Oregon & Americana books presented at the Rose City Virtual Book Fair

A selection of some great material on the Pacific Northwest and early Western Americana. Many of these are on the Oregon 100, including one of the scarcest books from that list, The Oregon Archives. Also of note is an original poster for relocating Japanese Americans to internment camps. At the end, you will find a collection of Elliott Coues in excellent condition.

You might also want to view our Rare Books catalog which includes a copy of Mackenzie’s Voyages and an 1878 Pacific States Directory.

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Oregon & the Pacific Northwest

 Ten years in Oregon: Travels and adventures of Dr. E. White and Lady, West of the Rocky Mountains: with incidents of two sea voyages via Sandwich Islands around Cape Horn: containing, also, a brief history of the missions and settlements of the country – origin of the provisional government – number and customs of the Indians – incidents witnessed while traversing and residing in the territory – description of the soil, production and climate of the country.

Allen, Miss A. J.
Ithaca: Press of Andrus, Gauntlett, 1850.

Elijah White was in Oregon as a physician and Indian sub-agent during a crucial decade: from 1836 to 1845. Accordingly, this is one of the most wide-ranging books, and includes both a sea voyage to Oregon and an overland journey; Indian attacks, missionary work, and work as the sub-agent; descriptions of the natural surroundings and the new emigrants; frontier anecdotes and Washington politics. This second edition includes “Col. Fremont’s Adventures in Crossing California Mountain” as an appendix. First published in 1848.

Very good condition. Original publisher’s cloth binding with blind-stamped boards, gilt lettering and decoration to spine. Modest spine slant from reading, foxing to pages, moderate wear to boards, one gathering slightly proud. $200

Oregon: comprising a brief history and full description of the territories of Oregon and Washington, embracing the cities, towns, rivers, bays, harbors, coasts, mountains, valleys, prairies and plains; together with remarks upon the social position, productions, resources and prospects of the country, a dissertation upon the climate and a full description of the Indian tribes of the Pacific slope, their manners, etc., interspersed with incidents of travel and adventure.

Armstrong, A. N.
Chicago: Chas. Scott & Co., 1857.

Seemingly a late entry for a “full description of the territories of Oregon and Washington,” this book actually has a huge value in its snapshots of early Oregon communities. By 1857, well over a decade had elapsed since the first big emigrations, and the social geography of Oregon began to look more like an American state than a wild territory. Additionally, the book was written in the midst of Oregon’s Indian Wars, and the second half of the book, which gives an encyclopedic inventory of the major Native American tribes, is a fascinating mix of personal (generally negative) opinion, ethnographic survey, and anecdotal hearsay.

Near very good condition. Original blue cloth boards with blind-stamped decorative frames; gilt lettering on front board and spine. Small loss of cloth to head & tail of backstrip, else very good with a solid binding and bright pages. Inscribed “With compliments of The Author” on front endpaper. Ownership inscription of D.L. Colesworthy, which is probably Daniel Clement Colesworthy (1810-1893), an East Coast printer and bookseller. $1,250

A ride over the Rocky mountains to Oregon and California. With a glance at some of the tropical islands, including the West Indies and the Sandwich isles.

Coke, Henry J.
London: Richard Bentley, 1852.

“First among the most entertaining books ever written about the Oregon Country is this account by an uninhibited Englishman. His trip was a lark, despite hardships and dangers. He refused to be impressed by some of the sanctimonious aspects of life in Oregon (which produces some of the brightest parts of the book). It is a happy change of pace from the sometimes frightening seriousness which dominates Oregon books.” (Webster Jones)

Very good condition. Contemporary three-quarter leather with marbled boards, all page edges marbled, and marbled endpapers. Wear to boards along edges, bottom of front joint has narrow 1″ crack, pages toned as usual but otherwise in excellent condition. Includes lithographed portrait frontispiece. $250

 Oregon Missions and Travels Over the Rocky Mountains, in 1845-46.

