873. Lithographic bird's-eye city view with original coloring. Image: 55.5 x 72.2 cm. (21-7/8 x 28-3/8 inches); image with text: 58.8 x 72.2 cm. (23-3/16 x 28-3/8 inches). Legend below identifying 42 sites. Old dark oak frame, under glass. Some light to moderate staining, left side of image and border with some small abrasions and two or three tiny holes (barely affecting image).
Second lithographic bird's-eye view of San Antonio (preceded only by Lungkwitz's view printed in Dresden ca. 1860). Reps (Views 3996) locates two copies (Witte Museum & UT Center for American History); Cities of the American West, Figure 18.18 & pp. 614-18: "In 1870 San Antonio's population was more than 12,000. Three years later Augustus Koch prepared the [present] view.... While no over-all plan guided the town's growth, the Spanish and Mexican tradition of the plaza evidently proved too strong to be overlooked even by the land speculators who vied with one another in promoting new real estate ventures at the outskirts of the city. In addition to the irregularly shaped Alamo Plaza to the left of the river's loop and the older rectangular main and military plazas near the center of the view, several new open spaces can be seen." The view is dominated by the meandering San Antonio River and the presence of many Spanish-style plazas. Population density thins to only an occasional cluster of homes a few blocks beyond Water Street, the entire town being less than twenty blocks square. The feeling is of a small, peaceful, multi-cultural town. Located are public buildings, hospitals, churches, schools, casino, Menger Hotel, small factories (including two breweries, a tannery, three mills, an ice plant, etc.).
German-born Augustus Koch (1840-?), the creator of this rare view, was
one of the most important viewmakers. "No American viewmaker traveled more
widely in search of subjects than August Koch.... Koch drew his cities with
considerable care, consistently depicting his subjects as if seen from very
high viewpoints.... He seems to have drawn with substantial accuracy.... His
recorded output of 110 views was exceeded by only a few other viewmakers"
(Reps, Views, pp. 184-85).
Click for image
8. [BIRD'S-EYE VIEW: TACOMA, WASHINGTON TERRITORY]. WELLGE, H. View of the City of Tacoma, W. T. Puget-Sound County Seat of Pierce Cty Pacific Terminus of the N.P.R.R. 1884. Madison: J. J. Stoner, 1884. Lithographic bird's-eye city view. Black and white. Image: 29.7 x 82.2 cm. (11-11-16 x 32-3/8 inches; image with text: 37.4 x 82.2 cm. (14-3/4 x 32-3/8 inches). Inset at lower right: Mount Tacoma, 14,444 Ft. High. Lower left: Beck & Pauli Litho. Milwaukee, Wis. Legend below identifies 31 buildings and lists 24 additional Tacoma businesses. One marginal tear at top blank margin neatly repaired, minor soiling and faint foxing (mainly confined to blank margins).
Second lithographic bird's-eye view of Tacoma (preceded by
Glover's view published in 1878). Reps, Cities on Stone 29; Views
4188 (6 copies); Panoramas of Promise 113 (Figure 31), p. 41: "By
comparing Wellge's Tacoma lithograph with Glover's work of just six years
earlier, one can see that the town's growth had been particularly swift; its
experience demonstrated the importance of rail transportation in the race for
urban supremacy. When Wellge drew the city, the Northern Pacific still had
another three years before completing its transcontinental line, but Tacoma
prospered from the promise of the future and a connection eastward via other
railroads." A wonderful view, simultaneously capturing the natural beauty of
the environment and the energetic terminal town on the Northern Pacific Railway
Click for image
Original Tintype of Thomas Borden, One of Austin's Old Three Hundred
9. [BORDEN, THOMAS, GAIL & FAMILY]. Photographic album containing 94 images: 81 silver print cartes-de-visite (some tinted), 2 tintypes (one of Thomas Borden), and 11 non-photographic prints. New York State, 1860s. The images are as originally housed, within heavy cardstock pages (52 pp.) with pre-printed gilt-bordered windows. Two of the window sleeves are empty. Over fifty of the subjects are identified in a contemporary hand. Presentation copy, inscribed: "Compliments of the season. Presented to Dr. Lewis Graves by the following patients under his charge at McDougall General Hospital, Fort Schuyler New York Jany. 1 1864," with the signatures of 17 men with their ranks, regiments, and home towns. Oblong 8vo, original ornate gilt leather album with brass clasps, gilt-stamped on upper cover The Photographic Album and with printed title-page (New York: D. Appleton, 1863). Binding rubbed and some edge wear, hinges broken; images exceptionally fine. Photographic images of Old Three Hundred members are seldom offered. Inventory of images upon request.
A fascinating photographic album, offering several avenues for research, including the Borden family, Civil War, medical history, and photography. The album was assembled by enlisted Union soldiers who were patients at McDougall General Hospital at Fort Schuyler, New York, to present to their physician, Dr. Graves, as a Christmas gift. Photographs include both officers in uniform and civilians (often physicians). Women and children are well represented. Several of the women may well have been nurses and other personnel at the hospital (one is identified as the "Extra Diet Kitchen Matron"). Other interesting images include the well-known image of Abraham Lincoln reading to his son Todd, the "boy general" George A. Custer, two composite photographs in which the same person is shown twice in a single scene, a photograph of amputee Benjamin Laughty in a hand-pump driven tricycle-wheeled carriage, and an unusually candid shot of an unposed mischievous little girl hiding behind a column.
The Texas interest in the album lies in the presence of photographs of Borden family members: Thomas Borden (Gail's brother), Louisa R. Borden (Thomas' wife), Emeline Eno Church Borden (Gail Borden's wife), and a photograph of a child "Gail Borden, Jun." A photograph of Gail Borden was once present, but the sleeve with his name is now empty. The Borden condensed milk factory was located near Fort Schuyler.
The Borden brothers, Gail and Thomas (New Handbook I:644-46), played pivotal roles in Texas history, arriving in the 1820s (Thomas was one of Austin's Old Three Hundred). Both were pioneer surveyors for Stephen F. Austin, inventors (including Borden's condensed milk), founders of the Telegraph and Texas Register ("the first newspaper in Texas to achieve a degree of permanence...the official organ of the Republic of Texas"&emdash;New Handbook VI:244), and actively participated in the Texas Revolutionary movement. Thomas assisted in laying out the city of Houston in 1836, founded the town Richmond, helped establish the first Baptist church in Galveston, constructed the first windmill on Galveston Island, etc. Gail created some of the