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Brand Books

A printed register of brands used by individuals and companies to identify their livestock. Generally intended as a portable and utilitarian object, the typical brand book of the American West was often carried by working cowboys on the range.

 
  • Brand books were a particular collecting interest of Philip Ashton Rollins '89, founder of the Western Americana Collection and author of The Cowboy: His Characteristics, His Equipment, and His Part in the Development of the West (Scribners, 1922).  The collection grew notably under the guidance of the library’s first Curator of Western Americana, Alfred Bush.  Highlights include the earliest extant printed brand book, Libro de marchi de caualli … (Venice, 1569); a large folio publication containing more than 8,500 brands, Coleccion general de las marcas del ganado de la provincial de Buenos Aires (n.p., ca. 1840); one of the first Utah territorial imprints and the first brand book printed in the United States, known as the “Deseret Brand Book” (Salt Lake City, 1850); and a bound manuscript volume, "Mark and Brand Book for Hill County, Texas" (1853-1881). 

    For a summary of the collection, see: William S. Reese, “Brand Books in the Princeton Collections of Western Americana,” PULC LXVII, 2 (Winter, 2006): pp. 237-251. 

  • An advance subject search in Books+ for "Cattle Brands" or "Brand Books" will retrieve nearly 100 titles in the Rare Book Division.  

    Notalbe early works include: the earliest extant printed brand book, Libro de marchi de caualli … (Venice, 1569); a large folio publication containing more than 8,500 brands, Coleccion general de las marcas del ganado de la provincial de Buenos Aires (n.p., ca. 1840); and one of the first Utah territorial imprints and the first brand book printed in the United States, known as the “Deseret Brand Book” (Salt Lake City, 1850).

     

  • The Cattle and Horse Brands Collection (WC029) consists of lists with drawings of cattle brands recorded in Contra Costa County, Calif. (1852), Buenos Aires, Argentina (1854), and Italy (1600s); records of military brands used for horses during the Mexican Revolution (1913); a letter (1932) from the Cattle Sanitary Board of New Mexico regarding a brand application; receipts for sale of cattle (1865) in Steilacoom, Washington Territory; and samples of brands burned into hide, leather, and wood.

    Also notable in the Manuscripts Division is a bound volume, "Mark and Brand Book for Hill County, Texas," spanning the years between 1853 and 1881.  The volume of 119 leaves is an extensive and meticulously maintained manuscript recording brands and marks used by hundreds of cattle ranchers in Hill County, Texas, located between Dallas and Waco. Call Number: C0938 (no. 153f). 

  • Several branding irons are housed in the Museum Objects section of Graphic Arts.  The records can be found by via a subject search in the Visuals Database for "Cattle Brands."  Related prints of livestock (primarily European) can be found with a subject search for "cattle."

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