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The Saddle Blanket Edition

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251.     LEA, Tom. The King Ranch by Tom Lea. Drawings by the Author. Research Holland McCombs. Annotation Francis L. Fugate. Kingsville: Printed [by Carl Hertzog] for the King Ranch, 1957. Vol. I: [10], 1-467 [1, blank], [2] pp; Vol. II: [10], [469] 470-838, [2] pp., text illustrations by author (some in color), maps, facsimiles. 2 vols., square 8vo (24 x 18.5 cm), original natural linen with the King Ranch “Running W” brand in brown, maize mesquite pattern endpapers, sprinkled edges, in publisher’s original linen case with gilt lettered tan leather label. Label on slipcase slightly damaged as usual, due to the soft leather, otherwise very fine, in publisher’s original mailing box.

     First edition, limited edition, the Saddle Blanket edition, produced exclusively for the King Ranch; first issue (Vol. II, p. 507, first word is “Alice.”). Adams, Herd 1319. Basic Texas Books 121A: “This is the best account of the most famous ranch in the world.” Campbell, My Favorite 101 Books about the Cattle Industry 56. CBC 2785 (plus 3 additional entries). Dykes, Collecting Range Life Literature, p. 16; Fifty Great Western Illustrators (Lea 65); Western High Spots, p. 79 (“A Range Man’s Library”): “Belongs in any range man’s library”; p. 102 (“The Texas Ranch Today”). Hinshaw & Lovelace, Lea 114. King, Women on the Cattle Trail and in the Roundup, p. 17: “This ranch history includes substantial information about Henrietta King.” Lowman, Printing Arts in Texas, p. 54: “Tom Lea’s history of the King Ranch is one of the most important books ever to emerge from a Texas background. Its typographical achievement is equally distinguished.” Reese, Six Score 69: “Perhaps the most exhaustive ranch history ever written, and a tremendous account of the cattle industry of south Texas.”

     Lowman, Printer at the Pass 99n:

This book was originally planned as a 250-300 page private edition to be published on the occasion of the ranch centennial in 1953, but it grew steadily for the next four years…. The project grew from a modest private edition to a two-volume, 838-page trade book. The physical dimensions of the books itself, the 16-point Centaur type of the text, the ample page margins, and the expansive chapter head designs all suggest the vastness of the ranch. Typesetting was inspected page by page to insure that bad spacing and bad breaks were avoided. An original color technique was developed for color separation in the four, five, and seven-color illustrations…. The special edition was printed on all rag paper made especially for this book by the Curtis Paper Company. It is bound in heavy crush linen resembling the King Ranch saddle blanket with the running ‘W’ brand.

     In 1885 Henrietta King inherited the debt-ridden, 500,000-acre ranch from her visionary but impractical husband. She ran the ranch until her death in 1925, developing important and early scientific techniques for beef production. The Santa Gertrudis breed, for which the King Ranch is now renowned, started under her direction. At her death, the ranch had grown to well over a million acres and she had cleared all debts, leaving an estate of over $5 million.

     The book was never offered by sale by the King Ranch and was originally intended to be given away to family and special friends. Thus, for many years this book was difficult to obtain, but shortly after the Book Club of Texas was re-established ca. 1989, the remaining copies of the Saddle Blanket edition were discovered at the ranch by archivist Bruce Cheeseman. Arrangements were made between the Book Club of Texas and the King Ranch for these newly located copies to be offered to Club members. Thereafter the Saddle Blanket edition was found more readily on the market, but in recent years, the set has grown scarce in commerce once again. Included is a keepsake about the book, published by the Book Club of Texas: Bruce Cheeseman & Al Lowman, “The Book of All Christendom” (Kingsville Ranch: W. Thomas Taylor for Book Club of Texas, 1992).


Sold. Hammer: $1,400.00; Price Realized: $1,680.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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