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Auction 12: The Zamorano 80 Collection of Daniel G. Volkmann Jr.

Lots 60 & 60A

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Item 60. Pattie’s Personal Narrative—“The first book directed at an American audience to call attention to California’s beauty and potential...the second overland journey to California...the first printed account of an overland trek to California” (Kurutz).

60. PATTIE, James O[hio] (1803 or 1804-1833?). The Personal Narrative of James O. Pattie, of Kentucky, during an Expedition from St. Louis, through the Vast Regions between That Place and the Pacific Ocean, and Thence Back through the City of Mexico to Vera Cruz, during Journeyings of Six Years; in Which He and His Father, Who Accompanied Him, Suffered Unheard of Hardships and Dangers, Had Various Conflicts with the Indians, and Were Made Captives, in Which Captivity His Father Died; Together with a Description of the Country, and the Various Nations through Which They Passed. Edited by Timothy Flint. Cincinnati: John H. Wood, 1831. 300 pp., 5 engraved plates by W. Woodruff of Cincinnati. 12mo, original tree sheep, original dark reddish brown gilt-lettered spine label. Binding rubbed and worn (outer layer of tree calf cracked, especially at spine, where some long, thin sections of the unfinished layer of leather beneath is exposed), hinges cracked but strong; interior browned, spotted, and with moderate to heavy foxing; a few old repairs to paper, second engraving with some marginal chipping and one repair (not affecting image); fourth plate with a few short, closed tears (affecting only blank margin); last engraving with a few closed tears barely touching top border and slightly extending into image (no loss of blank margins, border, or image). Front endpapers with contemporary pencil scribbles and name Darren(?) G. Wood. Back endpapers bear early penciled calculations, and John Howell–Books cost code (gsytxq). Exceedingly rare. Only two copies have sold at auction since 1975, the Holliday-Siebert copy and the Henry H. Clifford copy.
First edition of “the first printed narrative of an overland journey to California” (Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 60). American Imprints 31:8634. Barrett, Baja California 1963n. Cowan I, p. 174: “Of excessive rarity.” Cowan II, p. 476. Eberstadt 120:64n: “First printed narrative of an Anglo American to penetrate the Arizona Country.” Farquhar, Books of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon 10 (citing the 1833 and 1930 editions): “The best starting point for any study of the early trappers on the Gila and other southerly tributaries of the Colorado.... The original editions of Pattie’s narrative, 1831 and 1833, are so rarely found outside of permanent collections, such as the Huntington, that they are not listed here.” Field 1186. Graff 3216. Holliday 857. Howell, Anniversary Catalogue 94; Catalogue 50, California 186. Howes P123: “Second overland journey to California, first over the route taken, with adventures incredible had they had not been substantiated by later investigations.” Jones 920. LC, California Centennial 95. Libros Californianos (Bliss list), p. 17. Plains & Rockies IV:45:1: “Camp notes that few copies of this edition seem to have sold because few copies are known to be in existence today.” Powell, Southwestern Book Trails, p. 37; Southwestern Century 75: “One of the earliest sources in English on the Southwest.” Rittenhouse 452: “A classic on the Southwest...more than an incidental Santa Fe Trail item.... Editor Flint included an appended account of a trip over the Santa Fe Trail in 1825 by a Dr. Willard: Inland Trade with New Mexico. This is a useful and important source in itself.” Streeter Sale 3138 (illustrated at p. 2142): “The second overland journey to California. The first expedition, under Jedediah Smith, antedates it by several months.” Walker, A Literary History of Southern California, pp. 11-22: “The first book of literary merit to deal with the trade to New Mexico, the pursuit of beaver in the Southwest, and the advent of Americans by land in California.” Zamorano 80 #60 (J. Gregg Layne): “Both the first and second editions of the Pattie Narrative are of extreme rarity.” Of Texas interest is “The Downfall of the Fredonian Republic” (pp. 289-91).
The five engraved plates are: “Rescue of an Indian Child. Engd. by W. Woodruff Cini.”; “Mr. Pattie wounded by an Indian arrow. Engd.. by W. Woodruff Cini.”; “Shooting Mr. Pattie’s Horse. Engd. by W. Woodruff Cini.”; “Messrs. Pattie and Slover rescued from Famish. Engd. by W. Woodruff Cini.”; and “Burial of Mr. Pattie. Engd. by W. Woodruff Cini.” Engraver W. Woodruff is not listed by Hamilton (Early American Book Illustrators and Wood Engravers), but seems to be the William Wood listed by Fielding, who comments: “Engraver of portraits and landscapes. He was in business in Philadelphia in 1817-24. He worked quite well in both line and stipple. After 1824 he apparently removed to Cincinnati, as we find prints by him engraved in that city. Died February 26, 1852.” ($20,000-40,000)

