Dorothy Sloan -- Books

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October 26, 2007

Tongue-in-Cheek Texas Promotional

2. [ARANSAS HARBOR]. Tamper Bay Hotel. City of Aransas Harbor, Texas, C. L. Dignowity, Proprietor. W. D. Keith, Manager, Meals at all hours, day and night. Lunch between Meals. Rates, $16 per day; will take $1 per day. Special rates to officeseekers, owing to the high tariff [cover title]. N.p., n.d. [San Antonio, ca. 1896]. 6 pp., 3 text illustrations: photograph of a lady and two engravings by Mills: [1] untitled map of Aransas Harbor and environs; [2] “Ben-Hur” steam launch. 8vo (22 x 13 cm), original sage green pictorial wrappers with engraving of an imposing three-story pile of architecture, the supposed Tamper Bay Hotel, text on rectos and versos of wraps. Creased where formerly folded with short separations (no losses), wrappers with some browning and lightly chipped (a few minor losses), text leaves with small splits at folds and some minor chipping, especially at top (but few losses). Not in OCLC. An unusual survival of a fragile, ephemeral imprint.

            First edition. Not in CBC, Kelsey (Engraved Prints of Texas 1554-1900), or other sources. This publication appears to be part serious promotional and part squib. For example, the description of the area is perfectly straightforward in its description and praise of the area, as are the ads for Dignowity and Keith. On the other hand, the menu for the hotel and the explanation of its services are completely bogus, as is the letter in mutilated German printed on the inside of the back wrapper and the spoof menu on its verso (e.g., Ague Fits with Chilly Sauce, Cold Shoulder, Pulled Legs, Politician Larded with Hogg Fat, Cream of Society Pole Cat Soup, etc.). The point of this slender publication was apparently to interest investors and potential settlers with a combination of facts and humor. This pamphlet appeared at a time when speculation over the future of the area was rampant, and both money and people were pouring into the Aransas area. The Dignowity mentioned on the cover may be the son of Anthony Michael Dignowity (1810-1875), Czech-American writer, official, physician, abolitionist, and supposed swindler, who emigrated to Texas with a group of Arkansas volunteers for the Mexican-American War (see Handbook of Texas Online)-that is, if one wants to believe anything at all about this bizarre little fragment of Texas humor. (A C. L. Dignowity Addition in Aransas Pass does still exist today.) A unique promotional item. ($50-100)

Sold. Hammer: $125.00; Price Realized: $146.88

Auction 21 Abstracts

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