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Signed by Theodore Roosevelt while President

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496.     ROOSEVELT, Theodore. Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter…Illustrated. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1905. [2, limitation leaf], [i-vi] vii-xi [1, blank], 1-369 [1] pp., 49 photographic plates, including frontispiece photogravure portrait of Roosevelt bearing his facsimile autograph, each plate protected by original captioned tissue guard. 8vo (25.3 x 17.4 cm), original three-quarter brown pigskin over tan boards, spine lettered in blind. Upper cover reattached and head of spine neatly mended, a few spots to binding which is shelf-worn, hinges strengthened, end papers and first and last few leaves browned at juncture with pigskin turn-ins, outer edges of leaves with thin strip of light marginal browning, a few fox marks here and there, but overall a good, complete copy of a very scarce book in the preferred issue. Much better condition than customarily found (due to the impractical choice of binding materials).

     First edition, limited edition (#171 of 260 large paper copies printed on Ruisdal paper by De Vinne Press, signed by President Roosevelt). Phillips, American Sporting Books, p. 320. Wheelock, p. 10. For presidential collectors, this book is essential.

     Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, was a writer, historian, explorer, hunter, soldier, conservationist, a principal architect of the U.S. national park system, ranchman, and Nobel Peace Prize winner. Robert Bridges, in his book Theodore Roosevelt as Author and Contributor (Scribner’s, 1919), relates the genesis of this book:

When he was President he sent for me, and, taking me into his library, opened a drawer in his desk, lifted out a complete manuscript, put it on the desk, and said in effect:

“It isn’t customary for Presidents to publish a book during office, but I am going to publish this one.”

We then went over together the complete manuscript of “Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter.” Some of these papers had been written before. Other chapters were the product of his hunting trips in Colorado and Louisiana while President. The book was ready for the printer, title-page and all.

     Chapter IX is devoted to wilderness reserves and Yellowstone Park, on which Roosevelt comments:

The most striking and melancholy feature in connection with American big game is the rapidity with which it has vanished…. While it is necessary to give this word of warning to those who, in praising time past, always forget the opportunities of the present, it is a thousand fold more necessary to remember that these opportunities are, nevertheless, vanishing; and if we are a sensible people, we will make it our business to see that the process of extinction is arrested. At the present moment the great herds of caribou are being butchered, as in the past the great herds of bison and wapiti have been butchered….

Every lover of nature, every man who appreciates the majesty and beauty of the wilderness and of wild life, should strike hands with the far-sighted men who wish to preserve our material resources, in the effort to keep our forests and our game beasts, game birds, and game fish—indeed, all the living creatures of prairie, and woodland, and seashore—from wanton destruction.

Above all, we should realize that the effort toward this end is essentially a democratic movement. It is entirely in our power as a nation to preserve large tracts of wilderness, which are valueless for agricultural purposes and unfit for settlement, as playgrounds for rich and poor alike, and to preserve the game so that it shall continue to exist for the benefit of all lovers of nature, and to give reasonable opportunities for the exercise of the skill of the hunter, whether he is or is not a man of means. But this end can only be achieved by wise laws and by a resolute enforcement of the laws. Lack of such legislation and administration will result in harm to all of us, but most of all in harm to the nature lover who does not possess vast wealth.

     In Chapter IV, entitled “Hunting in the Cattle Country; The Pronghorn Buck,” Roosevelt describes how the species may be domesticated as amusing pets and relates how a Mrs. Blank at a station on the Deadwood stage line kept a fawn and made Roosevelt the best buckskin shirt he ever had. Roosevelt’s own ranch is featured in some of the chapters, along with other ranches he visited. Chapter X explores “Books on Big Game,” from Nimrod to mediaeval works like Livre de Chasse to later writers such as Parkman, Irving, and Dodge. He praises Wallihan’s Camera Shots at Big Game, noting that the author’s camera work trumps hunting. In this chapter he also mentions pioneer hunters in the U.S. when hunting was a business, among whom were Sam Houston, David Crockett, Daniel Boone, and Kit Carson.

     Roosevelt dedicated this book to John Burroughs, and opposite p. 309 is a portrait of “Oom John” standing by a stream holding a trout. John Muir is also discussed in relation to the preservation of nature. Undoubtedly, some modern readers find Roosevelt’s interests contradictory and judge him “politically incorrect,” but in the true lens of history, the changing attitudes we see evolving in the present book written in his second term and the manner in which Roosevelt carried those initiatives forward cannot be denied. Roosevelt in his second term used his executive powers to create eighteen national monuments (including Devil’s Tower in Montana, the Grand Canyon, and the Gila Cliff Dwellings) and created the majority of National Parks, bird and game preserves, and National Forests.


Sold. Hammer: $2,000.00; Price Realized: $2,400.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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