Dorothy Sloan -- Books

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Texas, California, the Southwest U.S., Mexico & the Borderlands:
Interesting books, broadsides, maps & ephemera

Lot 29

With the Hooker Map & Early Engravings of Scenes in Texas

29. [FISKE, M. (attributed)].  A Visit To Texas: Being The Journal Of A Traveller Through Those Parts Most Interesting To American Settlers.  With Descriptions Of Scenery, Habits, &c. &c.  New York: Goodrich & Wiley, 124 Broadway, 1834. iv, [9]-264, [4] pp. (p. 135 misnumbered 109), 4 copper-engraved plates, folding copper-engraved map with original hand coloring. 12mo, original dark slate green patterned cloth, title and vignette of a rampant horse in gilt on spine.  Shelf slanted, lower spine extremity chipped, binding moderately stained and worn (primarily at corners with a bit of board exposed), a few signatures shaken, free endpapers wanting, scattered foxing heavier on endpapers), light waterstaining to gutter margins of some signatures, overall a very good copy in original cloth.  Tear to map closed with old paper tape, but otherwise the map is in fine condition with strong coloring.  Contemporary ink ownership signature of A. Waitt above title.  Two later pencil inscriptions on pastedown.


Map of the State of Coahuila and Texas.  W. Hooker Sculpt. 26.5 x 32.5 cm (10-1/2 x 12-3/4 inches). Original extensive shading and outlining in color.


Mr. Neil’s Estate near Brazoria. [below neat line at right] Engd. by J. T. Hammond.  6.7 x 9 cm (2-5/8 x 3-1/2 inches).

Shooting A Deer On The Prairie. 6.7 x 9.5 cm (2-5/8 x 3-3/4 inches).

Lazoing A Horse On The Prairie [below neat line at right] Engd. by J. T. Hammond. 6.7 x 9.6 cm (2-5/8 x 3-3/4 inches).

Road Through A Cane Break [below neat line at right] Engd. by J. T. Hammond. 6.7 x 9.6 cm (2-5/8 x 3-3/4 inches).

     First edition. Bradford 5374. Clark, Old South III:114. Eberstadt, Texas 162:889. Graff 1336. Howes T145. Jenkins, Basic Texas Books 209. Jones 962.  Littell 1027. Phillips, Sporting Books, p. 388. Raines, p. 210.  95133. Streeter 1155 & p. 328. Streeter Sale 330. Taliaferro 241n. Vandale 187.

     Nobody is certain who wrote this important Texas book.  It has been attributed to an M. Fiske, a Col. Morris, or Asahel Langworthy, although Jenkins firmly rejects the last possibility.  Whoever wrote it, if his own statements are to be believed, arrived in Texas at Brazoria in March, 1831, munified with scrip for 20,000 acres of Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company holdings.  His first visit was to John McNeel, one of Austin's Old Three Hundred, who had a plantation in Brazoria County. He can hardly contain his growing sense of wonder, and his description of a gigantic, moss-covered live oak (pp. 37-38) is a classic.  After his visit with McNeel, his imagination is fired by his own prospects.  This generally favorable opinion of Texas remains throughout the rest of his visit, except for certain negative experiences, such as a constantly contrary white mustang, and a few unpleasant encounters, such as a potential threat to colonists at Anahuac from Mexican troops excited by a drunken lieutenant (pp. 131-132).

     The same charity did not extend, however, to the company from which he supposedly had purchased his land.  His motivation for his trip to Texas in the first place was "to examine the condition of a large tract of land I had purchased of the Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company, and to ascertain its value to settlers from the United States, by personal observation, as well as to satisfy myself concerning the soundness of the title which I had obtained" (p. [9]).  Although he had little difficulty in being convinced of the value of the land to settlers, he was frustrated and disappointed in his investigation of his land holdings.  In fact, he left Texas knowing that he had been cheated and that the Company could convey no land to him.  The various attacks on the Company sprinkled throughout the book are bitter, remorseless, and blunt.  Clearly he intended to save his compatriots from the same troubles.  In his parting shot he remarks, "On my return to N. York, I got from the Trustees of the Land Company neither remuneration nor sympathy for my fruitless expense and disappointment" (p. 261).  The publication of this work caused so much difficulty that the Company employed David Woodman to write his Guide to Texas Emigrants, a refutation of it published the next year.

     This work is often compared to Mary Austin Holley's Texas (1831).  This author ranged farther afield than Holley, who visited only Austin's colony, but lacked the benefit of Austin's personal assistance, which Holley received.  Unlike Holley, this author does not so overtly espouse Texas independence and also notes that Austin is jailed in Mexico (p. 262).  Other authors, such as David B. Edward and Karl Postl, silently plagiarized this author.

     The exquisite little copper-engraved plates accompanying this account are significant.  Streeter remarks that they are “thought to be the earliest to show sporting scenes in the West.”  They are assuredly among the early engravings of scenes in Texas, and among the early ones based on an eyewitness account (preceded only by Zebulon Pike).  The images are diminutive, yet precisely engraved with much fascinating detail.  What appear on first glance to be rather simple scenes, prove to be quite complex under magnification.  Little is known of engraver J. T. Hammond.  Mantle Fielding assesses Hammond as “a good line engraver of landscapes and subject plates,” suggests a birth date of c. 1803, and notes that he worked in Philadelphia and perhaps St. Louis (p. 369). 

     The excellent map by William Hooker showing Texas land grants, is highly compelling to many collectors of Texana. The map first appeared as a separate in 1833 and again, with revisions, in Holley’s 1833 book (see Streeter 1135 & 1136, Taliaferro 241). Hooker’s map, based on Austin’s monumental map but in smaller format, contains corrections given by Austin to Holley. The Hooker map in the present book does not have additional place locations in the 1836 Holley, identification of the Filisola grant, or manuscript additions.  The map in the present book does not have some features that are described by Streeter (1136) as being in the separately issued Hooker map of 1833 (absence of crosshatching on the Burnet, Vehlein, and Zavala grants, etc.).

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