Verum quid non auri sacra fames compellit acquiescere?
To what lengths will men not go for the cursed love of gold?
1. ANSTED, David T. The Gold-Seeker’s Manual. By David T. Ansted, M.A. F.R.S. Professor of Geology, King’s College, London, etc. Consulting Mining Engineer. London: [Richard and John E. Taylor, Red Lion Court, Fleet Street, for] John Van Voorst, Paternoster-Row, 1849. , 172, [6, ads] pp. 8vo, publisher’s original dark olive green cloth, printed paper labels on upper cover and spine. Binding with light shelf wear and a few minor bumps, labels slightly rubbed and darkened, spine label with minor losses costing a few letters. Except for browning to endpapers, interior very fine.
Second London edition, expanded with 76 pp. of additional material not in the first edition or the American reprint, both published earlier the same year. Pages 154-172 concern “the prospects of California as a gold-producing country.” Cf. Braislin 45. Cf. Cowan, I p. 6: “Standard authority of the time.” Cowan II, p. 17. Cf. Holliday 20. Howell, California 50:9. Howes A286. Rocq 15677. Sabin 1647. Cf. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 5. Almost half of this practical manual is devoted to California. Chapters include: “The Gold District of California,” “The Geology of California,” “Probable Influence of the Gold in California on the Value of Gold,” and “The Prospects of California as a Gold-Producing Country.”
Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 19:
The English geologist wrote in his introduction: “It is proposed in the present manual to give an account, first, of the chief districts in which gold has hitherto been found, including California, itself; to explain then the way in which the metal usually occurs in nature, and the modes by which it may be certainly distinguished from other substances resembling it; to describe afterwards the modes which have been generally adopted to separate the metal from associated stones and earths, and reduce it to a convenient form for transport.” The concluding chapter described California’s prospects as a gold-producing country and promoted the gold discovery as a grand opportunity for English manufacturers.
From author’s introduction, p. 2: “I shall not waste the time of the reader by any general remarks not strictly belonging to the subject, but endeavour in every way to render this little work a practical manual that may be useful to the emigrant and instructive to those who may be inclined to join in the speculations that will no doubt be set on foot immediately in this country and America.” Ansted (1814-1880), an educator and prolific writer on geological and engineering topics, was well respected in his field at the time. ($1,000-2,000)
Gold Rush Ephemera—Articles in a Miner’s Creed 2. Articles in a Miner’s Creed [by] Forty-Nine. Entered...1855, by James M. Hutchings....Broadside, printed in double column within ornamental border. Single sheet measures 25 x 20 cm (9-7/8 7-13/16 inches), white laid paper, unruled. Fine.
Baird, California’s Pictorial Letter Sheets (p. 24, note 8) lists this as a non-pictorial letter sheet. This is the issue with the last line of text in the first column ending “isn’t.” rather than “sn’t.” and copyright notice ending “California.” Thirty-five articles, practical to humorous, on the life of the miner. The last article is: “He believes that California, with all its social drawbacks, is not only a ‘great country,’ but that it is in every sense the best place in the world for a working man, and only awaits the coming of a good, sensible, intelligent, and contented class of women to make ‘the desert to blossom as the rose,’ and man to become rich, contented and happy.” ($1,000-2,000)
3. BAIRD, Joseph Armstrong. California’s Pictorial Letter Sheets, 1849-1869. San Francisco: [Robert Grabhorn & Andrew Hoyem for] Grabhorn Press for David Magee, 1967. 171 [1, blank], [2, colophon] pp., title in red and black, rule in running title and opening initial letters in red throughout text, captions on plates in red, colophon in red and black, 59 plates (4 folding) of facsimile California pictorial letters tinted to tones of originals, 1 folding facsimile in rear pocket. Folio, original red morocco over red and white decorated boards, spine gilt lettered. Head of spine slightly chafed, otherwise very fine, prospectus laid in.
Limited edition (475 copies). Grabhorn-Hoyem 6. Howell, California 50:1289: “The standard work on the first two decades of California’s pictorial letter sheets, listing 343 items, of which 60 are reproduced in full and tinted to resemble the original paper on which they were printed. The letter sheets are an extremely important visual source for California’s early history.” ($200-400)
4. BALL, Nicholas. Voyages of Nicholas Ball, from 1839 to 1853. In Tabulated Form, with Notes. Together with a Summary of a Trip to Europe in 1888. Boston: L. Barta & Co., Printers, 144 & 148 High Street, 1895. 38, [2, ads] pp., frontispiece (steel-engraved portrait), plus 7 engravings and halftones (scenes). 8vo, original dark maroon pebble cloth, title stamped in gilt on upper cover. Split between free endpaper and verso of frontispiece, mild foxing to portrait and tissue guard, otherwise fine. Presentation rubber stamp on front free endpaper, completed in ink, presented to Hon. Robert Coit, signed by Nicholas Ball and dated at Block Island, R.I., May 20, 1895.
