Scarce Promotional Item Issued by the “The Propagandist of the West”

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531. STRAHORN, Robert E[dmund]. The Resources and Attractions of Idaho Territory. Facts Regarding Climate, Soil, Minerals, Agricultural and Grazing Lands, Forests, Scenery, Game and Fish, and Reliable Information on Other Topics Applicable to the Wants of the Homeseeker, Capitalist and Tourist. Published and Circulated by Direction of the Idaho Legislature Special Act of the 11th Session. Boise City: Idaho Legislature, 1881 [copyright 1881, by Robert E. Strahorn, Omaha Republican Print]. 1-88, [8, ads] pp., engraved text illustrations (some full page, including Karst and Manz), tables, ads, folded lithograph map: Map of Idaho Territory Compiled from Government Notes, Actual Surveys, and Personal Examination. By Robt. E. Strahorn. 1882[lower center above neat line] Matthews, Northrup & Co., Engrs. & Prs., Buffalo, N.Y., neat line to neat line: 35.7 x 20.7 cm. 8vo (22 x 14.2 cm), contemporary plain wrappers, sewn; upper wrapper with affixed label: Compliments of D.C. Blackman, Gen’l Ag’t, Union Pacific R’y, 40 1/2 Exchange Street, Buffalo, N.Y. Spine lightly chipped, wrappers slightly chipped and stained, interior and folded map very good. Given the wide distribution and high print run of this promotional (20,000), it would seem this work would be common, but that is not the case.

     First edition. Adams, Herd 2183: “Scarce.” AII, Idaho Imprints 172. Bradford 5264. Howes S1056. Smith 9954. See: Thrapp: Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography, p. 1376.

     Here Strahorn (1852-1944), who has been called “The Propagandist of the West” (Oliver Knight, Pacific Northwest Quarterly, January, 1968), has produced another promotional supposedly issued by the Territory of Idaho, but in reality put forth by his railroad employer, who hoped that the increased traffic caused by this publication would be reflected favorably in its bottom line. In this pamphlet Strahorn dangles the bait of wealth to be had from mining, although he does give some attention to other enterprises such as stock raising and agriculture. Of the former, he says, “Almost without exception, those who have engaged in stock raising in Idaho have either become rich or are in fair way to do so quickly” (p. 74). Knight characterizes Strahorn’s promotional work as “not a Baedeker, but a beckoner” (Knight, op. cit., p. 43).

     “[Strahorn’s] Resources and Attractions of Idaho Territory–published in 1881 by Idaho’s legislature but secretly underwritten by the railroadbubbled with braggadocio: ‘the healthiest climate in America, if not in the world...the richest ores known in the history of mining...the peer of any mining region in the universe...luxuriant crops, emerald or golden, trees blossom- and perfume-laden, or bending to earth with their lavish fruitage’” (J. Anthony Lukas, Big Trouble: A Murder in a Small Western Town Sets Off a Struggle for the Soul of America,New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997, Chapter 1).


Sold. Hammer: $450.00; Price Realized: $551.25.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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