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Auction 12: The Zamorano 80 Collection of Daniel G. Volkmann Jr.

Lots 4 & 4A

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Item 4. The preferred quarto edition of Beechey’s Narrative—“Beechey was the commander of the first foreign expedition to visit California after the formation of the Mexican Republic, and thus his observations, notable for their lack of political and social commentary, are most valuable” (Mathes).


4. BEECHEY, F[rederick] W[illiam] (1798-1856). Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific and Beering’s Strait, to Co-Operate with the Polar Expeditions: Performed in His Majesty’s Ship Blossom, under the Command of Captain F. W. Beechey...in the Years 1825, 26, 27, 28.... London: Henry Colburn & Richard Bentley, 1831. xxi [1, errata] [2, directions to binder] 392 + vii [1, directions to binder] [393]-742 pp., 3 copper-engraved maps, including 2 large folding maps: Chart Shewing the Track of H.M.S. Blossom and the Situation of Her Discoveries in 1825-26-27-28 (36.5 x 48 cm; 14-3/8 x 18-7/8 inches); and Chart of Part of the Northwest Coast America from Point Rodney to Point Barrow by Captain F. W. Beechey (44.6 x 33 cm; 17-5/8 x 13 inches), 23 plates (19 engraved, 4 lithographic), errata slip bound in before page v of second volume, without publisher’s one-leaf ad at end of vol. 2 (not mentioned by most bibliographers). 2 vols., 4to, contemporary smooth tan calf (neatly rebacked in sympathetic tan morocco, original gilt-lettered green calf spine labels preserved), spines with raised bands, marbled endpapers. Binding shelf-worn and with some abrasions (a few separations of calf at edges), corners bumped, intermittent mild to heavy foxing, offsetting, and staining. Two armorial bookplates (foxed): Thomas Philip, Earl de Grey, Wrest Park, and William M. Fitzhugh Jr. Small navy blue printed book label of San Francisco bookseller Newbegin’s on rear pastedowns. Old typewritten note, probably from Newbegin’s, laid in: “An additional indication of early issue is that this copy probably was issued before the half-page supplementary errata slip was tipped in.”
First edition, the preferred quarto edition, with scientific appendix that did not appear in the subsequent octavo edition of the same year; engraved plates dated 1830. The Zamorano 80 bibliography does not mention the present edition. Cowan I, pp. 14-15. Cowan II, p. 42n. Ferguson, Australia 1418. Forbes, Hawaiian National Bibliography 1196. Hill, p. 19 (also describing a one-vol. quarto issue of 1831 with all prelims at beginning). Holliday 60. Howell 50, California 16: “Beechey’s account includes details on the Bounty mutiny taken from the narrative of John Adams, the last surviving mutineer on Pitcairn Island.... Beechey’s party was commissioned to rendezvous with Captain Franklin, who was proceeding westward along the northern coast of Canada in an attempt to find the Northwest Passage. The two groups came within 150 miles of one another, almost completing the survey of the coastline.” Howes B309. Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 4. Lada-Mocarski 95: “In the same year, 1831, there appeared an octavo edition, with the same imprint. The...quarto edition is much to be preferred, as the octavo edition does not contain all the scientific papers.... Furthermore, the plates, which are dated 1831 (as against the quarto edition), are not uniformly of the same high quality.... Much of importance on Alaska.” Norris 242 (8vo edition). Sabin 4347. Streeter Sale 3517. Van Nostrand & Coulter, California Pictorial, pp. 22-27n. Zamorano 80 #4 (Robert J. Woods): “[Beechey] gives a description of San Francisco harbor and tells of the sad state of affairs of both mission and presidio. He claimed that the soldiers and clergy were dissatisfied with conditions in California (the pay of the garrison was many years in arrears). He described the treatment of mission Indians and the hunting of the wild ones, the latter’s mode of life as taken from the journals of Spanish officers.” The excellent plates are after the original artwork of Richard Brydges Beechey and William Smyth. “The art works of Captain Beechey’s two artists are the first [California] expeditionary paintings to possess aesthetic as well as documentary value” (Van Nostrand, The First Hundred Years of Painting in California, p. 10).
It was during this expedition that Beechey created early and most influential charts of the harbor of San Francisco. Harlow (Maps of San Francisco Bay 19) discusses and illustrates Beechey’s original manuscript map: “Beechey had been instructed before undertaking the expedition to make careful surveys in the Pacific where such had not been previously completed, and his men were constantly engaged in this business at San Francisco during the 1826 visit. Under Beechey’s direction they examined in two months’ time the portions of the harbor which he felt were most likely to be frequented by vessels for years to come.... Following the publication of the Beechey chart in 1833, it became the authoritative guide to the bay and remained so until well into the American period.... It became the source of a long line of copies and adaptations.” Beechey’s chart does not appear in the present work (although information on its creation is found in the book). Beechey’s manuscript map was copied and published (in whole or part) by the British Hydrographical Office (Chart No. 591, 1833; Harlow 20, 21), Richardson (The Geology of Beechey’s Voyage, 1839; Harlow 22), Forbes (q.v.; Harlow 23), Duflot de Mofras (q.v.; Harlow 28, 29), Wilkes (1858; Harlow 24, 25), Tebien’kov (Atlas, 1852), an unidentified Russian atlas in the Bancroft Library (probably issued before 1853), Ringgold (A Series of Charts and Sailing Directions, 1851), Imray (Chart of the Coast of California, 1851), British Hydrographical Office (1851, a reprint of the 1833 issue with additions). Harlow comments: “The Beechey influence upon San Francisco Bay charts persisted for many years.” (2 vols.) ($3,000-6,000)