First edition. Cowan II, p.30. Howell, California 50:279: “The itemized gold mining record under a separate title at the back is one of the most accurate presentations of the actual cost and profit of placer mining in the California gold region.” Howes B68. Norris 179: “Privately printed by the author for his friends only.” Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 9.
Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 32:
Pages 31 to 35 contain an “Itemized Mining Record kept by Nicholas Ball in 1850 and 1851.” The record’s daily entries account for the pails of dirt shoveled and the value of the gold extracted. The volume also includes notes from a journal and a letter to his brother dated January 19, 1851, from Rattlesnake Bar on the North Fork of the American River. The final page is an advertisement for The Pioneers of ’49 which he sold for $2.50 a copy. The author’s preface is dated January 1, 1895. Many of the illustrations consist of reproductions from earlier works such as the Annals of San Francisco.
Barry & Patten in Original Wrappers
5. BARRY, T[heodore] A. & B[enjamin] A. Patten. Men and Memories of San Francisco, in the “Spring of ’50.” By T. A. Barry and B. A. Patten. San Francisco: A. L. Bancroft & Company, Publishers, Booksellers and Stationers, 1873. 296 pp. 8vo, original sage green wrappers, printed and decorated in black. Fragile wraps lightly chipped and worn. Scattered mild to moderate foxing (heavier on title). Very good copy, rare in wraps (not recorded in wraps). This copy without the double-frontispiece (the book is frequently found thus and Kurutz makes no mention of it).
First edition. Bradford 262. Cowan I, p. 13. Cowan II, p. 36. Graff 197. Holliday 47. Howes B192. Littell 45. Norris 219. Rocq 8248. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 12.
Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 38a:
Barry and Patten, the proprietors of a famous city saloon at the corner of Washington and Kearny streets, produced a historical geography and biographical directory of early San Francisco, full of episodes, and valuable for the reconstruction of the city and location of buildings in `49, `50, and `51. The authors profiled many of the pioneer businesses in the city ranging from restaurants to the Chinese laundry. The authors dated the preface May 1873. Wheat calls this “Informative and engaging gossip.” Morgan says “...has little to say about the gold region.”
6. BARRY, T[heodore] A. & B[enjamin] A. Patten. Men and Memories of San Francisco, in the “Spring of `50.” By T. A. Barry and B. A. Patten. San Francisco: A. L. Bancroft & Company, Publishers, Booksellers and Stationers, 1873. 296 pp. 8vo, publisher’s original dark green blindstamped cloth, front cover and title gilt-stamped (expertly recased). Extremities chafed, otherwise fine. Without double frontispiece, as usual.
First edition. Another copy of preceding, in cloth. ($150-300)
Rare Gold Rush Allegory—Illustrated by Charles Nahl
7. [BAUSMAN, William (attributed)]. The Idle and Industrious Miner [title within ornamental border and with illustration of miner’s pick and whiskey bottle]. Sacramento: James Anthony & Co., Publishers, 21 J Street, 1854. 23  pp., 19 text engravings by Thomas Armstrong after Charles Nahl. 8vo, original upper green pictorial wrapper (restitched). Wrapper has small voids in blank areas and is reinforced on verso with archival tape, a few stains and scattered light foxing to text, creased where formerly folded, faint rubber stamp at top of wrapper (reading in part: “From Parker [illegible].” Overall a very good copy of a book difficult to find in any condition. In 1923, the pamphlet was described as “very rare” (Huntington Sale 447).
