($1,000-2,000) Only a few copies privately printed for the family
128. SHELDON, Mark. Mark Sheldon An Autobiographical Sketch. San Francisco: The Murdock Press, [ca. 1913].  120 pp., frontispiece (photographic portrait of author), 2 halftone plates. 8vo, original tan printed wrappers, cover title within plain black border on upper wrap. Minor wear and soiling to fragile wraps, otherwise very fine.
First edition. Anderson 1604:21: “Very scarce. Only a few copies privately printed for the family. The author arrived in San Francisco in 1851. Contains an account of the early mining days.” Cowan II, p. 581. Howell, California 50:836: “This edition was privately circulated and copies are now quite scarce. It is a hurriedly-written narrative of a long and eventful California pioneer life.” Howes S376. Rocq 12141.
Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 573:
A small portion of this privately-printed work covers the Gold Rush. Mark Sheldon of Watertown, New York, began his trip to meet his brother in the California gold country. On July 7, 1851, he left New York City on board the steamer Empire City on July 12, reached Aspinwall, crossed the Isthmus of Panama, boarded the steamship Panama, and arrived in San Francisco on August 19. From there, he took a steamer to Sacramento and thence to Mokelumne Hill. Sheldon worked various mining claims, making anywhere from $6.00 to $16.00 a day. He then became a secretary and paymaster for a Plumas County quartz mill owned by George W. Schultz. In early 1853, Sheldon moved to San Francisco and entered the marketing business.
California Ho! Via the Southern Route
3 men, 8 or 10 Vermonters, 3 Frenchmen & a lot of broken merchants from New York 129. SMITH, W[illiam] C. S. A Journey to California in 1849 By W. C. S. Smith. [Napa, ca. 1925]. 36 pp. 8vo, original blue printed wrappers with vignette of ship on upper cover, original staples. Just the slightest marginal browning to wraps, else very fine.
First edition. Cowan II, p. 893. Cf. Etter, To California on the Southern Route 166. Hill II:1588. Matthews, p. 322. Norris 3647 (suggesting only 100 copies were printed).
Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 589a:
On January 15, 1849, Smith sailed from New York on the barque Eugenia and landed at Vera Cruz, Mexico. His party consisted of twenty-one men, including eight or ten Vermonters, three Frenchmen and a "lot of broken merchants from New York." From Vera Cruz, they followed the Mexican National Road to Mexico City, and then to Guadalajara. At San Blas, Smith boarded the whaler Mary Frances and sailed north to Cabo San Lucas, Baja California. At this point, Smith left the ship and made a difficult and exhausting walk up the peninsula to San Diego, arriving on June 11, 1849. From there, he proceeded to San Francisco. The first segment of his account, dated January 24, 1851, and written in Marysville, ended at this point. The pioneer wrote a supplement in 1888, detailing his experiences in the gold country. He described San Francisco and Sacramento, and mining at Rose's Bar on the Yuba River. Becoming ill, he returned to Sacramento, where Dr. John F. Morse brought him back to health. Smith helped build a flour mill with a Mr. Fenton, visited with Sutter at the Hock Farm, and settled in Marysville.
The Norris catalog notes: "A letter from the widow of Smith states that 100 copies were printed for private distribution." The Hill Collection of Pacific Voyages, University of California, San Diego, contains the original manuscript journal. Smith's journal was published for the first time as Appendix C in Robert Glass Cleland's A History of California (New York, 1922) pp. 483-495.