De Smet, Father P[ierre] J[ean], S.J.
New York: Edward Dunigan, 1847.

De Smet’s religious conviction was almost matched by his inclination to describe the thrilling or grotesque. Perhaps this was to make the ultimate conversion of the Indians seem even more spectacular, but it might also show how deeply disturbed he was by the Native American ways. However, he is hopeful at all times, and after a lengthy verbatim retelling of the Potawotomies’ creation myth, he is able to find its parallels in Scripture. This book is a collection of letters from De Smet while journeying through the Oregon Territory, and he is not without his humorous anecdotes.

Very good condition. Original cloth boards with blind-stamped decorative frames on boards; gilt lettering and decoration on spine is bright and complete. Backstrip expertly rebacked, and probably the binding was restored at the same time: the book has a nice, tight binding. Owner’s name to front endpaper; again with city (Minneapolis, 1874) to rear endpaper; some pencil margin lines. Pages toned at edges, plates bright; map has light toning and foxing but generally very good. All told, a nice specimen of an important book. $600

Instructions to All Persons of Japanese Ancestry…

DeWitt, Lt. Gen. J.L.
Western Defense Command, 1942.

Printed poster for residents in Clackamas and Multnomah counties. “All persons of Japanese ancestry” had to appear at the Administration Building at the Gresham Fair Grounds on May 7-8, 1942. Japanese Americans were mandated to bring their own linens, toiletries, silverware, and clothing, but could not bring pets, personal items, or household goods. Most residents were sent to the Minidoka Camp in Idaho.

Although President Ronald Reagan officially apologized in 1988, the trauma to the families affected was already done.

Fine condition; framed. This is the one item in our fair that does not qualify for free domestic shipping, although I may be able to deliver to parts of the PNW. Sold

Travels in the Great Western Prairies, the Anahuac and Rocky Mountains, and in the Oregon Territory.

Farnham, Thomas J.
Poughkeepsie: Killey & Lossing, printers. New York and London: Wiley & Putnam, 1843.

Farnham starts with a discussion of the Oregon Question, and promotes American interest in claiming Oregon for its own. The narrative itself is fact-filled, yet written with an easy style and sense of humor that entertains as much as it enlightens: unlike some of the more primitive writing of other narratives, this one is polished and meant for wide appeal. The strength of this book lies not so much in its description of Oregon itself, but of the overland journey to the territory.

Very good condition. Bound in three-quarter blue calf over marbled boards, burgundy spine label and gilt decorations in spine panels. Binding stamp-signed by Mudie. A handsome copy of a later edition (the first edition was 1841.) $300

 The Oregon Archives: including the journals, governors’ messages and public papers of Oregon, from the earliest attempt on the part of the people to form a government, down to, and inclusive of the session of the territorial legislature held in the year 1849, collected and published pursuant to an act of the Legislative Assembly, passed January 26, 1853.

Grover, La Fayette.
Salem: A. Bush, 1853.

“A great source book of early Oregon history, particularly for that of the period beginning with the provisional governments. Every important act of the early governments is included here. Because it was issued in a small edition in fragile paper wrappers and because it was used so much as a groundwork for every work on early Oregon, copies are seldom in good condition. It is doubtful that there is any better than a ‘fair’ copy in existence. Collectors have been forced in this case to take what they could get.” (Webster Jones.)

A detailed compilation of meeting minutes, Treasurer’s reports, journals, and addresses of the provisional government from February 17, 1841 through February 1849; this is the most important primary source of information on the pre-statehood political history of Oregon. Despite having a tenuous legitimacy of authority, the provisional government moved forward with an astonishing number of projects, from road-building to all-out war against the Cayuse Indians. Statehood, however, was desperately hoped for, and when reality fell short of anticipation, the whole territory was dismayed.

