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The Instinct Never Dies (with Bateman signed letter)

The Instinct Never Dies (with Bateman signed letter)

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The Instinct Never Dies (with Bateman signed letter)

by Bateman, Ed W

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  • Signed
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Kanab, Utah, United States
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About This Item

First edition. Quarto, full limp cowhide. One of the finest and rarest of Texas imprints, and one that has been referred to as the 'black tulip' of western fine printing. Of legendary rarity and highlighted in Al Lowman's The Printing Arts in Texas, this copy is accompanied by a letter from the author to Dudley Dobie concerning the book's origins and the great expense required to print it.

The book and letter were owned by W. Thomas Taylor, author of Texfake, a book which exposed the theft and forgery of early Texas documents in the 1970s; the publisher of Bookways, a quarterly devoted to book arts; and the designer/printer of over fifty books.

Printed recto only, the book was written, designed and the type set by Ed W. Bateman, a one time newspaper reporter (hence the title) and a wildcatter of great success and failure. This book was created during one of his periods of great success. The text and illustrations are printed in two colors and the subject matter ranges from a father's implacable revenge for his son's death to a Mexican marijuana party visited in the company of a Texas Ranger. A fine copy in the publisher's slipcase (with moderate wear to slipcase).

Bateman's signed letter to Dudley Dobie is extraordinary and has become rather famous in itself; on B Bar Cattle Company letterhead, dated April 13, 1941: "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." The letter is trifolded; uniformly browned, with mild chipping at edges.

One of the ultimate prizes of Texas fine printing. One of the essays in J. Frank Dobie's book, "Out of the Old Rock" (Little Brown, 1972) is about Bateman: "A wildcatter is a person who drills for oil in a place oil is not known to exist. Bankers consider his business about as safe as buying lottery tickets. In 1930, Ed Bateman, a Texas wildcatter, brought in the biggest discovery well in the history of the oil industry." Dobie refers to "The Instinct Never Dies" as follows: "Ed Bateman is a philosopher. There are many things in his philosophy that many oil men have never dreamed of. Sometimes the old urge to write seizes him. I have a rare little book that he not only wrote but designed and set with his own hands. One sketch in it is about a hermit philosopher-geologist who claimed to know the secret of finding 'enough petroleum to endow this planet for ages.'"

"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, the 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 enjoyed his money; and with his new-found wealth, he 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 Dudley Dobie, 1941).

Ed Bateman began his professional life as a newspaper reporter in Dallas and Houston, eventually finding himself on the oil business beat, reporting on and interviewing the movers and shakers of the post-World War One oil boom. He learned so much about geology and the workings of the oil business that he left his newspaper gig for the wildly speculative and wholly uncertain world of oil leasing and, later, wildcat drilling. After forty-one dry wells, his gusher - in the famed East Texas oilfield - finally came in.

Even though Bateman found his greatest success as an oil wildcatter, he always referred to himself as "an old newspaper man." He writes in the somewhat wistful and poetic introduction to The Instinct Never Dies: "This is a curious book, if you please ... at least, in one respect. It is on paper, and printed, solely to feed, and thereby still, the heart-hunger of one who, having once dipped deeply into that mysterious draught known as printer's ink, must indulge again. [...] Once away from columns that clamored hourly for fresh grist of the world, the instinct persisted strangely. [...] And it has. Through great good-fortune, I can now sit at a desk in my library for as many hours as I like, and write all I please. More extraordinary, I can pay for printing it, as simply or ornately as I like. This book is the first result. There is no necessity for selling a single copy and any newspaper man can tell you that I do not require a reading audience. I simply must write, and having written, put it to press."

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 artistic and aesthetic vision - is an appealing and thoroughly impressive book that has become almost legendary in its maddening elusiveness. This book is so exceedingly rare that few Texana collectors have ever actually seen a copy, and Bateman's letter to Dudley Dobie is unique.


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Boojum and Snark Books US (US)
Bookseller's Inventory #
The Instinct Never Dies (with Bateman signed letter)
Bateman, Ed W
Dick Spencer
Full limp cowhide
Book Condition
Quantity Available
Ed. W. Bateman, n.p., 1931
Place of Publication
Date Published

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About the Seller

Boojum and Snark Books

Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Biblio member since 2003
Kanab, Utah
Ask Seller a Question

About Boojum and Snark Books

General antiquarian and out-of-print books. Specializing in medicine, history of medicine, science, technology and technical books.


Some terminology that may be used in this description includes:

The collective of the top, fore and bottom edges of the text block of the book, being that part of the edges of the pages of a...
The page on the right side of a book, with the term Verso used to describe the page on the left side.
A new book is a book previously not circulated to a buyer. Although a new book is typically free of any faults or defects, "new"...
A defect in which small pieces are missing from the edges; fraying or small pieces of paper missing the edge of a paperback, or...
The term quarto is used to describe a page or book size. A printed sheet is made with four pages of text on each side, and the...
A book in fine condition exhibits no flaws. A fine condition book closely approaches As New condition, but may lack the...

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