“Supplies much information on mining and its impact on this instant city”—Kurutz 130. SOULÉ, Frank, John H. Gihon & James Nisbet. The Annals of San Francisco; Containing a Summary of the History of the First Discovery, Settlement, Progress, and Present Condition of California, and a Complete History of All the Important Events Connected with Its Great City: To Which Are Added, Biographical Memoirs of Some Prominent Citizens. By Frank Soulé, John H. Gihon, M. D., and James Nisbet. Illustrated with One Hundred and Fifty Fine Engravings. New York: D. Appleton & Company, 346 & 348 Broadway; San Francisco: Montgomery Street; London: 16 Little Britain, 1855. 824 pp., 6 plates, 2 maps, 154 engraved text illustrations (by leading artists and engravers of the day, some based on daguerreotypes by J. M. Ford). 8vo, publisher’s original embossed and gilt-lettered pictorial brown cloth, upper cover gilt stamped with seal of California (repeated in blind on back cover), gilt-stamped seal of San Francisco on spine. Gilt lettering on spine a little dull, moderate shelf wear (frayed at extremities and board slightly exposed at lower corners, upper hinge cracked, frontispiece foxed, offsetting to text from steel-engraved portraits, overall a good to very good copy.
Map of San Francisco. Full-page text illustration. 9.5 x 12.3 cm; 3-3/4 x 4-7/8 inches.
General Map Showing the Countries Explored & Surveyed by the United States & Mexican Boundary Commission in the Years 1850, 51, 52, & 53. Under the Direction of John R. Bartlett U.S. Commissioner. Engraved folding map. 37 x 47.5 cm; 14-1/4 x 18-3/4 inches. Early map showing the Gadsden Purchase.
[Frontispiece]: Montgomery Street, San Francisco, north, from California Street. June 1854. Engraved city scene.
Robert F. Stockton. Engraved portrait.
San Francisco in 1854. From the Head of Sacramento Street. Engraved view. Engraved city scene.
Alexina F. Baker. Engraved portrait.
Matilda Heron. Engraved portrait.
Col. John W. Geary Last Alcalde and First Mayor of San
Francisco. Engraved portrait.
First edition. Barrett, Baja California 2301. Bradford 5134. Braislin 1707. Cowan I, p. 219. Cowan II, p. 601. Cowan & Dunlap, Chinese Question 415. Graff 3901. Hamilton, Early American Book Illustrators and Wood Engravers 710 & vol. 1, pp. 71, 149, 158, 182, 200, 213 (contains information on several artists and engravers whose work appear in the text illustrations, including Harrison Eastman). Holliday 1028. Howell, California 50:791. Howes S769. Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 70: “Because the focus is on San Francisco, this has been called (by John B. Goodman III) the first California county history.” Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 594: “Supplies much information on mining and its impact on this instant city.” Libros Californianos, p. 39 (Powell commentary); pp. 64-65 (Hanna list): “Almost anything that one wants to know of life in San Francisco in the middle of the nineteenth century.... The book contains a number of valuable wood engravings and biographies of a group of pioneers—Samuel Brannan, Thomas O. Larkin, John A. Sutter, M. G. Vallejo, Joseph Folsom, et al. Extremely readable, but out of print and growing scarcer as its merits become better known.” Norris 3458. Rocq 7970. Sabin 87268. Walker, San Francisco’s Literary Frontier, pp. 22-23. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 193. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 798n: “Among the most important Western maps.... One very enterprising feature for so early a map is a dotted-line (if unlabeled) showing the Gadsden Purchase boundary.” Zamorano 80 #70.
Kurutz in Volkmann Zamorano 80 catalogue:
Noted historian Richard H. Dillon, in the most recent edition of The Annals of San Francisco, states it is “not only the best single book ever written on the City, it has proven to be the most influential book ever set in type to concern itself with San Francisco.” Considering the number of times that it has been reprinted, it may be the most popular and consulted book on the City. Written by two newspapermen, Soulé and Nisbet, and one early settler, Gihon, the book has a liveliness and readability not found in the usual Victorian-era nineteenth-century city or county history. The Annals is also a remarkable testament to the explosive development of San Francisco and California. Just seven years after the discovery of gold, this instant city lived enough history to produce an 824-page book about itself.