Very good condition. Bound in quarter-leather with cloth boards, probably mid-twentieth century; original wraps not present, but otherwise complete. The usual foxing is minimal except for the margin of a section of about 20 pages; three short tape repairs to title page; inked number to title page with two tiny holes (see photo.) Scarce in any condition. $3,000

Astoria; or, Enterprise beyond the Rocky Mountains.

Irving, Washington.
London: Richard Bentley, 1836.

This book not only makes a strong appeal for American control of Oregon, but also romanticizes the members of Astor’s fur trading company. Oregon is fortunately to have had this chapter of its history chronicled by such a fine writer.

Good condition. Original boards show some soiling, wear along edges, fading to spines. This is the first British edition, which did not include the map found in the American edition. Housed in a modern clamshell box. $250

The Rocky Mountains: or, Scenes, Incidents, and Adventures in the Far West; Digested from the Journal of Capt. B. L. E. Bonneville, of the Army of the United States, and Illustrated from Various Other Sources.

Irving, Washington.
Philadelphia: Carey, Lea, & Blanchard, 1837.


Good condition. Original blue cloth boards with paper labels on spine. Both labels have shipping but all text present. Front hinge of volume one partially exposed at frontispiece and front endpapers; volume two has a dampstain to the top margin of most pages, extends into page header at its deepest, but otherwise text not affected. Typical toning to pages, ghost from map to title pages. Maps are very good with short tears near bottom of hinges, no loss. Very clean copies with no markings found, solid bindings, and attractive covers. Housed in an attractive modern custom clamshell box with blue cloth and tan leather label. $600.

Early Days in Old Oregon.

Judson, Katharine Berry.
Portland: Metropolitan Press, 1935.

A thorough history of the discovery and settlement of Oregon by the British and Americans, written for a middle-school or high-school reader. Illustrated in black & white with maps, photos, and paintings. An enjoyable book, easy to read, with the occasional fresh perspective: her description of the types of people who came to the territory in the 1840s is not what we Oregonians are accustomed to reading. “More people came in–more deserters from whalers, more ‘mountain men.’ There came also law-breakers, escaping from justice in ‘the States;’ men who were in debt and wanted to get a new start and pay up; men who lived in slave states and were afraid of a negro rebellion; adventurers from the Sandwich Islands; and also the best kind of people, who crossed the plains because they were looking for new homes.”

Near fine condition. Bound in full polished calf with marbled endpapers. A lovely signed binding by Rudolph Ernst. “Ernst had been working for the company since the early 1930s and was respected throughout the Pacific Northwest printing community for his skills in both hand and machine binding.” (Jeremy Skinner, Bindfords and Mort.) $150

Narrative of a Journey across the Rocky Mountains, to the Columbia River, and a Visit to the Sandwich Islands, Chili, &c. with a Scientific Appendix.

Townsend, John K.
Philadelphia: Henry Perkins, 1839.

Townsend was a naturalist who, with fellow naturalist Thomas Nuttall, traveled to Oregon in Nathaniel Wyeth’s 1834 expedition. Threaded through his narrative of Indians, buffalo, Hawaii, and trappers is a relatively unbiased account of Wyeth’s failed venture as well as meetings with many of the Americans and British who were in Oregon at the time. Not to be overlooked, however, are his comments on the wildlife of Oregon. Additionally, the appendix to the book is a 41-page descriptive catalog of the fauna encountered.

Very Good condition. Bound in very modern three-quarter morocco leather and marbled paper-covered boards, new endpapers, lacks first blank leaf else complete. Foxing to pages as common, but still very legible; binding is fine. $300

Works by Elliott Coues

Although best known as an ornithologist, Coues also published several major works of frontier history. These have been highly prized since publication, not only for the primary source material, but also for his extensive and careful notes.

The Expeditions of Zebulon Montgomery Pike, to Headwaters of the Mississippi River, through Louisiana Territory, and in New Spain, during the Years 1805-6-7.

New York: Francis P. Harper, 1895.