4A. BEECHEY, F[rederick] W[illiam]. An Account of a Visit to California 1826-’27: Reprinted from a Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific and Beering’s Strait Performed in His Majesty’s Ship Blossom.... [San Francisco: Printed at the Grabhorn Press for the Book Club of California, 1941]. [12] 74 [9] pp., decorated title, text ornamentation, 4 colored plates (from Smyth’s original watercolor drawings), map. Small folio, original vellum over red cloth. Some mild staining to binding, otherwise very fine, with original prospectus laid in.
Limited edition (350 copies), with introduction by Edith M Coulter and additional previously unpublished text, plus the reproductions of Smyth’s wonderful watercolors (only one of which was used in the original edition) and Beechey’s previously unpublished map of San Francisco Bay. Grabhorn (1940-1956) #354. ($100-300)

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Mexican independence in 1821 and establishment of the Mexican Republic in 1824 found the new state devastated from a decade of warfare and economic neglect, and separated from the benefits of colonial commerce and communication. The withdrawal of Spain from the Pacific Coast had left the Naval Department of San Blas without officers and ships, and thereby, maritime supply and communication to the Californias ceased. To rebuild, Mexico looked to European powers, particularly England and France, for loans, and these were forthcoming, but at a high price. To encourage economic investment and aid, Mexico opened the country to the free entry of foreigners for the first time since 1521.
England, not only interested in economic benefits in Mexico, continued in the search for a water passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and with all possibilities in somewhat temperate areas eliminated by the explorations of George Vancouver in 1792, renewed exploration for a Northwest Passage in the high Arctic. In 1818 Trent, under Lieutenant John Franklin, explored westward from Hudson Bay, and in the following year Hecla, under Lieutenant W. E. Parry, returned to the area, while Franklin explored the coast east of the Coppermine River by land. This exploration was expanded in 1825-1827, with Franklin pushing into Alaska where he was to meet with a maritime contingency at Kotzebue Sound. Under the command of Frederick William Beechey, who had served in the War of 1812 and on Trent and Hecla, Blossom sailed from Spithead in May, called at Tenerife, Brazil, Chile, and Hawaii, reaching Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula in June, 1826.
Beechey initiated exploration in July, reaching Kotzebue Sound and surveying into the Arctic Ocean to Point Barrow. In September, he returned southward, on November 6 anchoring in San Francisco where he was well-received by commandant Ignacio Martínez and Fray Tomás Esténega. A party was sent overland to Monterey to obtain supplies, San Francisco Bay was surveyed, and excursions were made to Santa Clara, San José, San Juan Bautista, Santa Cruz, and San Carlos Borromeo missions, during which geographical, botanical, zoological, and ethnographic observations were recorded. On December 28, Beechey sailed for Monterey; there he was supplied by the English factor William E. P. Hartnell, and on January 5, 1827, he departed for Hawaii for further provisions. Continuing to Okinawa in May, Beechey, after making extensive observations, returned to Kamchatka in July by way of the China coast. Returning to Bering Strait, Beechey again failed to contact Franklin, who had returned eastward from Point Beechey in August 1826 and reached England in September 1827. From Bering Strait, Beechey surveyed southwestward to the Seward Peninsula, thence southward along the coast to Monterey, where he remained from October 29 to December 17. After adding to the information collected on his prior visit, Beechey returned to San Francisco and sailed for San Blas on January 3, 1828. The expedition reached England in October.
Beechey was the commander of the first foreign expedition to visit California after the formation of the Mexican Republic, and thus his observations, notable for their lack of political and social commentary, are most valuable. In addition to his objectivity, his text regarding his sojourn in California is precise and extensive, and particularly important in regard to his observations of the beginnings of mission secularization, expansion of the ranches of Alta California, and the nature of commerce in the region.
Beechey’s Narrative, in addition to its precision, is noted for its fine maps and engraved and lithographic plates, all demonstrating advances in the graphic arts of the period. Of particular note is the classic “Californians Throwing the Lasso,” depicting a vaquero roping the horns of an already calf-roped cow, apparently with San Juan Bautista in the background; this image was reproduced on numerous occasions in the nineteenth century. Subsequent English-language editions of Beechey’s narrative were published in Philadelphia (1832), San Francisco (1941), and New York (in facsimile, 1969); a German-language edition appeared in Weimar in 1832. Abstracts of botanical, zoological, and ethnographic sections in English appeared in London in 1839 and 1841; New York in 1965; and Oxford in 1977.

——W. Michael Mathes


Item 4. Map showing the route of Beechey’s voyage.


Item 4. Richard Smyth’s celebrated and oft-reprinted image of “Californians Throwing the Lasso”—”The art works of Captain Beechey’s two artists are the first [California] expeditionary paintings to possess aesthetic as well as documentary value” (Jeanne Van Nostrand).



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