Dorothy Sloan -- Books

Introduction to the Ranching Catalogue



This Ranching Catalogue evolved as a result of our firm accepting on consignment Dudley R. Dobie's massive library on Texas and the West. In truth, it was the two lovely editions of Mary Austin Holley's wonderful 1833 and 1836 guides to Texas that initially caused an acquisitive gleam to sparkle in my eyes. However, the first logical question was: "What in the world will we ever do with the other 49,998 books?" Confronted with a veritable avalanche of books, we decided to organize the material into subject catalogues that had the potential to enhance the understanding and bibliography of Texana and Western Americana. We began this process with our publication of the first catalogue of the Dudley R. Dobie, Sr. series, devoted entirely to the life and work of his cousin, J. Frank Dobie. Over 3,500 individual items were offered in our Catalogue Ten (Part 1), the J. Frank Dobie Catalogue. Our next catalogue in this series was for an auction of select rarities from Dudley R. Dobie's library. The third catalogue in the series was our Catalogue Ten (Part 3), documenting the life and work of master printer Carl Hertzog of El Paso (over 1,100 entries). Serendipity reigned, and we were asked to handle Carl Hertzog's own library, which was included in, and greatly enhanced, the Dudley R. Dobie Hertzog catalogue.

The present catalogue is the fourth in the Dudley R. Dobie series, and it is devoted entirely to the subject of ranching. This is but the first installment (letters A-C) of the four parts of the Ranching Catalogue. After the four parts of this Ranching Catalogue, the other catalogues to be published in the Dudley R. Dobie series will be Texas County and Local History; the Big Bend; and a quite extensive auction of general Texana and Western Americana.

At the moment when we were on the verge of publishing the first part of the Dudley R. Dobie Ranching Catalogue, the Autry Museum of Western Heritage in Los Angeles approached our firm about handling their duplicates from the collection of Fred R. Rosenstock, the well-known Colorado bookman. Several years ago, the Autry Museum astutely purchased the fabulous Rosenstock Collection as the foundation of their important Research Center library. After several years spent selecting all of the books and other materials appropriate to the Autry Museum's institutional scope, the Museum was left with a huge number of Western Americana duplicates, rivaling in number those of the Dudley R. Dobie Library. Fred Rosenstock and Dudley R. Dobie were both avid bookmen and respectable bibliomaniacs whose passion led them to accrue vast numbers of books.

With the library of Dudley R. Dobie, Sr., I already had more books than I ever imagined would pass through my hands in my professional life. Thus, I felt some trepidation about taking on yet another huge consignment of books from the Autry Museum. But all caution and prudence were thrown to the four winds in the blink of an eye when I visited the Autry Museum to view their Rosenstock duplicates. Never had I seen such enticing "leftovers" as those that remained after the Research Center staff had made their selections of material to retain for their library. Among the very first books spied on the shelf was a very fine copy of the first printing of E. C. ("Teddy Blue") Abbott's We Pointed Them North: Recollections of a Cowpuncher edited by Helena Huntington Smith and illustrated by Ross Santee (appropriately, Item 1 in the present catalogue). Not only was the Rosenstock duplicate of Abbott's book in wonderful condition, it also had the elusive dust jacket! That was one of the books that Dudley R. Dobie did not have in a first edition in his collection. That was it-one of those fateful moments when the door opens wide and one falls through. Never mind practicality. Never mind that each day has only twenty-four hours. Never mind the questionable bottom line. It suddenly seemed not only proper and desirable, but absolutely necessary, that I boldly assume responsibility for not only the Dudley R. Dobie Library, but the Autry-Rosenstock duplicates as well.

As I worked my way through a swift inspection of the huge gathering of Autry-Rosenstock duplicates, I became more and more excited in realizing how perfectly the Dobie and Rosenstock ranching books complemented one another. Dobie's collection emphasized Texas and the Southwest, with interesting inroads into Mexico and Argentina. Rosenstock's collection, while rich in Texas material, had great strengths in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, California, and the Pacific Northwest. Between the two collections, the range of variants, editions, and unique association copies was marvelous. Here was a unique opportunity not only to catalogue and sell good, solid books, but to do something significant with them that would honor both Dobie and Rosenstock.