This trio of authors divided the book into three sections: a general summary of Spanish California; the actual annals of the City; and a section devoted to individual topics such as the “Hounds,” fires, hotels, Vigilance Committee, Steamer-Day, and memoirs of noted California pioneers. For narrating the tumultuous years of 1846 to 1854, the authors relied on the City’s newspapers and their own personal knowledge. Consequently, it represents their most important and lasting contribution. Virtually every important event and personality receives their attention. The flood of Argonauts, the transformation of the city from a sea of tents to substantial brick buildings, the noisy gambling saloons, the fights, hangings, clipper ship arrivals, fires, high prices, etc., present ample evidence that San Francisco was the most interesting, jumping city on the face of the earth. While nostalgia buffs may concentrate on the rollicking side, a careful reading will demonstrate that the City was swiftly transforming itself from a brawling town to one of world-class restaurants, theaters, literary societies, newspapers, churches, schools, public gardens, and commercial institutions. The Annals includes much information on the daily impact of the diggings and the comings and goings of thousands of gold hunters.
Such a prodigious work was not without its critics. William Francis White, a crusty forty-niner, in his book A Picture of Pioneer Times (1881), leveled a full broadside attack on the Annals, writing that “it was written in a style of bold, immoral bravado.” A more serious and thoughtful criticism came from California’s philosopher prince, Josiah Royce (q.v.), who targeted the book in his chapter entitled “The Moral Insanities of the Golden Days.” While Royce roundly criticized the authors for publishing a nostalgia-filled “delirious history,” he did not give them their just due for documenting the growth of sound civic, cultural, benevolent, and economic institutions.
The authors provided a useful appendix that included a reproduction and explanation of the Great Seal of California, text of the state constitution and city charter, and a listing of the members of the Society of California Pioneers. One of the glories of The Annals is its text illustrations and plates, some based on daguerreotypes by J. M. Ford. They form one of the best pictorial records of Gold Rush California and have since been reproduced many times. A prospectus for the Annals appeared in the November 6, 1853, San Francisco Daily Alta California. It stated that the book would be published by subscription and sold for $5.00 per copy. Notice of the book’s issuance appeared in the Alta California for June 11, 1855, and The Pioneer (July 1855). An extensive summary appeared in The Edinburgh Review for April 1858. According to the Sacramento Daily Union, July 3, 1855, the royal octavo volume came “bound in cloth, roan, calf and morocco.”
Early Pro-Chinese Treatise by a California Minister
131. SPEER, William. An Humble Plea, Addressed to the Legislature of California, in Behalf of the Immigrants from the Empire of China to this State. By the Rev. William Speer. San Francisco: Published at the Office of the Oriental, No. 68 Merchant Street, Printed by Sterett & Co., Pacific Job Office, 111 Washington Street, below Sansome, 1856. 40 pp. 8vo, original beige printed wrappers, stitched. Creased at center, wraps moderately wrinkled and with minor marginal wear, interior wrinkled and some leaves browned. The Union Theological Seminary (New York) copy with their old blue ink stamp, paper label, etc. on upper wrapper and their inkstamped accession number on p. . Upper wrapper with author’s ink note: “With respects of the author.”
First edition. Cowan I, p. 219. Cowan II, p. 604. Cowan & Dunlap, Chinese Question 419. Greenwood 768. Norris 3692: “Very rare.” Rocq 12262. Sabin 89256. Speer, the first Presbyterian missionary to work in China and organizer of the first Chinese church in the Western hemisphere, arrived in San Francisco in 1852 and established a weekly Chinese-English newspaper. It was at the office of that periodical, The Oriental, that the present pamphlet was printed. Speer’s field of labor expanded beyond religious matters, and he successfully agitated for the reform of Chinese labor in the mines, including repeal of the unfair mining tax against the Chinese. Here he points out that the Chinese are vital sources of labor in mining and other industries. He argues that the mining fees charged them be reduced to match that of every other miner and that the capitation tax on newly arrived immigrants also be lowered. In conclusion Rev. Speer states: “I can scarce hope for success as a minister of the gospel in leading them to adore our God, or love our Savior, as long as the present state of things continues.” ($400-800)
A Modern Rarity
132. STEELE, John. In Camp and Cabin. Mining Life and Adventure, in California during 1850 and Later. By Rev. John Steele, Author of “Across the Plains in 1850,” and “The Schoolmates, an Epic of the War of 1861-5.” Lodi: Published by J. Steele, 1901. [2, blank], [2, title], 81 [3, blank] pp., printed in double column. 8vo, original grey printed wrappers, title within plain black rule border on upper cover. One small stain on front free endpaper, first few leaves lightly browned, otherwise very fine. Preserved in a half brown hard-grain morocco and tan cloth solander box.
