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Item 40. Bret Harte’s The Luck of Roaring Camp—“Bret Harte’s greatest
book [and] one of the cornerstones of California literature” (Howell).
40. HARTE, [Francis] Bret[t] (1836-1902). The Luck of Roaring Camp, and Other Sketches. Boston:
Fields, Osgood & Co., 1870. iv  239 pp. 12mo, original plum blindstamped
cloth, gilt-lettered spine with publisher’s device. Spine a trifle sunned,
minor wear to spine tips, generally a near fine copy. Old small discreet
India ink ownership stamps of J. E. Snyder of Troy, New
York, on verso of front free endpaper and recto of lower endpaper; contemporary
ink ownership inscription of Mrs. George W. Davies of New Brunswick.
With the book is W. C. Van Antwerp’s typed letter signed, dated March
15, 1937, to Beatrice Simpson Volkmann discussing bibliographical matters
relating to Bret Harte and a preliminary typed catalogue of first editions
40A. HARTE, [Francis] Bret[t] . The
Luck of Roaring Camp, and Other Sketches. Boston: Fields, Osgood &
Co., 1870. iv  256 pp. 12mo, original plum blindstamped
cloth, gilt-lettered spine with publisher’s device. Spine a bit light
and tips slightly worn, generally very fine and fresh. With author’s original
autograph letter relating to publication of this book, signed and written
in purple ink on stationery of The Overland Monthly with engraved
illustration of bear, to Fields, Osgood & Co.: “...I shall endeavor
to send copy for the projected book by Decem. 1st....I am quite
satisfied with the terms you have already indicated. I propose to call
the volume ‘Roaring Camp and Other Camps; being Sketches of California
Life and Character.’”
|40B. HARTE, [Francis]
Bret[t] . The Luck of Roaring Camp: A Story by Bret Harte....
San Francisco: [Grabhorn Press for] Ransohoff, 1948.  16  pp.,
4 large illustrations including divisional title in gold, colored by
Mallette Dean. Folio, original maroon cloth over maroon boards lettered
and decorated on front cover, paper spine label printed in gold. Binding
slightly faded, otherwise very fine.
Limited edition (300 copies), introduction by Oscar Lewis. Grabhorn (1940-1956) #469. ($75-150)
Bret Harte, with the publication of The Luck of Roaring Camp,
created the popular perception of the California Gold Rush.
His stories of rambunctious yet gentle forty-niners, slick gamblers, stagecoach
drivers, and naughty ladies made the “Days of old, days of gold, the
days of ’49” come alive for reading audiences for generations. Gary Scharnhorst,
Harte’s most current biographer, in assessing his powerful influence
wrote: “More than any other writer, Bret Harte was at the forefront of
western American literature, paving the way for writers such as Mark
Twain, Joaquin Miller, Ina Coolbrith, Prentice Mulford, and Charles Warren
Stoddard.” California historian Andrew Rolle, in describing the impact
of Harte’s short stories wrote, “He did for the miner what Owen Wister
later did for the cowboy.”
——Gary F. Kurutz
Additional sources consulted: Walter Van Tilburg Clark, Foreword to Bret Harte: Stories of the Early West (New York: Platt & Munk, 1964); Lawrence Clark Powell, California Classics (Los Angeles: The Ward Ritchie Press, 1971), pp. 77-91; Andrew Rolle, California: A History (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1969), p. 270; Gary Scharnhorst, Introduction to The Luck of Roaring Camp and Other Writings (New York: Penguin Classics, 2001); Franklin Walker, San Francisco’s Literary Frontier, pp. 262-68.
Item 40A. Bret Harte’s autograph letter to his publisher, relating to publication of this book, signed and written in purple ink on stationery of The Overland Monthly with engraved illustration of bear.