FIRST EDITION OF THE LAST OF THE PLAINSMEN, INSCRIBED BY “BUFFALO” JONES AND ZANE GREY
GREY, Zane. The Last of the Plainsmen. New York: Outing, 1908. Octavo, original gilt-stamped pictorial green cloth. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $4500.
First edition, illustrated with 26 black-and-white photographic plates, inscribed by the book's subject: “With compliments of ‘The Last of the Plainsmen’, C.J. Jones” and by the author: “And the author Zane Grey.”
A young dentist more passionate about fishing trips than fixing teeth, Grey in 1907 met "one C.J. 'Buffalo' Jones, a former buffalo hunter who was attempting to breed 'cattalo'—a hybrid of buffalo and cattle—on his ranch near the Grand Canyon. Grey heard him speak at the Campfire Club in New York, and while most of the audience hooted at his implausible-sounding adventure stories, Grey believed him. Furthermore, he proposed to accompany Jones out West and write a book about his work. Jones agreed, and the planning commenced—until Grey saw how much the trip would cost, at which point he realized he couldn't afford it. But [his wife] Dolly… had the vision to see his potential. 'I've got a hunch that this trip to the West will be the turning point in your career,' she told him. The trip—during which he rode into the wilderness with some tough-minded Mormons, shot a mountain lion and drank in the landscape—sparked a lifelong obsession with the West. It also yielded The Last of the Plainsmen" (Samuel Hughes). During the western excursion recounted in these pages, "Grey discovered the trappers, hunters, miners and cowboys who were to become the heroes of most of his later fiction" (Lamar, 454). The trip thus "determined the subject matter of his most popular books for the next several years and ultimately helped determine what millions of Americans over several generations would choose for their reading material" (ANB). The Outing Publishing Company was "best known for its sports magazine with the same name, and few literary critics noticed its books… [but] sportsmen had enough respect for Outing's books that this work, when it was published, gained Grey a reputation as a daring and accomplished outdoorsman. Certainly Field and Stream thought so… [Its general manager Eltinge Warner] saw Grey as an upcoming writer whose unusual experiences and engaging style would attract new readers and boost subscriptions," and, on the strength of The Last of the Plainsmen, began commissioning work from Grey that would further establish him as a popular and profitable author (Pauly, 81-82). Without extremely rare original dust jacket. Myers, 9.
A few spots of foxing to interior, only light rubbing and soiling to pictorial cloth, mild toning to spine and edges of rear board. A desirable inscribed copy in extremely good condition.