Promotional Pamphlet—Wild Jim, Texas Ranger, Cowboy & Saddle King

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151. FRENCH, W.J. Wild Jim Capt. W.J. French, Texas Ranger. The Texas Cowboy and Saddle King [wrapper title]. [Chicago: M.A. Donohue & Company], n.d. [ca. 1890]. 1-14 [2] pp., photographic illustrations on upper and lower cover, and wood engraving on final page. 8vo (22.5 x 15 cm), original tan wrappers with photographic illustrations of Wild Jim, original staples. Very fine. Preserved in a half dark brown morocco slipcase and cloth chemise.

     First edition of a rare promotional pamphlet. Adams, Burs 141. Adams, Guns 771: “Rare.... This little pamphlet is a sampling of the larger book that followed (Guns 772) and was distributed to help the sale of the latter.” Dykes, Collecting Range Life Literature, p. 18. Adams, Herd 848 and Howes F374 cite the subsequent book version. French wrote one of the early biographies of a cowboy, published five years after Siringo’s first work; in this case, however, it seems likely that at least part of the tale is fiction written to pander to the mania for Wild West shows of the time. Standard biographies of Texas Rangers, such as Webb, do not list French, nor is he found on the official rolls of the Texas Rangers. Dykes does not list the book in “Ranger Reading” or Rare Western Outlaw Books, but he does list Wild Jim’s book in Burs under the Saddle (characterizing one section of the book as “wild and exaggerated” and commenting laconically on the Wild Bill’s murder: “It is surprising how many people were in Deadwood at this time”). Sections on Jim include “Description of the Bridle and Bit” “Wild Jim Capturing the White Stallion,” “Description of Saddle Won by Wild Jim,” etc. There is also a section on Wild Bill Hickok. I have often thought this to be “The West of the Imagination” but Wild Jim’s obituary is online <>:

Birth: Aug., 1851, New York, USA
Death: Feb. 13, 1917, Copiague, Suffolk County, New York, USADescription:
Obit from unknown newspaper, probably The Antioch News, Antioch, Illinois: W.J. French, Known as “Wild Jim”, Passes Away at Copiague, N.Y. -- Mr. French Has Been Staying With His Daughter, Mrs. Neva Imig For Some Time, Having Been In Poor Health, Which Later Proved to be Cancer of the Bladder. -- Funeral Held In New York, With Burial At Antioch. Monday evening a telegram was received by Wm. Hodge of this place stating that W.J. French, was very low at the home of his eldest daughter, Mrs. Neva Imig at Copiague, Suffolk County, N.Y. This message was followed closely by a second, which was received here Tuesday morning telling of his death, which occurred Monday night. Full details are unobtainable at this time but it is known that the deceased has been in poor health for a long time, his trouble being a cancer of the bladder. “Wild Jim” as Mr. French was known in the show world, was born at Saugerfield, Oneida Co., N.Y., but for the greater part of his life Antioch had been his home, although a greater part of his time has been spent in traveling with the “Wild West” show of which he was the owner, and in which he was the principal attraction. His daring feats in the saddle and his skillfull [sic] handling of fire arms, won for him fame and distinction, and his “dare devil” acts lived long in the memory of those who witnessed them. Mr. French is survived by his two daughters, also one sister, Mrs. Harry Emmons of Phoenix, Arizona and three brothers, John of Rockford, Ill., and Dan and Germ of Kansas. Funeral services are to be held at the Imig home today (Thursday) after which the remains will be brought back to this place for burial. It is expected that they will arrive here some time Saturday.
Burial: Hillside Cemetery, Antioch, Lake County, Illinois, USA, Plot: Section 4, Row 7

     The introduction to the final printed book has the following statement: “In response to the many solicitations of the public, Capt. W.J. French, known throughout the Western country as Wild Jim, the Texas Cowboy and Saddle King, narrates a few of his thrilling adventures while living the life of a cowboy trailer and Indian scout.”


Sold. Hammer: $300.00; Price Realized: $367.50.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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