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October 26, 2007

“The Vade Mecum of Manifest Destiny”-Kurutz
Frémont Report with the Rufus Sage Map

53. FRÉMONT, J[ohn] C[harles] & [Jessie Benton Frémont]. Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the year 1842; and to Oregon and North California, in the Years 1843-44. By Brevet Capt. J. C. Fremont, of the Topographical Engineers, under the Orders of Col. J. J. Abert, Chief of Top. Bureau. Syracuse: Published by Hall & Dickson; New York: A. S. Barnes & Co., 1847. 427 [1 blank], 4 (publishers’ ads) pp., 2 untitled wood-engraved plates: [1] unattributed mountaineering scene with Frémont planting U.S. flag on a peak, op. p. 103; [2] soldiers with Native Americans op. p. 323, engraved by Chase from a design from artist William Henry Burr), lithograph map on bank note paper: Map of Oregon, California, New Mexico, N.W. Texas & the Proposed Territory of Ne-Bras-Ka. By Rufus B. Sage. 1846. F. Michelin’s Lith. 111, Nassau St N.Y. (neat line to neat line: 44.7 x 60.7 cm; overall sheet size: 48.7 x 61.7 cm. 8vo (20 x 13.8 cm), publisher’s original dark brown blind-embossed ribbed cloth, gilt pictorial spine with gilt lettering. Binding lightly rubbed and with minor shelf wear, corners lightly bumped, slight tide line affecting only a small section of outer edge of text block at lower right corner (not affecting text or map), generally very good to fine, very clean copy. Map: Trimmed close into right neat line, left margin somewhat split and browned, creased where folded, overall very good to fine. A desirable copy of the book, with the rare Sage map and in original binding.

             Early commercial edition of Frémont’s epochal report, abridged from the official version. The earliest edition came out in official government reports from the House and Senate in 1845, followed rapidly by reprints from the official editions and variants. Following a commercial edition put out by Henry Polkinhorn in 1845 (Plains & Rockies IV:115:3), numerous commercial editions appeared in 1846 and 1847 in the U.S. and abroad, including the present edition. This is the only edition of Frémont’s narrative to contain the Sage map, and Howes (F370) calls this Syracuse 1847 edition with the map the “best edition.” Graff 1433. Hill I, p. 113. Hill II:642 (map not mentioned). Holliday 399. Mintz, The Trail 165. Plains & Rockies IV:115:9. Streeter Sale 3132: “This edition of the Frémont Narrative has, instead of the government map, the Sage 1846 map that was intended for the first edition of Sage’s Scenes in the Rocky Mountains, Philadelphia, 1846 but was published too late to be included there.” Wheat, Maps of the California Gold Region 30. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 527 & Vol. II, pp. 41-42.

            The preface states: “The Map accompanying this edition is not the one prepared by the order of the government, but it is one that can be relied upon for its accuracy. July, 1847” (p. 4). The genesis of Sage’s map was Frémont’s 1845 map, which was supplied to Sage and his lithographer Michelin by Carey and Hart, who had removed the copy from their own copy of Frémont’s report. Sage also consulted Mitchell’s 1846 map of Texas, Oregon, and California (Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 520). He also added material from his own observations and sources, such as sites related to the Snively expedition. Although theories abound, no one has ever satisfactorily explained how Sage’s map ended up in this edition of Frémont. Wheat indicates that apparently the publisher got his hands on a pile of remainders of Sage’s map, although correspondence printed in the 1956 scholarly edition (see Item 232 herein) indicates that Sage himself paid for the maps, and, in fact, Sage and his brother sold the map and books from door to door in New England, Ohio, and the West. E. J. Wessen theorizes along the same lines that the lithographer dumped his stock to the Syracuse publisher (Midland 36-106). Whatever the case, this bibliographical curiosity has never been resolved. The map was lithographed by Francis Michelin (Peters, America on Stone, pp. 281-284), who was at his 111 Nassau address in New York City from 1846-1851. Although the years of Michelin at that address were obviously active ones, Wessen’s theory that the lithographer was so overwhelmed with work that he could not produce Sage’s map in a timely fashion seems unlikely in the case of a firm that was obviously well established and well equipped. For more on Sage’s map, see Item No. 125 in this catalogue, a separately issued copy of Sage’s map.

            For references to the Fremont’s report in general, see: Cowan II, p. 223n (citing Syracuse edition by the same publishers in 1848). Edwards, Desert Voices 62-63. Edwards, Enduring Desert, pp. 87-88n. (doubting the supposed reference to Twenty-Nine Palms). Grolier American Hundred 49n (citing the official editions): “Undoubtedly the vividness and lucidity of the two reports are due in part to the literary skill of Jessie Benton Frémont.” Tweney, The Washington 89 #22. Zamorano 80 #39n.

            Gary Kurutz gives a lengthy account of the importance of the Frémont exedition in our Volkmann, Zamorano 80 catalogue (Sloan Auction 12:39 & 39An). See previous item. ($5,000-10,000)

Sold. Hammer: $5,000.00; Price Realized: $5,875.00

Auction 21 Abstracts

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