First edition. AII, California Non-Documentary Imprints 31. Cowan I, pp. 64-65 (under Delano). Cowan II, p. 39. Greenwood 473. Hamilton, Early American Book Illustrators and Wood Engravers 1111; see also Vol. I, pp. 190-191: “Armstrong, an English-born engraver, was the guiding spirit of the Illustrated News, the first illustrated paper of the Pacific Coast.” Howell, California 50:289. Howes B247. Streeter Sale 2756: “The great appeal of this pamphlet lies in the many spirited drawings and capital letters with the text and in the pictorial front wrapper which, though unsigned, are said in the preface to be by Nahl and engraved by ‘Mr. Armstrong.’ The pictures illustrate a poem where virtue is rewarded and vice pays the penalty. The hero is shown as depositing his well-earned bag of gold with the banking house of Adams & Co. If my impression is correct that Adams & Co. failed, then it is to be hoped that the hero drew his money out first; otherwise virtue would not have been rewarded after all. I do not know the authority by which the second edition of Cowan ascribed the authorship of the poem to William Bausman.—TWS”
Charles Nahl (1818-78), the “Cruikshank of California,” joined the Gold Rush in 1850 and became one of the first resident California artists of significance. His work vividly captures the disappointments and triumphs of mining and pioneering life, blending realism, pathos, and humor.
Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 43:
Cowan, in the revised and expanded 1933 edition of his bibliography, attributed this work to William Bausman instead of to Alonzo Delano as he did in 1914. Cowan does not, however, explain his reasoning. Charles Nahl designed the illustrations and Thomas Armstrong produced the engravings. The illustrations first appeared in the Sacramento Pictorial Union for July 4, 1854. This melodramatic poem was based on William Hogarth’s Rake’s Progress. In this nineteen episode work, two miners are profiled with one succumbing to alcohol and gambling while the other one perseveres, works his claim, and returns safely to his family. As Moreland L. Stevens points out in his Charles Christian Nahl: Artist of the Gold Rush (Sacramento: E. B. Crocker Art Gallery, 1976), the genesis of Nahl’s celebrated painting, “Sunday Morning in the Mines” may be seen in this allegorical work. Stevens further states: “The success of The Idle and Industrious Miner firmly established Nahl’s reputation as an illustrator.” Notice of the work appeared in the San Francisco Daily Alta California for January 10, 1855. The publication sold for $30 per hundred and single copies for $.50 each.
This melodramatic poem was reproduced by the Sacramento Union in 1920 and in ca. 1945 by Ghost Town News.
“The first set of illustrations by Charles Christian Nahl for a full-length book”—Kurutz
8. BENTON, J[oseph] A[ugustine]. The California Pilgrim: A Series of Lectures, By J. A. Benton, Pastor of the First Church of Christ in Sacramento. Sacramento: Solomon Alter, Publisher; San Francisco: Marvin & Hitchcock, San Francisco. 1853. 261 [1, blank] pp., 6 wood-engraved plates. 12mo, original black cloth, spine gilt-lettered Head of spine snagged and with one small chip, corners nicked, front hinge cracked (but strong), endpapers and a few leaves a bit dusty (easily cleans up), a very good copy.
First edition. Book Club of California, California Printing, p. 8: “Written in imitation of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress...first Protestant book to be published in California. Reverend Benton warns of the dangers of gold fever and, in highly allegorical language, describes many California gold rush personalities and events, including the burning of Sacramento.” Bradford 356. Cowan I, p. 16. Cowan II, p. 49. Greenwood 378. Holliday 75. Littell 59. Norris 271. Rocq 6622.
Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 49:
According to the prefatory note, Reverend Benton conceived the idea of these allegorical lectures on California life while on a visit to the country. He wrote: “The burning of Sacramento occurred during the delivery of the lectures.” Topics included arrival in San Francisco, visit to Stockton, Sacramento, election day, Sacramento burned, mining towns, Yankee Jim’s, the origin of gold, and a journey to Grass Valley. Each chapter concluded with a moral. The wood engravings are the first set of illustrations by Charles Christian Nahl for a full-length book.
Charles Nahl (1818-78), the “Cruikshank of California,” joined the Gold Rush in 1850 and became one of the first resident California artists of significance. His work vividly captures the disappointments and triumphs of mining and pioneering life, blending realism, pathos, and humor. Hamilton, Early American Book Illustrators and Wood Engravers, pp. 190-92. ($150-300)
1850 Imaginary overland in Pictorial Wrappers
9. BESCHKE, William. The Dreadful Sufferings and Thrilling Adventures of an Overland Party of Emigrants to California, Their Terrible Conflicts with Savage Tribes of Indians!! And Mexican Bands of Robbers!!! With Marriage, Funeral, and Other Interesting Ceremonies and Customs of Indian Life in the Far West. Compiled from the Journal of Mr. George Adam, One of the Adventurers, by Prof. Wm. Beschke. St. Louis: Published by Barclay & Co., 1850. [iii]-60 pp., 3 woodcut plates and 2 full-page text illustrations:  “War Dance” of the “Mandan” Indians;  Funeral Ceremony of the Sioux Indians, Who Place Their Dead on the Tops of Trees (repeated on lower wrapper);  untitled view of two Native Americans in combat with dialogue below commencing “A sudden furious yell”;  “Council Dance” of “Sac” and “Fox” Indians;  untitled confrontation scene with dialogue below commencing “Where is your husband?” 8vo, original pink printed wrappers, cover title within ornamental border, lower wrapper with woodcut (Funeral Ceremony of the Sioux Indians, Who Place Their Dead on the Tops of Trees), original stitching. Wrappers lightly age toned and some minor spotting, minor splits to spine and missing a very small piece at foot, scattered inconsequential foxing to text (except last page where the foxing is heavier), small type defect on p. 18, but overall a very fine copy of a rare survival, particularly in the seldom-seen wrappers. Preserved in a half burgundy morocco and maroon cloth slipcase, matching cloth chemise.
