The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 97, July 1993 - April, 1994

Book Reviews
Texfake: An Account of the Theft and Forgery of Early Texas Printed Documents. By W.
Thomas Taylor. (Austin: W. Thomas Taylor, 1991. Pp. xix+158. Acknowl-
edgments, introduction, illustrations, bibliography, index. $45.00 cloth;
$150.00 limited.)
W. Thomas Taylor tells a story of theft and deception that will anger anyone
who values the integrity and preservation of Texas history. It will also embarrass
many book dealers, librarians, collectors, and scholars, who-to put the kindest
face on the matter-have been gulled by the culprits.
Taylor, an Austin printer and book dealer who specializes in English items, be-
gan his adventures in Texana several years ago by exposing counterfeit copies of
the Texas Declaration of Independence. Upon delving further, he identified
other spurious documents and learned, in addition, that the fakes were part of a
larger scandal. For more than two decades, "experts" in Texana had dealt in
items, some of them unique, which had been stolen from major public deposito-
Taylor began to search for the origins of the scandal. By noting when the
questionable material appeared, who sold it, and who bought it, he built his case
carefully and methodically. He presents his findings here with a fair and even
hand. His trail led to three men: sometime Houston dealer C. Dorman David,
Austin dealer John Jenkins, and Houston auctioneer William Simpson.
Taylor treats the fakes so thoroughly that nothing more need be said about
them. But the thefts, a far more serious matter, fall under unfinished business.
As Taylor traces events, librarians at the Texas State and University of Texas li-
braries knew of major thefts as early as 1967, when Waco printer Robert E. Davis
offered a collection of rare Texana at auction in New York. Demonstrably, his
choicest items had originally belonged to public depositories, prime among
them the Texas State Archives. Rather than raising a hue and cry, the two institu-
tions quietly purchased many of the items for return to their proper home.
Dorman Winfrey was director of the Texas State Library at the time and
Chester Kielman director of the Barker Texas History Center at the University.
When Taylor recently asked them about the Davis auction, neither recalled it.
Robert Davis did respond to Taylor's inquiries, and his answer is indeed dis-
turbing. No one from the state ever questioned him about the auction; such
items were freely circulated at the time; he obtained most of his stock from Dor-

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 97, July 1993 - April, 1994. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed February 14, 2016.