New Orleans: J. S. Rivers, 1885. First edition. Original publisher's cloth stamped in gilt, black and blind. Corners bumped and extremities generally shelfworn. Front hinge a bit tender but holding well. Bookplate donor bookplate of state historian Abigail Curlee Holbrook, PhD to front pastedown; Abilene Christian University ownership and deaccession stamps to closed bottom textblock, front endpaper, and lower title page. Contemporary ownership signature of Hattie St. Claire of San Antonio to front endpaper. Overall internally clean with some occasional light scattered foxing, largely confined to margins. Complete, including all 6 folding color plates. Well represented at Texas institutions, copies are harder to locate outside the Lone Star; and the title is more scarce in trade, with this the only copy currently on the market.
The first anthology of Texas literature compiled by a woman. Gems from a Texas Quarry was an opportunity for Steuart, the daughter of Houston's mayor, to promote both the intellectual and cultural achievements of Texas as well as her fellow stateswomen's demands for equality. As Steuart articulates in the preface, her state's greatest asset is its diversity: "Coming from all sections of this country and the world, the people of Texas are not only cosmopolitan in their views, but of that robust and energetic construction of mind as well as of body, which plucks success out of the greatest of difficulties, and takes on ornamentation without diminishing strength. Hence is found in their literature all the styles of thinking, feeling, and expression which these pages disclose." In this souvenir volume to be sold at the World Industrial Exhibition taking place in New Orleans, Steuart chose to include no fewer than 55 selections by women. Thus, women writers comprised 63% of a record promoting and exhibiting the state's contributions to the South and to the nation at large. Among the poems, stories, and essays depicting the Texas landscape, exploring its natural wonders, and praising its history are also pieces addressing income inequality that held women back in being equal to male residents. Considered a more important topic even than suffrage for women of the state, Steuart used her privileged political and authorial position to ensure that as many Americans as possible read about and felt sympathy for the cause. A historic moment in state and regional history. Very Good + (Item #3981)