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Marcy’s Map: "No southern emigrant could afford to be without it" (wheat)

First lithographic documentation of Palo Duro Canyon


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381.     MARCY, Randolph B[arnes]. Exploration of the Red River of Louisiana, in the Year 1852: By Randolph B. Marcy, Captain Fifth Infantry U.S. Army; Assisted by George B. McClellan, Brevet Captain U.S. Engineers. With Reports on the Natural History of the Country, and Numerous Illustrations. Washington: A.O.P. Nicholson, Public Printer, 1854 (33d Congress, 1st Session, unnumbered House Executive document). Text: [i-iii] iv-xv [1, blank], [1] 2-286, [2, blank], 65 lithograph plates of views, botany, zoology, paleontology, geology, geography, etc. (some on tinted grounds; including long folding geological profile; see below). Map folder: 2 large folding lithograph maps in separate atlas (see below). 2 vols., 8vo (23 x 14.7 cm), original dark brown blind-embossed cloth, text with gilt lettering on spine (faded). Text: Overall moderate wear, spine chipped with losses, some board exposed at corners and edges, interior fine with light overall age-toning to text, but plates very fine. Atlas: Minor shelf wear, spine lightly chipped (condition reports of maps below).

Profile in text:

Geological Section, Showing the Order and Succession of the Strata from Washington County Arkansas to Fort Belknap Texas. By George G. Shumard M.D. Overall sheet size: 14 x 70.5 cm. Hand-colored lithograph. Fine.

Plates in text relating to Texas: 5 unattributed views (Tyler suggests Dr. George G. Shumard, the expedition’s surgeon and botanist) and 29 scientific plates, at lower left of each image: Lith. H. Lawrence 86 John St N Y:

View of Gypsum Bluffs on the Canadian River. Toned lithograph, image: 10 x 17.5 cm; image and text: 11.3 x 17.5 cm. Plate 5.

Border of El-Llano Estacado. Toned lithograph, image: 10 x 17.5 cm; image and text: 11 x 17.5 cm. Plate 7.

View near the Head of the Ke-che-ah-que-ho-no. Toned lithograph, image: 17.5 x 10 cm; image and text: 18.5 x 10 cm. Plate 8.

View Near Head of Red-River. Toned lithograph, image: 10 x 17.7 cm; image and text: 11.1 x 17.7 cm. Plate 9.

Head of Ke-che-ah-que-ho-no, or the Main Branch of Red River. Toned lithograph, image: 17.5 x 10 cm; image and text: 19.1 x 10 cm. Plate 10.

The scientific illustrations relating to Texas (some after J.H. Richard of the Smithsonian Institution): Paleontology: Pl. I, Fig. 3; Pl. III, Fig. 3; Pl. IV, Fig. 1; Pl. IV, Fig. 2; Pl. IV, Fig. 3; Pl. IV, Fig. 4; Pl. IV, Fig. 5; Pl. V, Figs. 1, a-b, and 5; Pl. V, Fig. 3; Pl. VI, Fig. 1; Pl. VI, Fig. 2; Pl. VI, Fig. 5; Zoology: Pl. I; Pl. II; Pl. XV, Figs. 1-4; Pl. XV, Figs. 5-8; Pl. XVI; Pl. XVIII; Botany: Pl. I; Pl. IV; Pl. X; Pl. XV; Pl. XVII; Pl. XX.

Maps in folder:

Map of the Country between the Frontiers of Arkansas and New Mexico Embracing the Section Explored in 1849. 50. 51. & 52, by Capt. R.B. Marcy 5th U.S. Infy. under Orders from the War Department…H. Lawrence…. Neat line to neat line: 69 x 149 cm; overall sheet size: 73 x 156 cm. Scroll at top left giving credit to the prior surveys of Emory, Sitgreaves, A.B. Gray, and De Cordova. Moderate stains where attached to folder, light browning at folds, splits at some folds affecting small portions of map, otherwise good.

Map of the Country upon Upper Red River Explored in 1852…H. Lawrence, Lith. [profile at bottom] Profile of the Route from the Head of the Ke-che-ah-que-ho-no to Fort-Arbuckle. Neat line to neat line: 41.5 x 85.5 cm; overall sheet size 43.5 x 91 cm. Moderate stains where attached to folder, light browning at folds, four marginal voids touching neat lines only, otherwise very good.