First edition. Adams, Guns 2130 (noting rarity and presence of material on Joaquín Murieta). Bauer 457. Braislin 1718. Cowan II, p. 612. Graff 3964. Holliday 1044. Howes S924(“b”). Littell 998. Norris 3726. Plath 1015. Rocq 16078. Plains & Rockies IV:244. Streeter Sale 3027. A true modern rarity, cutting across several fields of collecting: Westward migration, California Gold Rush, lawlessness in the West.
Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 598:
This detailed and important account of mining life is a sequel to Across the Plains. The three years of mining experience portrayed in this book was based on Steele’s daily journal. Steele published the book fifty years after the adventure. According to the introduction: “The author . . . faithfully delineated the everyday life and experience of the average miner.” He provided important information on mining techniques and laws while laboring in the Coloma District and on the Yuba and Feather rivers. The diary began on September 23, 1850, and ended late in July 1853, with his return to Wisconsin. While trying to depart from San Francisco, he recorded how his two pistols saved him from being robbed.
133. STIRLING, Patrick James. The Australian and Californian Gold Discoveries, and Their Probable Consequences; or, an Inquiry into the Laws which Determine the Value and Distribution of the Precious Metals: with Historical Notices of the Effects of the American Mines on European Prices in the Sixteenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth Centuries. in a Series of Letters. By Patrick James Stirling, F.R.S.E., Author of “The Philosophy of Trade.” Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, Tweeddale Court. Agents in London, Simpkin, Marshall, & Co., 1853. , xiii , -279 [1, blank] pp., folding chart at front: The Gold Discoveries and Their Probable Consequences. Stirling Oliver & Boyd. 8vo, original blindstamped red cloth, spine gilt-lettered. Light shelf wear and slight discoloration to binding, otherwise fine.
First edition. Cowan I, p. 222. Cowan II, p. 616. Ferguson 16282. Howes S1013. Sabin 91851. This is one of the few early works linking the California and Australian gold discoveries and the possible consequences to the international economy.
Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 606a:
The Stirling work consists primarily of an economic discourse on gold, history of coinage, comparison with silver, and the economic effects of the Australian and California gold discoveries. Not surprisingly, the Englishman emphasized the Australian mining operations.
134. [STONE, John A.]. Put’s Golden Songster. Containing the Largest and Most Popular Collection of California Songs Ever Published. By the Author of “Put’s Original California Songster.” San Francisco: D. E. Appleton & Co., . 64 pp. 12mo, original blue pictorial wrappers with wood-engraved view of riparian mining scene, stitched. Wraps slightly chipped, old violet ink stain on upper right corners of a few leaves towards end not affecting text. Overall, a fine copy of a fragile item.
First edition. Cowan I, p. 183. Cowan II, p. 599. Greenwood 983. Howell, California 50:1209: “Scarce item.” Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 162: “Much of the flavor of the gold days, as well as the era’s pathos and humor, pervades these ephemeral little publications.” Often overlooked is the fact that this small volume is also a joke book containing about a dozen humorous bon mots scattered among the songs. Although many of the songs are humorous or ironic, “Loss of the ‘Central America,’” the first song in the book, is unique in its vituperation, here directed towards the ship’s owners:
‘Twould be very fine were the owners aboard,
And sink where they never would rise;
‘Twould any amount of amusement afford,
And cancel a million lies.