Pike explored the Louisiana Purchase about the same time that Lewis and Clark were crossing it to the Oregon Territory. His account has been a classic of American exploration since it was published.

Near fine condition. Full green cloth. Very small tear to head of spine on volume 1, very light wear, ribbon for maps is detached. Complete with six folding maps in pocket of volume 3. $400

Forty Years a Fur Trader on the Upper Missouri. The Personal Narrative of Charles Larpenteur, 1833-1872.

New York: Francis P. Harper, 1898.

Larpenteur kept a diary of his fur trading activities for forty years. He wrote his memoirs based on his diaries, but was unsuccessful in publishing them. Fortunately, Coues got hold of the manuscript and was able to get them published, thus preserving a rich, first-hand account of the fur trade.

Fine condition. Two volumes in full blue ribbed cloth, eighteen plate illustrations including several maps. Very slight wear at tips, very light rubbing. Limited edition of 950 copies, this is number 9. $300

History Of The Expedition Under The Command Of Lewis And Clark, To The Sources Of The Missouri River, thence across the Rocky Mountains and down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean, performed during the Years 1804-5-6, by Order of the Government of the United States.

New York: Francis P. Harper, 1893.

“Among the great adventure stories of this nation, that of Lewis and Clark ranks first. Although not the first overland crossing (actually the third) it had the distinction of being the first important land exploration of a new nation, scarcely out of the chaos that came after the Revolutionary War.” (Webster Jones.) This Coues edition is not the complete edition (which would not be published until the Twaites edition of 1905), but remains one of the best. In addition to the original maps, this edition also includes a “Tracing Copy of the Original Map forwarded by Meriwether Liews to President Jefferson” and a “Modern Map of Lewis and Clark’s Route.”

Very good condition. Four volumes in full green cloth. Speckling to spines of all volumes, volumes 1 and 2 each have a bumped corner, volume 4 has speckling to boards. Complete with three folding maps in pocket of volume 4. Limited edition of 1100 copies, this is a reviewer’s copy, which has the ownership inscription of George Vath in each volume. $1,000

The Journal of Jacob Fowler, Narrating an Adventure from Arkansas through the Indian Territories of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico, to the Sources of Rio Grande del Norte, 1821-22.

New York: Francis P. Harper, 1898.

As Coues points out in his introduction, Fowler writes from a time and place with scant documentation.

Fine condition. Full blue ribbed cloth, folding frontispiece. Limited edition of 950 copies, this is number 9. $100

New Light on the Early History of the Greater Northwest. The Manuscript Journals of Alexander Henry, Fur Trader of the Northwest Company, and of David Thompson, Official Geographer of the Same Company 1799-1814: Exploration and Adventure among Indians on the Red, Saskatchewan, Missouri and Columbia Rivers.

New York: Francis P. Harper, 1897.

“Alexander Henry’s journal is among the best for information on the Native Americans as well as natural history, but it also reveals him to have a trait uncommon among mountain men: he is keenly aware of interpersonal relationships, whether between trapper and Indian, the internal politics among the men of the Northwest Company, or the tension between British and American citizens.” (Oregon 100.)

Fine condition. Three volumes in full green cloth, volume three with three folding maps and folding title sheet, all in fine condition. Limited edition of 1100 copies, this is number 124. $400

On the Trail of a Spanish Pioneer. The Diary and Itinerary of Francisco Garces in his Travels through Sonora, Arizona, and California 1775-1776.

New York: Francis P. Harper, 1900.

Garces was a Catholic missionary whose diary of his travels include very early descriptions of southwest Native Americans. Unlike many explorers, Garces often traveled alone, although he accompanied Juan Bautista de Anza on his 1774 expedition, the first overland journey to reach California’s coast, and the 1775-6 Colonizing Expedition to San Francisco Bay.

Fine condition. Two volumes in full blue ribbed cloth, eighteen plate illustrations including two maps. Very slight wear at tips, very light rubbing. Limited edition of 950 copies, this is number 9. $200

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