First edition? AII, Missouri 535 (citing the 60 pp. edition, like the present copy). Cf. Cowan I, p. 17 (72 pp.): “The contents of this work and the illustrations are of a highly lurid character.” Cf. Cowan II, p. 51 (72 pp.). Graff 11 (60 pp., lacking lower wrapper): “There were also 70- and 72-page editions with the same imprint. While priority has not been determined, the 60-page edition seems to be earlier and is certainly less frequently found.” Holliday 86 (60 pp.). Howes B396 (rated “b”; priority undetermined): “Romantic improbabilities.” Jones, Adventures in Americana 253 (60 pp.). Littell 60 (60 pp.). Midland 59:53 & 70:51 (72 pp.; tortuous notes on priority of editions); 91:37 (60 pp.). Mintz, The Trail 518. Plains & Rockies IV:179:1 (60-pages). Streeter Sale 3056 (60 pp.). Wright I:308 (60 pp.). No one has ever satisfactorily solved the dilemma of the priority of the first three editions of this work; this question begs for additional research.
William Beschke’s imaginary overland is about a genial group of young French adventurers disillusioned with life in France who emigrate to America. After arrival in New Orleans, they form an emigration party styled the “California Phalanx” and travel by boat to St. Louis, where in a quest for speed they discard traditional wagons in favor of mules for both riding and packing. They pass through Fort Leavenworth and Fort Laramie. Information of a popular sort is provided on the Cheyenne, Sioux, Pawnee, Comanche, Apache, and other tribes’ warfare, customs, and captivities. Much of the story unfolds in the New Mexico-Colorado area (Pueblo, Bent’s Fort, Santa Fe Trail environs). The party is robbed by Comanche in the Santa Fe area, leading to a wild fracas in which a hundred Comanche are killed and the Frenchman, of course, are triumphant. They arrive at the Platte by Christmas, where they winter. There the story ends, as if awaiting a sequel that apparently never materialized.
Prior to 1850 there are only a few of works of fiction set in the Far West and California (discounting, of course, the 1510 tale of chivalry, Las Sergas de Esplandián, which is related to Baja California). The handful of early separately published tales relating to California include George W. Peck’s Aurifodina; or, Adventures in the Gold Region (q.v.), the anonymous Amelia Sherwood; or, Bloody Scenes at the California Gold Mines, Charles Averill’s Kit Carson, the Prince of the Gold Hunters, and its sequel Life in California. Though no action takes place in California or the Gold Fields, Beschke’s vividly penned thriller is firmly grounded in the genre of California of the Imagination. The work is certainly an early setting for fiction for the New Mexico-Colorado area, Mayne Reid’s White Chief (1855) usually being cited as the first New Mexico novel, if one wishes to exclude imaginary travels to Quivira and Cibolo in earlier centuries. In this little rarity there is much untilled ground for exploring attitudes and stereotypes, including women, Native Americans, and Mexican-Americans.
Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 52a.
Beschke serves as another example of fiction made to look like fact. The story details the expedition of the “California Phalanx,” a group of young men mainly from France, as they journeyed from New Orleans to California via the Southern Route. The journey began in October 1849 and ends with George Adam promising to keep a journal of his California experiences if the “Phalanx” ever enjoyed the good fortune of making it to the golden land.
Beschke is best remembered for his participation in the development of the ironclad Monitor in the Civil War. See Memorial to the Congress, Government, and People of the United States, Concerning Several Great Inventions of National Importance, and the Infringements of a U.S. Patent in Building Iron-Clad Vessels and Iron Turrets, Most Respectfully Submitted by William Beschke...in January 1865 (Philadelphia, n.d.).