When the Central America, nicknamed “The Ship of Gold,” foundered off Cape Hatteras on September 12, 1857, it was the worst maritime disaster in U. S. history; the ship took to the bottom over four hundred people and tons of gold. One hundred thirty years later, the wreck of the Central America was found at a depth of 8,500 feet by modern-day, technologically equipped treasure hunters, and much of her cargo of gold was salvaged. ($200-400)
“California is not what we expected”
135. STUART, J. C. Autograph letter signed to J. Condley, dated at Sacramento, December 18, 1850. 2 pp., folio. Edges rough, some staining and creasing (loss of a few letters).
Gold Rush letter from a provisioner. He asks Condley to please have his family write to him since he is lonely and would love to receive news from home. He also comments about how his business is going and states that the work for the moment is more or less profitable despite the rain that has slowed down transportation. Describing some of his travails he comments: “I have mad som money her & lost somthing. Last weak I had Boath my horses stollen, thats a comon thing her, stealying horses & mules.” He concludes: “California is not what we expected but I think I can make anough her to ansser my purpos.” He advises his correspondent against sending his sons to California, noting that mining business has been slow for lack of water, although the recent rains have greatly improved that situation: “You and Squire Condley talkt somting when I left of sendding your boys this Spring. My advice is to keep them a home & all others that are doing a fair business. The mines so far reminds me very mutch of a mild one at home.” ($300-600)
“Swelled with justifiable pride”—Kurutz
Zamorano 80 & in the deluxe binding
136. SWASEY, W[illiam] F. The Early Days and Men of California by W. F. Swasey. Oakland: Pacific Press Publishing Company; San Francisco, New York and London, 1891. x, 9-406 pp., 4 plates:  frontispiece: San Francisco in 1846-47...;  halftone portrait of Swasey;  The Townsend-Murphy Immigrants-1844...;  untitled plate illustrating seals of the state of California and the Society of California Pioneers. 8vo, original full brown morocco stamped in gilt and blind, upper cover with gilt illustration of Golden Gate at sunset, spine gilt, bevelled edges, inner gilt dentelles, a.e.g., marbled endpapers. Spine and top edges of binding slightly light, otherwise very fine, in publisher’s special gilt presentation binding. Contemporary purple ink stamp of Geo[rge] C[lement] Perkins on front free endpaper. Perkins (1839-1923) was the fourteenth governor of California and U.S. Senator from the state from 1893-1915. Perkins arrived on a ship in California as a young man, having run away from his Maine home when thirteen years old to become sailor. Lower free endpaper with gilt label of Books, Inc., Fairmont Hotel of San Francisco.
First edition. Braislin 1754. Cowan I, p. 225. Cowan II, p. 627. Eberstadt, Modern Narratives of the Plains and the Rockies 470. Graff 4047. Howell, California 50:862. Howes S1167. Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 72. Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 615. Kurutz & Mathes, The Forgotten War, pp. 173-174. Mintz, The Trail 453. Norris 3860. Plath 1034. Rocq 17172. Streeter Sale 3012. Tutorow 3366. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 203. Zamorano 80 #72.
Gary Kurutz in Volkmann Zamorano 80 catalogue:
Captain Swasey possessed firsthand knowledge of significant early events and personally knew many of the California pioneers described in this fact-filled book. He was often at the right place and the right time. Although written many years later, his book shows reliability, self-assurance, and polish.
He opened his book with an admirable autobiography that concentrated on his life prior to 1850. A native of Maine, the former mountain man came overland to California from St. Louis in 1845 and obtained employment variously as a bookkeeper for Captain Sutter, as a clerk for the noted merchant William Heath Davis, and as a consular clerk for Thomas O. Larkin. When the Mexican-American War erupted, he joined Frémont’s California Battalion as assistant commissary. Following the war, Swasey found himself in the thick of things when Marshall discovered gold. Recalling those heady days, he wrote: “In the following July 1  I took the first extensive stock of goods taken to Sutter’s Mill.... In September I took to San Francisco the first large amount of gold from the mines, eight-two pounds avoirdupois.” Such positions and experiences provided rich material for his book. Afterwards, he lived in San Francisco holding a position as notary public and was called upon as a witness for several important land cases. During the Civil War, he served as captain of the volunteers stationed at Benicia. Demonstrating his interest in San Francisco’s already legendary past, he published the famous View of San Francisco in ’47 (reproduced as the frontispiece) depicting the village of Yerba Buena on the eve of the gold discovery. In addition, Swasey supplied Bancroft with a preliminary recollection entitled California in ’45-46.
