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Pingenot Auction, Lot 24

24. [BORDERLANDS]. COMISION DE LA PESQUISIDORA DE LAS FRONTERA DEL NOROESTE. Reports of the Committee of Investigation Sent in 1873 by the Mexican Government to the Frontier of Texas. Translated from the Official Edition Made in Mexico. New York: Baker & Goodwin, Printers, 1875. viii, [3]-443 pp., 3 folding lithographed maps with colored outlining or shading: (1) A Map of the Indian Territory Northern Texas and New Mexico Showing the [G]reat Western Prairies by Josiah Gregg, 32 x 38.3 cm; 12-1/4 x 15 inches; (2) ...Mapa de S. Mc. L. Staples...especialmente le parte mas al norte i la derecha del Rio Bravo, 38.4 x 26.2 cm; 15-1/4 x 10-1/8 inches; (3) Mapa del Rio Grande desde su desembocadura en el golfo hasta San Vicente, Presidio Antiguo by M. J. Martinez, 80.4 x 72.3 cm; 32 x 28-1/2 inches (See Day, Maps of Texas, p. 87). 8vo, later full smooth tan calf, spine gilt with raised bands. Some splits to first map neatly reinforced (no losses), embossed library stamp on title, otherwise very fine.
        First American edition and first edition in English of one of the most important borderlands reports (published the same year in Mexico, in Spanish). Adams, Guns 1108; Herd 558 & 2264: "Rare. The northern frontier question and cattle and horse stealing." Decker 37:340: "Scarce and informative...of great documentary value." Graff 2765. Eberstadt 122:97 (no mention of maps). Howes I32 (see also T143). Palau 119576-8. Tate, The Indians of Texas: An Annotated Research Bibliography 2469: "The Mexican government ordered publication of this English translation of an official report on Indian and bandit depredations along both sides of the Rio Grande." In response to recurring Indian depredations and increase of cattle rustling on the Texas-Mexican border, a Mexican commission was formed to investigate charges by the U.S. that the crimes were committed by Mexicans and Indians. This report, which the Mexican government ordered in an English translation, absolves the Mexicans of wrongdoing and accuses the U.S. of connivance. Pingenot: A respected southwestern scholar who examined this copy at length commented that for its period it was comparable in importance to the Pichardo treatise for the colonial period of history.
        This report can be found from time to time, but seldom with the important maps. The first map conforms to the map found in Gregg’s classic Commerce of the Prairie, with an added legend in Spanish. See Wheat, Mapping of the Transmississippi West 482 & I, p. 486: "A cartographic landmark." Also, consult John L. Allen, "Patterns of Promise" in Mapping the North American Plains (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987), p. 51 & Fig. 3. This report and the Mexican version of the Gregg map are not mentioned in Rittenhouse in his bibliography on the Santa Fe Trail. The second map, by M. J. Martinez, depicts the area of Coahuila and Nuevo Leon followed by the raiding parties. The third and largest map (dated at Monterey, December 1873) shows the Rio Grande from its mouth to the Big Bend region. This important, little-known, and rare map of portions of Texas, Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, and Tamaulipas is one of the most detailed maps of the region for that period, showing each state along the border, towns, rivers, mountains, roads, forts, lakes, and every Mexican and American ranch. No copy of this report has appeared at auction for the past thirty-five years.