Dorothy Sloan -- Books

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80. LEA, Tom. The King Ranch. Kingsville: Printed [by Carl Hertzog] for the King Ranch, 1957. [14], 467 [1 blank], [2] + [10] [469]-706, [2 blank], 707-838, [2] pp. (plus added blank leaves), illustrations by the author (some in color), maps, facsimiles. 2 vols., square 8vo, original natural linen with the King Ranch “Running W” brand. Very fine, with Carl Hertzog’s ink presentation to Bill Waterhouse on front pastedown of Vol. 1. Trial copy, inscribed as such by Carl Hertzog, variant trial mesquite end sheets in both maize and green, a few pasteovers, notes, etc. Vol. 2 has the experimental splattering on the upper and lower edges of the binding, an attempt to ameliorate the shiny cut edges that are visible on Vol. 1. Among other features of the book are that the Table of Contents and illustration list in Vol. 1 have been corrected by pasteovers. For in-depth discussion of the production and research that went into making this work, see Bruce S. Cheeseman and Al Lowman, "The Book of all Christendom" (Kingsville, 1992).

     First edition, limited edition, the Saddle Blanket edition, produced exclusively for the King Ranch; first issue (Vol. 2, p. 507, first word is “Alice.”). Basic Texas Books 121A: “This is the best account of the most famous ranch in the world.” Campbell, My Favorite 101 Books about the Cattle Industry 56. CBC 2785 (plus 3 additional entries). Adams, Herd 1319. Dykes, Collecting Range Life Literature, p. 16; Fifty Great Western Illustrators (Lea 65); Western High Spots, p. 79 (“A Range Man’s Library”): “Belongs in any range man’s library”; p. 102 (“The Texas Ranch Today”). Hinshaw & Lovelace, Lea 114. King, Women on the Cattle Trail and in the Roundup, p. 17: “This ranch history includes substantial information about Henrietta King.” Lowman, Printer at the Pass 99n: “This book was originally planned as a 250-300 page private edition to be published on the occasion of the ranch centennial in 1953, but it grew steadily for the next four years.... The project grew from a modest private edition to a two-volume, 838-page trade book. The physical dimensions of the books itself, the 16-point Centaur type of the text, the ample page margins, and the expansive chapter head designs all suggest the vastness of the ranch. Typesetting was inspected page by page to insure that bad spacing and bad breaks were avoided. An original color technique was developed for color separation in the four, five, and seven-color illustrations.... The special edition was printed on all rag paper made especially for this book by the Curtis Paper Company. It is bound in heavy crush linen resembling the King Ranch saddle blanket with the running ‘W’ brand”; Printing Arts in Texas, p. 54: “Tom Lea’s history of the King Ranch is one of the most important books ever to emerge from a Texas background. Its typographical achievement is equally distinguished.” Reese, Six Score 69: “Perhaps the most exhaustive ranch history ever written, and a tremendous account of the cattle industry of south Texas.”

     In 1885 Henrietta King inherited the debt-ridden ranch 500,000-acre ranch from her visionary but impractical husband. She ran the ranch until her death in 1925, developing important and early scientific techniques for beef production. The Santa Gertrudis breed, for which the King Ranch is now renowned, started under her direction. At her death, the ranch had grown to well over a million acres and she had cleared all debts, leaving an estate of over $5 million. 2 vols. ($1,500-3,000)

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