Following his autobiography, Swasey developed several excellent chapters on the American conquest of Alta California. As a member of the California Battalion, he participated in and observed many of the key events and, in his narrative history, wrote with the satisfaction of the victor. Swasey vigorously disagreed with Bancroft’s coverage of the conflict stating: “Mr. Bancroft indulges in a redundancy of denial and denunciation. He denounces the whole Mexican War as rooted in crime and cupidity. One of his critics pertinently says that ‘he forgets the American and remembers only the cosmopolite [meaning Mexican] and the historian.’” Throughout his text, he made an effort to counter Bancroft’s conclusions.
The main portion of Swasey’s work is devoted to short sketches of sixty-one pre–Gold Rush pioneers and two dozen Argonauts. These number among the most famous Anglo names in the state from the 1840s and 1850s including the likes of John C. Frémont, W. D. M. Howard, Moses Schallenberger, Edwin Bryant, Edward C. Kemble, Nathan Spear, and William A. Richardson. Swasey swelled with justifiable pride concerning these pre-1848 figures, writing with a self-congratulatory tone typical of his era. In characterizing the subjects of his profiles he wrote that they “were composed of a class of men who were in the full vigor of early manhood, imbued with a spirit of adventure in its highest sense, and backed by intelligence and supreme self-reliance.... They found California an uncultivated, almost unpopulated, paradise, blooming in silence and solitude, amid primeval and magnificent luxuriance, like a young maiden waiting for her bridegroom.”
“This work by an eminent writer and artist is probably the outstanding book on the early gold rush in California”—Zamorano Eighty
137. TAYLOR, Bayard. Eldorado, or, Adventures in the Path of Empire: Comprising a Voyage to California, via Panama; Life in San Francisco and Monterey; Pictures of the Gold Region, and Experiences of Mexican Travel. By Bayard Taylor, Author of “Views A-Foot,” “Rhymes of Travel,” etc. With Illustrations by the Author. New York: [C. W. Benedict, Stereotyper and Printer, 201 William St., for] George P. Putnam; London: Richard Bentley, 1850. Vol. I: xii, 251 [1, blank] pp., 4 plates. Vol. II:  - [2, list of illustrations, verso blank] -247 [1, blank] 17, 17A, 23-43  (publisher’s catalogue, this sequence not noted in BAL) pp., 4 plates. Total: 8 tinted lithograph plates. 2 vols., 12mo, original green blindstamped cloth, title stamped in gilt on backstrips. Spines light, minor shelf wear, lower cover of Vol. II with quarter-sized abrasion (with some board visible). Text block of Vol. I at p. 168 split (but holding strong), plates with moderate to heavy foxing, light foxing to text, otherwise very good, tissue guards present. Contemporary ink presentation to Frances A. Kimball, from her grandmother, D. V. Kimball. Preserved in green cloth slipcase with black gilt-lettered label.
[Frontispiece]: San Francisco in November, 1848. [left side]: From a Sketch by J. C. Ward, Esq. [below caption]: New York, Geo. P. Putnam. Lower Bar, Mokelumne River. [below caption]: New York, Geo. P. Putnam. Monterey. [below caption]: New York, Geo. P. Putnam. The Volcano Diggings.
[Frontispiece]: San Francisco in November 1849. [below print, left side]: Bayard Taylor; [right side]: Sarony & Major. [below caption]: New York, Geo. P. Putnam.