I must admit that deciding how to organize the sale of these tens of thousands of books was a dilemma for us, since we are much more accustomed and inclined to deal with the few, select rarities, such as rare cartography, high spots of Western Americana and Texas, or the Zamorano Eighty collection of the most important books on California. Seeing the large number of mint copies of the worthy Arthur H. Clark publications, our first step was to create a bulletin of those wonderful titles as a way of gingerly dipping our toes into a vast river of Western Americana in which we feared we might drown. Next, we conducted a careful roundup of the Rosenstock duplicates that related to ranching. This meant reviewing tens of thousands of books and pulling titles found in Ramon Adams' bibliography, The Rampaging Herd: A Bibliography of Books and Pamphlets on Men and Events in the Cattle Industry (Item 54 herein). Since Adams' bibliography was published in 1959, we encountered many ranching books published after Adams' book was completed; of course, we added those books. In reviewing every single Rosenstock duplicate, we also discovered many books that were not in Herd, but which had good ranching content, or in some way illuminated the wide horizon or the nooks and crannies of the cattle country. We felt that such books offer important insights and present an opportunity for libraries and collectors with ranching collections to expand their existing holdings in a meaningful way with Western Americana titles of tangential interest.

When we went back to the ever-patient and understanding Dobie family and explained what we wished to do with respect to the Dobie Ranching Catalogue, Marcelle Dobie Smith, Dudley R. Dobie, Jr., and Jim Dobie graciously agreed to allow us take temporary leave from their consignment to work with the Autry Museum of Western Heritage in Los Angeles. In November of 1999 we conducted an auction at the Autry Museum of the non-ranching Rosenstock duplicates-over 20,000 individual items relating to American and Western history. The Autry staff, including Manola de la Madrid, Jeanette Hoskinson, Sharon Johnson (rest in peace), Kevin Mulroy, and many other hardy souls at the Museum kindly assisted us in this unusually large undertaking.

Next we brought the Rosenstock duplicates of ranching titles from Los Angeles to Austin, where we had constructed a special climate-controlled library with compact shelving to properly and securely house the Rosenstock and Dobie ranching books. The fortuitous commingling of these ranching books, along with other consignments from generous, interested parties, is the catalogue you now hold in your hands (or view over the Internet); three additional parts to this Ranching Catalogue will be published over the next year and a half.

Perhaps we are not the most fit to loose this motley herd on the bibliophilic world. We find particular delight in the arcane corners of the cattle country, such as photographs of herding turkeys in Texas, a little gem of an essay on horse slobber, and epic gaucho poetry. Other tales that piqued our interest involved the heartbreak of a tough cowboy reduced to licking horse sweat from his saddle after the chuck wagon's salt was lost on a rough trail drive; the daring introduction of the "divided skirt" for women riding astride in Ouray County, Colorado; Philip St. George Cooke's account of "The Battle of the Bulls" during the 1846-1847 Mormon Battalion march across the jornada de muerte from New Mexico to California; a masked ball in wild and woolly Deadwood at which one lady wore a dress emblazoned with all the regional cattle brands; Captain Jack Crawford's hilarious account of "Broncho vs. Bicycle," complete with wacky photographs; and little girls trapped atop a large boulder on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake, terrorized by wild cattle.

We have been fascinated to encounter material that falls outside of the usual Marlboro-man stereotype: a good selection on women in the cattle country; many accounts and descriptions of gauchos, charros, and vaqueros; several items relating to Australian and aboriginal cowhands; an account of rustling problems in the Boer Wars; a great number of items on the Spanish missions and the Spanish Southwest (generally unheralded in spite of their foundational role for the cattle trade in the Americas); an account of a vaquero's experiences in the 1950s on the Dadanawa Ranch near the Guyana-Brazil border on the Rupununi River; two rare and early ephemera on the Calgary Stampede; an uncommon, lively chromolithographed program for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in 1893; and much, much more.

