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“The Vade Mecum of Manifest Destiny”—Kurutz

Frémont Report with the Rufus Sage Map

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571. 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. [1-3] 4-427 [1, blank], [1] 2-4 (ads) pp., 2 untitled wood-engraved plates: [1] unattributed mountaineering scene with Frémont planting U.S. flag atop 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 13.5 cm), publisher’s original dark brown blind-embossed ribbed cloth, gilt pictorial spine with gilt lettering. Spine lightly chipped at extremities, cloth moderately insect damaged (especially at lower joint, resulting in some voids, primarily to lower cover), corners bumped, light shelf wear; interior very good except for occasional foxing and light staining, map very fine save for small tear at juncture with text block (no losses). Overall very good.

     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 (see Item 199 herein), 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), additional trade 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 Sale 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.”

     For references to Fremont’s 1845 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. Grolier American Hundred 49n (citing the official editions). Tweney, The Washington 89 #22. Zamorano 80 #39n. Gary Kurutz gives a lengthy account of the importance of the Frémont expedition in our Volkmann, Zamorano 80 catalogue (Sloan Auction 12:39 & 39An).

     First printing of Rufus Sage's rare and noteworthy overland trail map. Ellis, Colorado Mapology, p. 41 (illustrated): “One of the earliest [maps] to depict the finally-determined Oregon of the earliest attempts to show on a map the ever-more-heavily traveled emigrant road to California.” Littell Sale 904: “One of the rarest maps of the western country.” Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 527 & Vol. II, pp. 40-43 (illustrated). Wheat, Maps of the California Gold Region 30. John Allen states: “While the maps by the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers are inarguably the most important maps of the decade of the forties for the West in general, many other distinctive maps were produced during that period, particularly for the area of the plains.... Among the...migrant and traveler maps...the cartographic efforts of Rufus B. Sage are both representative and among the finest examples of the genre. Sage’s map of outstanding in its portrayal of the territory east of the Rocky Mountains” (“Patterns of Promise” in Mapping the North American Plains, edited by Frederick C. Luebke, et al., p. 53 & Fig. 3.8).

     This map was lithographed to accompany Rufus B. Sage’s book Scenes in the Rocky Mountains, Oregon, California, New Mexico, Texas and Grand Prairies; or Notes by the Way, During an Excursion of Three a New Englander, published at Philadelphia by Carey and Hart in 1846. For references to Sage’s book see: Cowan I, p. 197. Cowan II, pp. 548-549. Fifty Texas Rarities 30. Graff 3633. Howes S16. Mintz, The Trail 402. Plains & Rockies IV:123.1. Rittenhouse 502. Sabin 74892. Smith 8929. Streeter Sale 3049. Vandale 148.

     Rufus Sage (1817-1893), frontiersman and journalist, joined Col. Charles Warfield’s unit of Texans later connected with the abortive Snively Expedition (see Handbook of Texas Online). The present map shows the various battles associated with that bizarre, extralegal Republic of Texas-private venture, involving attempts at piracy, plunder, Texian retaliation against Mexico for perceived wrongs, and taking control of Santa Fe and the Santa Fe Trail trade. The article on “Exploration” in the Handbook of Texas Online gives some insight into Sage’s motives for creating this map: “The great failure of the [Snively] expedition underscored the problems of large groups with inadequate maps trying to make their way among hostile Indians across the unknown plains of Texas.”

     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; see Item 340 herein). He 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 acquired a number of remainders of Sage’s map, although correspondence printed in the 1956 scholarly edition 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.


Sold. Hammer: $3,800.00; Price Realized: $4,560.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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