Sacramento City, from the South. [below caption]: New York, Geo. P. Putnam. Portsmouth Square, San Francisco. Mazatlan. First edition. BAL 19638. Bennett, American Book Collecting, p. 106. Braislin 1762. Cowan I, p. 226. Cowan II, p. 630. Graff 4073. Gudde, California Gold Camps, pp. 423-24. Hill, p. 289: “The book met with great success, selling 10,000 copies in America and 30,000 in England within two weeks.” Holliday 1076. Howes T43. Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 73. Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 618a. LC, California Centennial 176. Libros Californianos, pp. 40-41 (Powell commentary): “His chronicle of the voyage to California via Panama is the best in print, and his chapters dealing with the constitutional convention at Monterey in 1849 are unexcelled”; p. 67 (Hanna List). Norris 3874. Peters, California on Stone, pp. 196-97. Rocq 16098. Streeter Sale 2654. Vail, Gold Fever, p. 23. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 204. Zamorano 80 #73.
The tinted plates are lithographs after the author’s original artwork. See Van Nostrand, The First Hundred Years of Painting in California (pp. 28, 30-31, 125-226) and Van Nostrand & Coulter, California Pictorial (pp. 122-223, illustrating plate of Lower Bar, Mokelumne River).
Kurutz note from the Volkmann Zamorano 80 catalogue:
Robert Glass Cleland, in the introduction to the Borzoi edition of this two-volume opus, wrote: “This work by an eminent writer and artist is probably the outstanding book on the early Gold Rush in California.” Dale Morgan provided this critique: “The chief defect of his narrative is its point of view, that of a detached observer rather than that of a participant.” While Morgan may be correct, Taylor’s command of the language and the scenes he witnessed make Eldorado one of California’s greatest books. Only J. D. Borthwick’s Three Years in California (q.v.) exceeds this as a Gold Rush narrative and only because the Scotsman actually worked a claim. Attesting to the staying power of Eldorado, it is still in print and has probably been reprinted more times than any other book on California history.
Taylor, a successful author and correspondent with Horace Greeley’s New YorkTribune, came to California to cover the most exciting story in the world, the Gold Rush. He left New York on the Falcon on June 28, 1849, crossed the Isthmus of Panama, boarded the Oregon and arrived in San Francisco on August 18. Ironically, Taylor noted that a New Yorker in San Francisco sold 1,500 copies of his newspaper (the Tribune) for a dollar a piece in two hours. Lieutenant Edward F. Beale (to whom the book is dedicated) accompanied Taylor on most of his travels. He visited the diggings between the Cosumnes and Mokelumne Rivers as well as the major towns and camps. The journalist’s portrayal of San Francisco and Sacramento are verbal masterpieces. He described San Francisco at night, dotted with campfires and transparent lantern-lit canvas houses, making the city gleam “like an amphitheatre of fire.” His imagery of Sacramento City with its earsplitting sounds, its gaudily decorated tent saloons, and the hilarious performances at California’s only theater, the Eagle, demonstrate his singular talent. In addition, Taylor visited Monterey and witnessed the state constitutional convention. He left San Francisco on January 1, 1850, on board the Oregon, along with a cargo of $2 million in gold and several distinguished passengers including the newly-elected Senators Frémont and Gwin and Congressmen Gilbert and Wright. T. Butler King, whose report of March 22, 1850 comprises the appendix, was also a passenger. Reflecting on his short but kaleidoscopic visit, Taylor wrote, “The world’s history has no page so marvelous as that which has just been turned in California.” The remainder of Eldorado records his cross-country sojourn in Mexico and return trip to New York.
Eldorado was simultaneously published by Putnam’s in New York and Richard Bentley in London. The exclusive English edition of that year is identical except for a newly printed title page. Portions of the text appeared earlier in the New York Tribune. Prior to publication, Taylor wrote Putnam, saying: “I have quite a number of illustrative sketches, to be engraved, all of which will greatly increase the interest of the book. By managing the thing properly, 10,000 copies can be sold in a year.” In another letter, dated May 10, 1850, Taylor stated: “Putnam has orders for near two thousand copies, and can’t get the books bound fast enough.” Taylor wrote in June 30, 1850: “I must also tell you that there are now three reprints of ‘El Dorado’ in London.” A popular work, several pirated editions also appeared in 1850 and, by 1859, the “eighteenth” edition was published. However, there is no evidence of the ninth through seventeenth editions. In 1882, the copyright changed to Marie Taylor.