60A. [PATTIE, James Ohio]. Early Western Travels 1748-1846.... Reuben Gold Thwaites.... Vol. XVIII...Pattie’s Personal Narrative, 1824-1830.... Cleveland: Arthur H. Clark Company, 1905. 379 [4] pp., plates (halftones after plates in original edition). 8vo, original burgundy cloth, gilt-lettered spine, t.e.g. Spine faded, covers with some spotting and rubbing, hinges a bit loose. Laid in is Dawson’s invoice to Beatrice Simpson Volkmann in the amount of $20, dated January 26, 1957.
Scholarly edition, being vol. 18 from Arthur H. Clark’s Early Western Travels Series. Clark & Brunet, The Arthur H. Clark Company 253. ($50-100)


This mountain man’s narrative, while providing an entertaining and fantastic Western travel adventure, ranks as the first book directed at an American audience to call attention to California’s beauty and potential. Pattie enthusiastically described California’s “beautiful and sublime scenery” and its advantages of “healthfulness, a good soil, temperate climate, and...vicinity to the sea.” More superlatives are attached to this title. The Patties made the second overland journey to California, following that of Jedediah Strong Smith, and consequently, this book has the distinction of being the first printed account of an overland trek to California and its publication further opened up the Southwest to increased exploration and American expansion. Franklin Walker in his masterful A Literary History of Southern California wrote, “Although its accuracy has been questioned and its spirit criticized, it remains the epic of the mountain men, perhaps more truly representing their attitudes, their experiences, and their adventures than any other book that has appeared on the subject.”
Following the death of his wife, Sylvester Pattie and his Kentucky-born and literate, observant son, James Ohio Pattie, headed off in 1824 for a life of incomparable adventure in the wilderness as summarized in the lengthy subtitle of The Personal Narrative. During this trapping expedition, they were among the first Americans to reach Santa Fe, scour the Grand Canyon country, and descend the Gila. Their peregrinations took them to California in 1828 but their appearance alarmed Mexican authorities causing them to be thrust into a flea-infested San Diego jail. There the senior Pattie died. The surviving Pattie secured his release by helping the Mexican governor fend off a smallpox (actually measles) epidemic that ravaged the mostly Indian population. Pattie claimed to have vaccinated 22,000 by himself, a fantastic number. Winning his freedom, he toured California, visited the Russian settlement at Fort Ross, and came to the aid of the governor again by helping to put down one of California’s many revolutions. Following a visit to Mexico City and Vera Cruz, Pattie returned home to Kentucky in 1830.
Key to the success of Pattie’s narrative was a chance encounter in Cincinnati with Timothy Flint, a Harvard graduate, missionary, and frontier novelist. Flint saw a once-in-a-lifetime literary opportunity after learning of the backwoodsman’s amazing story. As pointed out by Walker, Pattie represented the quintessential Westerner, the natural successor to Daniel Boone. Together, the two created the prototypical Western adventure story. Flint claimed merely to be the editor but it is generally accepted that he played a much larger role. Historians have long analyzed the text for accuracy and speculated how much is based on an actual journal, how much Pattie dictated to Flint, and how much Flint himself wrote. While parts of the narrative are true, the Dictionary of American Biography concluded: “It is, however, to be classed as semi-fiction rather than as history.” The five plates engraved by W. Woodruff depicting dramatic scenes further excited the reader’s imagination.
Charles Camp, in The Plains and the Rockies, details the publishing history of this frontier epic. Copyrighted by Woods in 1831, the book apparently did not sell well. In 1833, E. H. Flint, the editor’s nephew and a Cincinnati book dealer, took possession of the unsold copies and added a new title page with his own copyright. The insertion of the new title and date has caused some bibliographic confusion. In addition, Wagner-Camp documents four copyright variations. A pirated edition, The Hunters of Kentucky under the pseudonym of Benjamin Bilson, was produced in response to the interest in the Southwest caused by the Mexican-American War. Several modern editions have been published with introductions by such noted historians as Milo Milton Quaife and William H. Goetzmann. The latest edition is The Personal Narrative of James O. Pattie, edited by Richard Batman (Missoula: Mountain Press Publishing Company, 1988).

——Gary F. Kurutz

Additional sources consulted: Richard Batman, American Ecclesiastes: The Stories of James Ohio Pattie (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984); Robert Glass Cleland, A History of California: The American Period (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1939), pp. 61-74; James D. Hart, American Images of Spanish California, pp. 2-3; Franklin Walker, A Literary History of Southern California (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1950), pp. 11-22; Henry Wagner, The Plains and the Rockies.... Revised and Extended by Charles L. Camp (San Francisco: Grabhorn Press, 1937), entry #45.

Item 60. Engraved plates from the first edition of Pattie’s Personal Narrative.