"One of the half-dozen or so most important works on Texas history, government, and politics."H. P. N. Gammel [compiler]. The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897. Austin: The Gammel Book Company, 1898. First edition. One set of ten large octavo volumes. Volumes are paginated by individual section; each volume runs approximately 1500 pages, per Gammel's "Compiler's Notice" in Volume I. Also included with this set: Analytical Index to the Laws of Texas , 1823-1905 by Cadwell Walton Raines, originally published in 1906, this is a recent reprint (Clark, New Jersey: The Lawbook Exchange, 2004); 559pp.
Each volume in this ten volume set is bound in full calf. A double border is blindstamped to front and back covers; decorative hatches adorn edges of boards. Spine has raised bands and gilt-stamped red and black leather labels; the volume number is stamped in black directly to the spine. Each volume also has a thin black label (which closely matches the black title label) at the foot of the spine with a previous owner's name stamped in slightly dulled gilt; some of these owner's name labels are affixed slightly askew. The front hinge of Volume I is broken, and Volume X has a bumped and scarred corner at head of spine and a darkened abrasion at the front joint. Otherwise, all volumes are in roughly the same condition: leather is lightly worn along extremities; preliminary and terminal pages are toned around edges. All hinges are cracked, but bindings are surprisingly sturdy. Leather on all bindings has a light residue of a recently applied restorative agent. The overall condition of the set is very good. The accompanying Analytical Index volume is bound in full cloth and is like new.
Hans Peter Neilsen Gammel (1854-1931) was an early Texas bookseller and a collector and publisher of Texana. Born in Denmark, he immigrated to America in 1874 and arrived in Texas in 1877, settling in Austin. In 1881, still a relative newcomer, he was contracted to clear the debris from the fire that destroyed the old State Capitol. Young Gammel collected thousands of pages of wet and charred documents that were scattered amongst the debris, and, as legend has it, he and his wife dried the pages on clotheslines and stored them away, not knowing exactly what he would do with them, but realizing that these historic documents would be lost to posterity were he not to save them. Years later Gammel sorted and edited the papers, and the result of his efforts is this monumental set which Jenkins calls "the most valuable compilation of early laws of Texas, and still the most useful; [...] [o]ne of the half-dozen or so most important works on Texas history, government, and politics."
This compilation contains laws and political documents of Texas from the beginning of the Mexican Republic to the year of publication, 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. With an Introduction by C. W. Raines.
The set was issued by subscription, volume by volume. According to Gammel in his "Compiler's Notice" "[they] will be issued at the rate of one volume every sixty days till completed; for which the subscribers will pay as they receive them. Perhaps this is the biggest and costliest work on private account ever printed in Texas. [...] My hope of remuneration for outlay is in the Texas bar, for whose particular benefit the work was undertaken. But while indispensable to the lawyer, it will also prove a valuable vade mecum to the statesman and the historian."
It is extremely rare to find a complete set of this original edition. According to Jenkins in 1983, "A complete set of the original printings would be nearly impossible to assemble." Volume I of this set, includes the aforementioned "Compiler's Notice" noting that "this volume is a specimen," or, per Jenkins, an "advance copy." This set, which has long eluded many Texana collectors and which rarely appears on the market, would be an inestimable addition to any library.
Reference: Basic Texas Books 69.
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