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Item 10. Brown’s Reminiscences and Incidents, of “The Early
Days” of San Francisco—“Every search for the true picture of San Francisco’s
beginnings as a city leads finally to John Henry Brown’s ‘Early Days” (Douglas
|10. BROWN, John
H[enry] (1811-1905). Reminiscences and Incidents, of “The Early Days”
of San Francisco.... Actual Experience of an Eye-Witness, from 1845 to
1850. San Francisco: Mission Journal Publishing Co., . 
pp., foldout engraved untitled plan of San Francisco (19.5 x 27 cm; 7-5/8
x 10-5/8 inches). 8vo, original blindstamped gilt-lettered mustard cloth.
A bit of mild staining and light wear to binding, endpapers browned, one
short clean tear to one preliminary leaf, one text leaf with 2.5-cm tear
to blank margin (no loss), small chip to lower pastedown, generally very
good to fine. This copy contains the pencil notes of Warren R. Howell
on rear pastedown (“$300.00 iytxx [cost code], Zamorano 80”).
First edition. Cowan I, p. 26. Cowan II, p. 77. Graff 429. Holliday 136. Howell 50, California 331. Howes B853. Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 10. Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 88a. Mintz, The Trail 60. Rocq 8429. Streeter Sale 2999. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 23. Zamorano 80 #10. ($400-800)
10A. BROWN, John H[enry]. Reminiscences and
Incidents, of the Early Days of San Francisco.... San Francisco:
The Grabhorn Press, 1933.  138  pp., title and text illustrations.
8vo, original natural linen over marbled boards, printed paper labels on
spine and upper cover. Other than light foxing to endpapers, very fine,
with publisher’s announcement (One More Book) laid in.
Douglas Sloane Watson, in the Grabhorn Press edition, praised Brown’s
Reminiscences, writing: “Every search for the true picture
of San Francisco’s beginnings as a city leads finally to John Henry Brown’s
‘Early Days.’” Despite the fact that the colorful author put down these
recollections four decades after the events described, they provided an
invaluable narrative of an incredible, rough-and-tumble era. According
to Bancroft, Brown was one of those men who claimed “to know more than
any other live man” about the early days, and to a large degree, this was
no idle boast. He loaded his narrative with more names per paragraph than
a Bancroft footnote, and it seemed that at one time or another, he encountered
just about every famous personality in California during the years 1845-1850.
With the discovery of gold, he took over running the City
Hotel, and with the money he made helped build the popular Parker House.
At the helm of these two establishments, Brown stood at the center of a
wild, rip-roaring town now called San Francisco. Consequently, his reminiscences
are among the best and most compelling pictures of the port city during
those golden years of 1848-1849. As with so many other establishments,
that scourge of San Francisco, fire, destroyed the Parker House in December
1849. In addition to his own business interests, Brown told of the comings
and goings of leading personalities ranging from Sam Brannan to William
Leidesdorff, development of all kinds of businesses, and major events including
the arrival of women. To his book, Brown added a map of town lots in San
Francisco supported with a narrative text.
——Gary F. Kurutz