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“A book with few peers in the historiography of Texas Indian fighting”

The Issue with the Added Engravings

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83.     BROWN, John Henry. Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas. Austin: L.E. Daniell, Publisher, [1896]. [1-2] 3-762 pp., 176 plates (mostly portraits): 125 photographic (some from engravings); 51 steel engravings on heavy paper, 37 text illustrations. Large 4to (30 x 24 cm), original full brown blind-embossed roan with gilt lettering on spine and upper cover, marbled endpapers, inner gilt dentelles, a.e.g. Professionally re-backed (original spine preserved and chipping at head of spine neatly infilled); interior excellent except that some plates have offsetting from tissue guards. A fine copy of the most desirable issue. This a book notoriously difficult to find in decent condition and in original binding.

     First edition, with added plates and sharper images. (The steel engravings were not included in the trade issue published at the same time.) Collations usually call for 124 plates. Howes B857. Basic Texas Books 23: “This is Brown’s most important book and one of the best works on Texas Indian fighters and…pioneers…. The large volume contains hundreds of biographical sketches of early Texans of the nineteenth century, with an immense amount of material that appears nowhere else. Most valuable of all are the accounts of the numerous fights and skirmishes between early Texans and Indians. Only in the works of J.W. Wilbarger and A.J. Sowell does one find a comparable amount of historical data on this facet of Texas history. Brown was himself a participant in some of the bloodiest battles [e.g., Plum Creek].” Rader 514. Tate, Indians of Texas: An Annotated Research Bibliography 151: “Represents one of the earliest attempts to fully chronicle the history of Texas, an account filled with standard stories of Indian atrocities and pioneer heroism”; 2356: “An important source of information on nineteenth-century Indian atrocities in Texas. The book reflects an obvious frontiersman’s bias, and many of the accounts have been embellished, but researchers should utilize this compendium of information and look for supporting evidence elsewhere.”

     There is much of interest in this volume for ranching history (including a superb engraving of Richard King of King Ranch fame), women’s history, German Texans, and Tejanos (including Santos Benavides, the highest ranking Mexican American to serve the Confederacy).

     An ad and order form illustrated in Basic Texas Books breathlessly states the following of the book:

THE INDIAN WARS AND PIONEERS OF TEXAS! This book is well bound, good paper, has 762 pages, size 9-1/2 x 12 inches, 2 inches thick and weighing seven pounds. It is rich with local lore from the very beginning of things up to the present. Contains numberless pictures of men and women who lived and helped make the State what it is. It contains data and references that must be held sacred by every person who lives in the State and will be held and handed down from generation to generation as a priceless heirloom. The minute details concerning people and their doings make it unique among books of the kind. It is the kind of book that will soon pass “out of print” and in a few years, or generations, will be sold for large sums to descendants of those who lived in Texas. We have only a very few copies left which will be sold at $5.00 each, prepaid.

     Kelsey, Engraved Prints of Texas, 1554-1900, pp. 367-374 (entries for prints 8.299-8.356), pp. 9-10, 37, 334 (text):

John Henry Brown’s Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas, 1896, pictures more pioneers who financed the book, than Indian fighters who could not afford to buy a picture…. The Dudensing engravers and the H. & C. Koevoets provided dozens of engraved portraits for the “mug books” [such as] Brown’s Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas…. A view of the Alamo [between pp. 668 and 669] depicts George Webb Slaughter delivering a message from Sam Houston to William Barrett Travis, Jim Bowie, and David Crockett. Slaughter, a mounted courier, is seen talking to Travis as he stands outside the Alamo during a lull in the Battle of the Alamo. The Alamo is shown with the curvilinear fascade that was not added until twelve years after the battle…. Among the last great books about the Indian Wars is a “mug book” by John Henry Brown…. This book was financed in great part by Mr. George Sealy of Galveston.

     John Henry Brown (1820-1895) pioneer historian, newspaper editor, soldier, and legislator, came to Texas in the days of the Republic and was an eye-witness to many of the events that he describes. He alternated his time between newspaper work and Indian fighting for a great part of his life. After settling in Dallas, he found time to engage in local politics and write several historical works, of which this is his best known. Handbook of Texas Online: John Henry Brown.


Sold. Hammer: $1,900.00; Price Realized: $2,280.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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