(2 vols.) ($1,000-2,000)
138. TAYLOR, Clotilde G. (editor). Dear Family: The Story of the Lives of Charles and Clotilde Grunsky 1823-1891 As Revealed in Diaries and in Their Letters to Their Respective Families...Translated by Carl Ewald Grunsky and Clotilde Grunsky Taylor. [Berkeley, 1955]. Reproduced from a typewritten copy. v, 141 pp., 9 leaves of photographic plates. 4to, unbound. A few leaves punched for looseleaf binding. Very light wear (especially to first and last leaves), generally fine. Very rare, although copies are in the University of California at Berkeley and California Historical Society.
First edition (apparently a very limited distribution). Rocq 13073. Extracts of some of these letters appeared in the Society of California Pioneers Quarterly (1933). Originally written in German, these letters tell the story of Charles and Clotilde Grunsky, who emigrated from Germany to California during the Gold Rush, settling in Stockton, where they lived the rest of their lives. Taylor, in her introduction, provides a brief summary of their lives and characters. The illustrations are generally taken from nineteenth-century photographs of family members, all of whom are identified. ($200-400)
Wonderful copy of Thompson & West History of Nevada County 139. [THOMPSON & WEST (publishers)]. [WELLS, Henry Laurenz (compiler)]. History of Nevada County California with Illustrations Descriptive of Its Scenery, Residences, Public Buildings, Fine Blocks, and Manufactories. From Original Sketches by Artisans of the Highest Ability. Oakland: Thompson & West, 1880. 234 pp., 83 lithographed plates (one counted as part of pagination; several double-page; several with multiple images; Donner Party leaf with image on recto and verso), plus hand-colored lithographed map: Map of California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona Published by Thompson & West Oakland. 1880 (24.7 x 31.6 cm; 9-3/4 x 12-1/2 inches). Oblong folio, original black cloth stamped in gilt and blind, expertly rebacked with sympathetic black morocco spine, retaining original new endpapers. First few leaves with some wrinkling and expert strengthening, first few leaves with very light waterstaining at top blank margins, otherwise a very fine copy with very fresh plates and the map fine and bright. Later ink and pencil ownership inscriptions of Emily M. H. Jeffery on front pastedown, front flyleaf, title, and in blank margin of map. This copy is in wonderful condition for such an unwieldy book, usually found in dilapidated condition and missing plates or the map. Unfortunately, the Thompson & West plate books are often the victims of breakers.
First edition. Blumann & Thomas 2191. Bradford 742. Cowan II, p. 452. Cowan & Dunlap, Chinese Question 471. Howes N60. Rocq 5957. Some of the handsome lithographs were executed by C. L. Smith & Company. The history includes information and illustrations of gold mining in the area. Not only are there illustrations of various current mining operations, but Chapters XLIX to LIX (pp. 170-206) give extensive information on older mines still operating in Nevada County and on mining operations in use at the time. This section includes historical information on the early development of area mining during the Gold Rush. Chapter XV (pp. 40-46) gives a history of the discovery of gold in California.
The text at pp. 38-40 and the two accompanying plates concern the Donner Party. The plate entitled “Arrival of the Relief Party” is especially dramatic, showing two figures crawling from beneath their snow-covered shelters.
Thompson & West published encyclopedic histories of counties and their development, with highly inclusive surveys of every aspect of a region from early history to the time of publication. What makes the Thompson & West histories so appealing are the many lithographic plates of scenes of urban and rural life, rather than the usual array of pioneer portraits so prevalent in many county histories. These Thompson & West Victorian images, often idyllic and nostalgic to the modern eye, provide superb documentary details of architecture, street scenes, homes, farms, ranches, businesses, transportation, material culture, and social history. ($2,400-3,600)