Commerce of the Prairies

Commerce of the Prairies


Description: FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE (with only New York in imprint), complete with large folding map. One of the most valuable and comprehensive sources for understanding pioneer life in the Great Plains and Southwest. The large folding map is the first to display the Staked Plains of Texas. Hailed as a cartographic landmark, it includes the locations of forts, military roads, and trading posts. It also identifies the Oregon Trail and Native American settlements, and traces the routes of the earlier explorers Boone, Long, Pike, and Cooke. Convinced that a journey west was necessary to restore his health, Josiah Gregg, in 1831 set out from Missouri on the first of what was to become eight journeys across the prairies. An acute observer, Gregg took careful notes of the geography and geology of the Southwest, and the attitudes and culture of the people (including particularly valuable insights into the Indians of Texas and New Mexico). Over a decade later, "Gregg began compiling his travel notes into a readable manuscript and in the summer of 1843 went to New York to secure a publisher. His Commerce of the Prairies, which came out in two volumes in 1844, was an immediate success. It went through two new editions in 1845, later a fourth and fifth edition, and in 1857 appeared in a sixth edition under a different title. The book, which also had a large sale in England and was translated into French and German, remains the cornerstone for all studies of the Santa Fe Trail" (H. Allen Anderson, Handbook of Texas Online). New York: Henry G. Langley, 1844. Octavo, original gilt-stamped brown cloth. Two volumes. A clean, bright, un-restored copy in the original cloth: text clean with only light foxing. Scarce and fragile map fine save for one closed tear at the far right hand side, starting at the main horizontal crease and continuing for 2" diagonally upward and to the left; some loss to head and tail of spine of volume I, bindings unusually clean and bright.
Artist or Maker: Gregg, Josiah
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