The history of the cattle industry is the history of far more than just cowboys, trail drives, and ranching. It is the history of the spread of European domination over the landscapes of the American West, and indeed, much of the New World. While trappers were generally the first to open a new region, discovering and establishing trails, and decimating select species of native fauna, it was cattlemen who wedged open the door for an incoming flood of "civilization." When opening a new frontier, livestock raising was often the first major endeavor, allowing both subsistence and a chance for some economic gain in regions where no infrastructure or economy was yet in place. The vast herds of bison that once roamed the American West, and the Native Americans, so many of whom were dependent on the bison, were cleared to make way for domesticated grazers. Once the perils of the frontier were somewhat mitigated by the persistent presence of the cattlemen, others-more civilized, more fearful, or both-began to arrive and establish homesteads, settlements, towns, and agriculture. As settlement increased, so too did land-use conflicts, and thus arose the need for fencing and the invention of barbed wire.

Just as cattle came to dominate many Western landscapes, so too has the mythic image of the American cowboy branded itself upon the American psyche. The cowboy was larger than life even at the beginning of his fleeting hey-day (from the end of the Civil War to the mid-1880s). Sometimes the individual cowboy had difficulty swaggering up to his own self-imposed tough stereotype. The average age of the American cowboy was twenty-four years, about one in three was Mexican or Black, and the most common end for a cowboy was being dragged to his death by his horse. These young men were as various as any group, despite facile typecasting, and the "real" face of the cowboy is not so easy to discern. In fact, the "real" face of the approximately forty thousand men who rode the range is approximately forty thousand faces. Values like courage, individuality, stoicism, and freedom are often associated with the American cowboy, but in the early days, the term "cowboy" was sometimes used to refer to outlaws. The term "cowboy" is said to have been the name used for armed Tories in the American Revolution who softly clanged cowbells to lure patriot farmers into being ambushed in the brush while searching for lost cows.

Contradictions abound regarding the cowboy, and little wonder this is, when one considers the time and place in which the American cowboy dwelled. Against a background of rigid Victorian values, the cowboy lived desperately by the tough Code of the West, often in hazardous conditions, and with his employer having scant regard for his welfare. The cowboy pitted his body and mind against a landscape of sweeping grandeur which often was rife with misery and death.

The dichotomy between the glamorous mystique of the cowboy and the stark reality of his harsh and frequently mundane life is one of the most intriguing aspects of the many historical and cultural threads relating to cowboys and ranching. What does this mythologizing tell us about our culture? Are we searching for an American identity, or are these creative and sometimes ludicrous and humorous interpretations a result of idealized notions? As postmodern life becomes more complex and technology increasingly pervasive, are we attempting to hearken back to the seeming simplicity of a pastoral existence that is for the most part gone with the wind? Perhaps the answer is more simple. Recently a friend emailed that because he feels concern about his adolescent son's values and rebelliousness, he is planning a working vacation this summer with his son on their family ranch on the Montana-North Dakota border, far from urban trappings. He wrote: "Ranching is a life attached to the land, simple and fundamental. I want him to learn as I did. I never learned so much as when I was left in charge of all the cattle calving on their own in blizzards with me to keep the coyotes at bay and help them through birthing. It's remarkable, the cycle of it all."

Fascination with ranching history and the cowboy has spawned an incredible wealth of printed material. It sometimes seems that almost any historical account of the American West will yield information and asides on cattle and ranching if examined closely enough. We were interested to learn that the Hudson's Bay Company for a time held a virtual monopoly on the incipient cattle trade in the Pacific Northwest. The most unpromising Utah county history might reveal the surprising information that not only the entire town, but sometimes even their livestock, were hired out as extras when Westerns were filmed in the region. Through the pages of this catalogue (and the next three in this series), many lesser-known corners of the cattle county will come to light: the Southern Trail whereby Texas cattlemen supplied California and the miners for several decades; Wild West shows other than Buffalo Bill Cody's; rustling not just by Native Americans but also from them; women and children in the cattle country; the economic side of ranching; and rodeo and its evolution.