     Third edition. The first edition was the Senate issue, SED54 (1853, with 320 pp.), followed by an unnumbered Senate issue (1854, with 310 pp). The plates in the first two editions were lithographed by the Ackerman firm at 379 Broadway in New York; the plates in the present edition are the work of lithographer Henry Lawrence. Basic Texas Books 135B: “Written by one of the greatest nineteenth-century American explorers, this is one of the most interesting accounts of an original exploration of unknown parts of Texas… [Marcy] was the first Anglo-American to discover and explore Palo Duro Canyon and Tule Canyon…. Marcy described in detail the little-known Wichita tribe and compiled the first Wichita dictionary.” Bradford 3198. British Museum, Natural History, p. 1239. Clark, Travels in the Old South III:354. Field 1006. Graff 2675 (first edition). Holliday 1794. Howes M276. Meisel III, p. 144. Pilling 2472. Plains & Rockies IV:226:3. Rader 2346n. Sabin 44512: “Authentic information regarding the peculiar customs of the Indians of the southern Plains. Their mode of warfare, their invariable violation of the chastity of female prisoners, and the construction of their dwellings and villages.” Tate, The Indians of Texas: An Annotated Research Bibliography 2463: "Detailed and articulate account of western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle during 1852. Marcy’s descriptions of the Comanches and Wichitas are among the most frequently quoted of the mid-nineteenth century." Wheat, Transmississippi West #791 & #792, Vol. III, pp. 15-16: “[Marcy’s] large map was an attempt not only to bring together information obtained from his own explorations, but to show the relation of that country to the areas lying to the north and south—and, in addition, to the west, as far as the Colorado River of the West…. Marcy’s map is…one of the best of the period…. No southern emigrant could afford to be without it.”

     Dr. Ron Tyler’s in-progress study of nineteenth-century Texas lithographs contains a long discussion of the Marcy expedition and the plates, in which he states:

Captain Marcy, a veteran of the Mexican War who had made an 1849 reconnaissance from Fort Smith to Santa Fe, argued that the Red River, formerly an international frontier and now the boundary between Texas and Indian Territory, was too important for its source to remain unknown to the government. The War Department agreed and designated him to "collect and report everything that may be useful or interesting in relation to [the region’s] resources, soil climate, natural history, and geography." The Adjutant General also ordered him to remind any Indians that he encountered of the military power of the United States and the certainty of punishment if they continued to resist Anglo immigration and to determine whether the area could sustain a large Indian population and, if so, could they be induced to settle down and take up farming. He undertook the survey, noting that it was "remarkable… that a portion of one of the largest and most important rivers in the United States… remained up to that period wholly unexplored and unknown… a ‘terra incognita.’"

While Marcy was ultimately unsuccessful in finding the true headwaters of the Red, he did accomplish some of his other goals and, in the process, provided the first lithographic documentation of the unexplored and dramatic Palo Duro Canyon, in fact the first of the great southwestern canyons to be documented and published for a popular audience.

Dr. Tyler also provides details of the three editions of the book and explains that one reason for its popularity was the intense interest generated in the expedition due to the erroneous news that Marcy and his party had been massacred by Comanche. He comments on the lithograph views in general: "The prints of the unknown artist that accompany Randolph B. Marcy’s report of his exploration to the source of the Red River exemplify the nineteenth-century romantic feeling of civilized man jousting with wild and exotic nature, with its tiny but well-dressed figures standing in front of Ke-che-ah-que-ho-no (Plate 10), the source of the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the river." See also: Tyler, Prints of the West, pp. 80 & 88 (illustration).

     This report is filled with observations on the features and denizens of the region, large and small. The scientific plates include scorpions, tarantulas, centipedes, snakes, lizards, grasshoppers, and botanical specimens illustrate some of the wonderful and practical regional plants valuable for modern Xeriscape gardens, such as Eryngium diffusum (spreading eryngo), Penstemon ambiguum (pink plains penstemon), Engelmannia pinnatifida (Engelmann’s daisy), etc.

     Marcy considered the two maps in the atlas to be the first maps ever drawn of the sources of the Red River, but the Pedro Vial map of 1787 (Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe) is thought by some to be drawn from its makers first-hand exploration. For more on army officer and Marcy (1812-1887), see Handbook of Texas Online, Thrapp (Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography, II, pp. 940-941), and W. Eugene Hollon, Beyond the Cross Timbers: The Travels of Randolph B. Marcy (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1955).


Sold. Hammer: $400.00; Price Realized: $480.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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