Austin, TX: Gammel Book Company, 1898, 1899, 1902, 1873. First Edition. Thick 8vo. Together 12 vols., COMPLETE. Contemporary lawbook bindings (sheep with red and black labels). Original owner's names scraped off spines of vols. I-XI, but this name is present on Paschal's Digest volume ("George Powell"). Front board of vol. IV reattached, and Paschal's Digest rebacked. In general all the binding extremities are somewhat WORN on account of the soft leather, but are quite sound. Staining on spines (SEE IMAGES). Internally excellent apart from faint browning on first and last leaves offset from leather turn-ins, and inherent even toning on account of the paper stock. Good. Item #3358
COMPLETE SET OF THE FIRST EDITION IN THE ORIGINAL PUBLISHER'S LEATHER BINDINGS, RARE THUS.
Consisting of more than 15,000 pages, this almost superhuman antiquarian effort remains UNSURPASSED in the field. It is "The most valuable compilation of early laws of Texas, and still the most useful; C.W. Raines said of the set: 'These are essentially the connecting links of our legal and political history [...] This compilation is the ethical expression of the period covered, or more plainly speaking, the prevailing idea of right and wrong as applied to the social compact.' [...] Includes all the laws of Texas as a republic and state, from 1836 to 1897. [...] Equally important, however, is the inclusion of related materials. [...] One of the half-dozen or so most important works on Texas history, government, and politics." (Jenkins, Basic Texas Books 69). Gammel's "Laws of Texas" has never been superceded; its rarity and significance is attested by the fact that in 2004 the entire work was reprinted in facsimile.
Jenkins, writing in 1983, stated that "A complete set of the original printings would be nearly impossible to assemble." (Basic Texas Books 69).
The compilation and publication of "The Laws of Texas" was Gammel's most important accomplishment and the chief basis for his widespread recognition. The origins of this massive undertaking occurred when he was still a newcomer to Texas. "in 1881, the old Capitol in Austin burned. From the debris scattered on the Capitol grounds, young Gammel gathered wet papers and charred documents, loaded them in a wagon, and took them to his home. He and his wife gradually dried the pages on clotheslines and stored them with their belongings. Years later he sorted and edited the crinkled papers, then published them beginning in 1898 as the famous first ten volumes of Gammel's Laws of Texas, 1822-1897. This work won immediate acclaim, and with the addition of other volumes in later years the set came to be a basic item in law libraries across the state." (Texas State Handbook).
¶ Hans Peter Nielson Gammel (1854-1931) was born in Denmark. With little English and less money he arrived in Galveston in 1877 and thence to Austin (on foot). Between two trees near the State Capitol he set up a book stand; this rude nascent effort was to become the largest bookstore in Texas, and one of the first bookstores west of the Mississippi to carry Texana. After having some success as a bookseller and publisher, Gammel dedicated himself to cataloguing the extensive Texana and Western Americana collection he had formed for himself. The catalogue was issued in 1930 during the bleak Depression, which in any event remains one of the earliest and most important collections of its kind ever assembled hitherto. It was offered individually at fixed prices or en block for the then enormous price of $10,000.
The compilation contains laws and political documents of Texas from the beginning of the Mexican Republic to the year of publication (1897), including: Austin's Colonization Law and Contract; Mexican Constitution of 1824; Federal Colonization Law; Colonization Laws of Coahuila and Texas; Colonization Law of State of Tamaulipas; Fredonian Declaration of Independence; Laws and Decrees, with Constitution of Coahuila and Texas; San Felipe Convention; Journals of the Consultation; Proceedings of the General Council; Goliad Declaration of Independence; Journals of the Convention at Washington; Ordinances and Decrees of the Consultation; Declaration of Independence; Constitution of the Republic; Laws, General and Special, of the Republic; Annexation Resolution of the United States; Ratification of the Same by Texas; Constitution of the United States; Constitutions of the State of Texas, With All the Laws, General and Special, Passed Thereunder, Including Ordinances, Decrees, and Resolutions, With the Constitution of the Confederate States and the Reconstruction Acts of Congress."
Complete copies in any condition are scarce in private ownership; RBH, which currently has over 10 million records in the Rare Book Transactions History, lists just THREE complete copies at auction, all sold at Heritage Dallas, none of which were in the original leather bindings:
2018: ugly rebind (library cloth, hinges weak or cracked, 10 vols. only): $1250
2015: brown cloth, hinges cracking (10 vols. + Index): $3250
2011: rebound in brown buckram (10 vols. + Supplement): $7170.
NB: In 1906 Gammel published an Index to the Laws of Texas, 1822-1905, not present here but available online.
The 1873 Paschal's Digest volume is inscribed "Ralph Beaton, 1875." This may be Ralph Beaton (1853-1922) of Corsicana, TX. Beaton is known to have studied to be a lawyer, but decided that he did not like to follow that profession and devoted himself to other lines of endeavor. Beaton is credited as the discoverer and first developer of the Corsicana Oil Field, which made him a wealthy man. He later invested in water production; built the Beacon Hotel; and became a director in the Continental Savings Bank of Dallas.
Eberstadt Catalogue 161, no. 811 (offering vols. 1 & 2 only!).