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A Mine of Mining Ephemera

99. [MINING]. FRASER AND CHALMERS, CHICAGO. Sammelband of 30 of the firm’s catalogues. Chicago, 1889-1892. Presentation binding. 8vo, full contemporary brown blind-embossed roan with gilt lettering on upper cover reading “Compliments of Fraser & Chalmers, Chicago” and on spine reading “Fraser and Chalmers. Complete Set Of Catalogues”; bevelled edges, a.e.g. Roan slightly scuffed and faded with old label attached to spine with thin strip of cellotape, floral moiré endpapers. Very fine. Although unsigned, from the library of General Juan N. Méndez (1820-1894), who fought in most of Mexico’s late nineteenth-century wars, including both the U.S. and French invasions. He twice served as governor of Puebla.

     Of special interest for Western mining is a separate reprint for distribution of T. A. Rickard’s 1889 Gold Milling in the Black Hills, South Dakota, and at Grass Valley, California (American Institute of Mining Engineers Transactions, v. 25, pp. 906-928), the text of which provides an interesting example of the advances in technology required by large-scale mining operations.

     Various editions of thirty separate catalogues and offprints concerning Fraser and Chalmers’ mining machinery and mining topics. Most are heavily illustrated and some have folded plates, including one, for example, of a complete stamping mill provided by the company. The firm was one of the leading mining equipment manufacturers in the world. Founded in 1871, the company merged with several other firms to form what became the present-day Allis-Chalmers Company, a leading producer of farm equipment. Reflecting their wide experience in the industry, the company in the introduction to the first catalogue lists the countries in which its machinery is used, including Spain, Mexico, Portugal, Russia, and the Philippines. Also of interest is their grasp of the sometimes difficult circumstances under which miners operate. They remark, for example, on their “facilities for the manufacture of sectional machinery adapted for transportation on pack animals in mountainous districts.” The company, nevertheless, was also on the cutting edge of industrial technology; one item they manufactured and supplied were Corliss steam engines, at the time a leading industrial power plant.

     Because this copy was in Méndez’s possession, it seems likely that he obtained it directly from the company and referred to it for potential mining operations in the Mexican state of Puebla. All Fraser and Chalmers catalogues are now rare. ($750-1,000)

Sold. Hammer: $750.00; Price Realized: $881.25

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