In Bill Reese's excellent bibliography, Six Score: The 120 Best Books on the Range Cattle Industry, we found the following quote which really says it all from the collecting perspective: "[Philip Ashton Rollins] was one of the great collectors of Western Americana.... He once walked into Charles Everitt's store in New York and said he wanted 'every damn book that says cow in it.' All great cattle collectors since have observed this maxim" (Reese, Six Score 92). And while we were sorely tempted to cast our lasso that wide, we chose to let some of the mavericks go, facing the reality that oxen and dairy cows really do not belong in this corral. Even so, we cannot resist observing that some ranchers in California made their start in ranching by purchasing and nurturing the exhausted, emaciated oxen that had faithfully transported the overlanders west.

Because this is a bookseller's catalogue, and not a bibliography or the catalogue of a comprehensive collection, the selections herein are of necessity dictated by our stock on hand, and in no way represent any attempt at completeness. We certainly hope that we do not see future statements of "Not in Dobie-Rosenstock." There are quite a few important and rare ranching books that will not make their appearance in these pages, we are sorry to say (consignments of ranching rarities are invited and encouraged!). However, we believe that the variety and depth of the material that is present will compensate for any shortfall. And while some high spots may be missing from these pages, there is virtually no corner of ranching history that is not illuminated: all of the great cattle trails, and a few quite obscure ones; every aspect of life and work on the range, from equipage, roping, and branding to chuck wagons, entertainment, and outlawry; range wars great and small; the coming of fences and the cutting of fences; nesters and cattle barons. This wealth of information comes in many forms, including ephemera, fiction, poetry, photo-essays, art, scholarly studies, and innumerable biographical accounts. Most of the Western illustrators are well represented, including Frederick S. Remington, Charles M. Russell, Ross Santee, Edward Borein, E. Boyd Smith, Maynard Dixon, Tom Lea, and José Cisneros.

Aside from content, the books herein are interesting purely from the standpoint of collecting. One would be hard-pressed to find a private collection of ranching books with so many binding variants and as many signed and association copies. There are many books from the libraries of Carl Hertzog, Dudley R. Dobie, Sr., and J. Frank Dobie. Those from J. Frank's Dobie's library often bear his manuscript notations in regard to the book (some of Pancho's comments are quite caustic, to say the least). Often the books offered here are exceptionally fine copies, and many scarce dust jackets are present.

Since ranching is such a pervasive element in the American West and its history, this catalogue also presents an excellent cross-section of Western Americana. Every Western state is represented in these pages, and there are many local and regional histories that provide information at great depth. Perhaps nothing makes the ubiquity of stockraising so clear as how this effort was undertaken upon every variety of Western landscape-from the arid brush country of South Texas to the lush Pacific Northwest, and from the Great Plains to the Rocky Mountains and on to the shores of the Pacific. Every era from early Spanish exploration to the present is covered. And while most early explorations were clearly ruled out as having no relation to the cattle trade, many other facets of the West are well represented: fur trade and mountain men, overland narratives, mining, railroads and transportation, Native Americans, military history, women's history, social history, material culture, law and lawlessness, Black history, natural history, agriculture, literature, local history, economics, politics, missions and missionaries, etc.

We are pleased to have gathered so many items in Adams's The Rampaging Herd and surprised that we have even more from Adams's Six-Guns and Saddle Leather: A Bibliography of Books and Pamphlets on Western Outlaws and Gunmen (Item 57). Although we do not have all of the titles in Merrill's Aristocrats or Reese's Six Score, in the four parts of the Ranching Catalogue, we are offering a very respectable grouping of those collectibles. And while this catalogue contains many appealing and arcane detours in the cattle country that allow an expanded and enhanced view of ranching, bedrock ranching books are abundant throughout.

We have learned a great deal in working with these books. We hope that you will enjoy this catalogue as much as we have enjoyed compiling it.

Dorothy Sloan


Ranch Catalogue Table of Contents Home
View first group of Ranch items