"This is a curious book, if you please..."Ed Bateman. The Instinct Never Dies. N.p. [self-published in Texas], 1931.
First edition. Inscribed by the author to his sister on the title page: "To Eulah - With the hope that the pleasures you get from this volume will not arise solely from sisterly love - Edw. B." Unpaginated (39 pages). Illustrations by Dick Spencer.
Smooth limp cowhide wraparound cover, secured with a leather thong. Legal-size (7.75 x 12.5 inches) sheets of Japanese handmade paper, printed recto only in two colors. Two faint splotches to the cowhide of the front cover, one to the rear cover. A fine copy.
"Expense was no object for one of the rarest items printed during the Depression era" is the way Al Lowman, in his Printing Arts in Texas, begins his entry on this beautifully-made and almost mythically rare Texas book, produced by Ed Bateman, newspaper reporter-turned-wildcat oilman who, in 1930, brought in the Lou Della Crim No. 1, the biggest discovery well in American history. With his proceeds (rumored to be around two million dollars), Bateman bought a ranch and produced this magnificent book. "I produced this book during the Bateman Age of Extravagance, when money (for which, apparently, I have a native-born contempt) was indeed plentiful. I spent so much on it, the very sum per copy would horrify an intelligent man - not even a Morgan or a Rockefeller could or would pay what I paid" (Bateman, in a letter to bookseller Dudley Dobie, 1941).
Lowman writes: "The Instinct Never Dies reflects what one man can do when he has talent and a lot of money. [...] Bateman's reaction to his new wealth was extraordinary: he wrote, designed, and set with his own hands" this deceptively modest little book which he produced solely for his own pleasure. Though apparently self-taught, Lowman notes: "The careful letterspacing and immaculate presswork are the hallmark of an accomplished and painstaking craftsman." Bateman wrote a few other books on Western themes, but none was as personal to him as this, his first book, a collection of vignettes of people and places he had encountered in his travels. As he writes in his introduction: "...those of you who now hold the volume in your hands have two consoling thoughts for the boredom you may suffer: first, that it cost you nothing, and second, that it is the concrete results of an old newshound having a hell of a good time."
The Instinct Never Dies - the culmination of one man's aesthetic vision - is a wonderfully appealing and thoroughly impressive book that has become almost legendary in its maddening elusiveness. We are proud to offer this copy of a book so exceedingly rare that few fine press and/or Texana collectors have ever actually seen a copy.
J. Frank Dobie, Out of the Old Rock. Lowman, Printing Arts in Texas ("issued in such limited numbers that few bibliophiles have ever seen or heard of it"). C. L. Sonnichsen, Texas Humoresque, quoting Western Horseman, May 1989.
With six stories: "Compensation"; "Idealism"; "Higher Accountancy"; "Digression"; "Thrill - 1931 Model"; "Frustration."
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