Most of the crude plates are unattributed, but one is the work of William B. Gihon, whose work is listed in several entries by Hamilton, Early American Book Illustrators and Wood Engravers (pp. 84, 99, 103, 104, 106, 108, 122, 204, 205, 208, 220). Gihon partnered with Reuben S. Gilbert in Philadelphia between 1846 and into the 1850s, specializing in engravings for the book trade. ($15,000-25,000)
The Finest Narrative by One Who Had Seen the Elephant—Kurutz
10. BORTHWICK, J[ohn] D[avid]. Three Years in California by J. D. Borthwick with Eight Illustrations by the Author. Edinburgh & London: William Blackwood & Sons, 1857. [vi], , 384 pp., 8 lithograph plates on tinted grounds (from drawings by author). 8vo, later three-quarter dark red sheep over red cloth, spine decorated and lettered in gilt, raised bands, t.e.g. (binding by Putnam Book Store). Spine chafed at head, upper joint cracked but holding, front joint cracked between frontispiece and title, frontispiece professional reattached, otherwise very fine and fresh, the plates very fine. From John Howell-Books, with goldenrod label on back free endpaper and with pencil price of $35 and pencil note “fine.”
Below each illustration: J. D. Borthwick, Delt., M. & N. Hanhart Lith. [Frontispiece]: Our Camp on Weaver Creek.
Monte in the Mines. Faro.
A “Flume” on the Yuba River.
Chinese Camp in the Mines. Bull & Bear Fight. A Ball in the Mines. Shaw’s Flats. First edition. Braislin 194. Byrd 67. Cowan I, p. 22. Cowan II, p. 64. Graff 358. Gudde, California Gold Camps, p. 386. Hill II:156. Holliday 107. Howell California 50:313. Howes B622. Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 8. Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 65a. LC, California Centennial 202. Norris 371. Peters, California on Stone, pp. 59-60, 127n. Rocq 15706. Samuels, Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West, pp. 58-59: “Borthwick exhibited genre paintings in London from 1860 to 1870, including the R[oyal] A[cademy] in 1863 and 1865. Some of these paintings may have been of California. He was the first British artist-correspondent to report the West for a British newspaper.” Streeter Sale 2817. Van Nostrand, The First Hundred Years of Painting in California, pp. 28, 33-34, 88. Van Nostrand & Coulter, California Pictorial, pp. 102-21 (reproducing the plate of “Our Camp on Weaver Creek”). Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 21: “Outstanding account of mining life, with the best illustrations the period produced.” Zamorano 80 #8 (Robert J. Woods): “Horace Kephart writes in the introduction to the 1917 edition: ‘Many narratives have been published by men who participated in the stirring events of early California. From among them I have chosen, after long research, one written by a British artist, Mr. J. D. Borthwick, and issued in Edinburgh in 1857. The original book is now rare and sought for by collectors of western Americana.’”
Gary Kurutz in Volkmann Zamorano 80 catalogue:
J. D. Borthwick’s Three Years in California roars with excitement, and for this reason, his book has universally been proclaimed as one of the most important accounts of the Gold Rush. A gold seeker blessed with remarkable reporting ability, Borthwick wrote with a dynamism and sense of adventure that captured as well as humanly possible the essence of that rough-and-tumble era. Gold Rush historian Erwin G. Gudde calls it: “One of the best, if not the best book of the period.” Collector T. W. Streeter states: “I do not know of another story by an actual miner that is so well written and so true to that wonderful life in the Days of Gold.” In short, this is the finest narrative by one who had seen the elephant.
Borthwick, a Scotsman visiting New York, reported that the gold fever first seized him in May 1850 (his book incorrectly states the year as 1851). In search of gold, he traveled to California the quickest way possible, via the Isthmus of Panama, and arrived in San Francisco. In this pulsing city, Borthwick observed: “People lived more there in a week than they would in a year in most other places.” After the rainy season ended, the author headed for the mines. Like many others, he soon found grubbing for gold less than thrilling and discovered that fellow miners clamored for his sketches of the diggings. Turning to his god-given talents, he wrote: “I was satisfied that I could make paper and pencil more profitable tools than with pick and shovel. My new pursuit had the additional attraction of affording me an opportunity of gratifying the desire which I had long felt of wandering over the mines, and seeing all the various kinds of diggings and the strange specimens of human nature to be found in them.” In this pursuit, Borthwick succeeded better than anyone.