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198. THORP, N[athan] Howard (“Jack”). Songs of the Cowboys. Estancia, New Mexico: News Print Shop, [1908]. [3] 50 pp. 12mo, original gilt-pictorial red wrappers, stapled (as issued). Except for crack at lower hinge, very fine. Laid in is author’s three-page, 4to manuscript of lyrics for “Pecos Tom” written on Thorp’s livestock company letterhead, signed “Jack Thorp” and with his Diamond T brand.

     First edition of the first book of cowboy songs, also author’s first book. Campbell, p. 222. Dobie, p. 129: “Thorp had the perspective of both range and civilization. He was a kind of troubadour himself.” Dykes, Kid 56: “The first of the compilations of cowboy songs.” Merrill, Aristocrats of the Cow Country, pp. 10, 25: “There is no record of an ‘honest to goodness’ cowboy ever becoming a ‘songbird,’ in fact, few of the breed could carry a tune, nevertheless, the nature of their work was such that whistling, humming, and singing were important personal assets that helped to make short days out of long ones, and most of them gave it a fling.... [A] puny little book that sold for a classed as excessively rare.” Reese, Six Score 73n. Saunders 4673a. Vandale 185. Thorp not only compiled the collection, but wrote five of the twenty-three songs. The laid-in manuscript song (“Pecos Tom”) was published in the author’s 1921 anthology of cowboy songs.

     Thorp (1867-1940) was a collector of cowboy poetry and songs for nearly twenty years, an activity he started in the late 1800s.  This is his first publication of his collecting activities, which would be revisited in 1921 in a vastly expanded edition.  ($1,200-2,400)

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