Publication: Henry G Langley, 1844, New York
First edition, first issue. 12mo. Two volumes. Volume I: Original brown, embossed, gold gilt, pictorial cloth, with spine stamped in gilt, xvi - 17 - 320 pp., frontispiece, preface, illustrated, plates, map. Inked name on the title page. Volume II: Original brown embossed, gold gilt, pictorial cloth, with spine stamped in gilt, viii -9 - 318 pp., frontispiece, illustrated, plates, map. Early small bookplate of David Morgan Hildreth on front pastedown sheet, and ownership signature of J. C. Reynolds on front fly leaf. First edition, first issue of a classic of Western Americana and an authoritative, firsthand description of the Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico before the American conquest, and the Native tribes of the southern Plains. Gregg joined a caravan of traders bound for Santa Fe in 1831 and developed a fascination for the life of a Santa Fe trader. During the ten years that he engaged in the Santa Fe trade, Gregg took copious notes on the life and landscape of the American prairies and the Mexican plateau. "Gregg wrote as a man of experience and not as a professional writer. He wrote not only the classic of the Santa Fe trade and trail but one of the classics of bedrock Americana" - Dobie. "Gregg made his first trip over the Santa Fe Trail in 1831; his last trip to Santa Fe was in 1839. The work stands as a cornerstone of all studies on the Santa Fe Trail in the early period, describing the origin and development of the trade, Gregg's own experiences, and useful statistics for 1822-1843" - Rittenhouse. A native of Tennessee, Josiah Gregg initially went to Santa Fe in 1831 to improve his health, and became an active trader on the Santa Fe Trail for the next decade. Largely self-taught, though with an early interest in mathematics, he was an excellent observer of his surroundings and recorder of his experiences, and he tells his story in a forthright narrative that, if it lacks literary flourishes, abounds in facts and details. Gregg describes the daily activities of a Santa Fe trader, life on the prairie and the trail, camping, dealing with Mexican customs officials, the history and natural history of the region, native tribes, and much more. His mathematical ability led him to master surveying, a talent that aided him in producing the best map of the Santa Fe Trail and the surrounding country, what Carl Wheat has called "a cartographic landmark." Printed in black and green, the "Map of the Indian Territory of Northern Texas and New Mexico showing the Great Western Prairies" shows various routes through the southwest to Santa Fe, towns and villages, forts and trading posts, Indian villages and hunting grounds, rivers, and the Llano Estacado (staked plain) of Texas. The single-page map is of the interior of northern Mexico. "An important Texas book as well as one of the great books on the West" - Streeter. "Chief authority on the Santa Fe trade-route and traffic." - Howes. Both volumes professionally rebacked with original spines and endpapers retained, some of the plates slightly darkened, some light scattered foxing, short tear in fine cerograph map in Volume I, where bound to book having no loss, else near fine, bright copies with the map in fine condition. Housed in a cloth slipcase.
Inventory Number: 48449