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|50. LEONARD, Zenas (1809-1857).
Narrative of the Adventures of Zenas Leonard, a Native of
Clearfield County, Pa. Who Spent Five Years in Trapping for Furs, Trading
with the Indians &c. &c., of the Rocky Mountains: Written
by Himself. Clearfield, Pennsylvania.: D. W. Moore, 1839. iv,
87 pp., printed in double column. 8vo, original rose cloth embossed in floral
pattern. Upper hinge cracked, light spotting to text and small faint
water stain at lower corner throughout (mostly affecting blank margin),
text slightly age-toned, but overall fine (this copy was described
by John Howell–Books in their California Catalogue [50:150], as “one
of the finest copies known” and “the finest copy we have seen”). Contemporary
ink signature on both back endpapers of R. Masson(?) of Clearfield,
Pennsylvania. Preserved in a red cloth chemise and slipcase. The O’Brien–Jennie
Crocker Henderson–Warren R. Howell copy. Jennie Crocker Henderson
purchased this copy in 1922 for $700.00 from the Anderson Galleries
auction of the library of Dr. Frank P. O’Brien (catalogue slip laid
in). Laid in is Wright Howes’s typed letter on his printed stationery,
initialed by him, to Warren R. Howell, dated March 14, 1958, stating
in part: “The mark is the old McClurg cost—it was James Gulick—so
it cost them $43.30. Arthur Halperin says he remembers that Wagner
bought his copy of Leonard for $75.00 from George Chandler when they
were working at McClurgs....” Exceedingly rare and important.
First edition. American Imprints 39:56805. Blumann & Thomas 1902. Cowan I, p. 139 (written in 1914): “Of the original [edition] not more than four or five copies are known to exist.” Cowan II, p. 389. Currey & Kruska, Yosemite 235. Farquhar, Yosemite 1. Graff 2461 (with Mr. Graff’s brief account of how he obtained his copy after fifteen years of negotiations): “A classic of the Rocky Mountain fur trade. It is not only a pleasure to read, but comprises an accurate account of personal experience.” Holliday 653. Howell 50, California 150 (present copy illustrated at p. 99): “The cornerstone to any collection of western travels.” Howes L264: “Completely trustworthy account...the chief first-hand authority.” Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 50. Jones 1025 & vol. 2 (no. 225, illustrating the copy that Jones obtained from Wagner). LC, California Centennial 96. Libros Californianos (Bliss, Cowan & Wagner lists), pp. 17, 21, 25. Plains & Rockies IV:75 (illustrated at p. 128; Becker located eight copies in 1982). Streeter Sale 3141 (illustrated at p. 2147): “Exceedingly rare and important.” Zamorano 80 #50.
We think that Henry R. Wagner’s 1940 letter to Dr. George D. Lyman of San Francisco, telling how he acquired his copy of Leonard’s book is worth reprinting here (from Plains & Rockies IV:75): “About 1908 or 1909 while passing through Chicago I stopped at McClurg’s bookstore to see if they had anything new, as I always stopped there when passing through Chicago. Mr. Chandler was at that time in charge of the Rare Book department. He told me that he had a book in which he thought I might be interested and produced the Zenas Leonard narrative. I had heard of the book on account of the reprint but had never seen the original which I knew was a very scarce book. He said the price was $75, so I put it in my overcoat pocket and went off with it. While chatting with him he said that Walter Douglas, who was at that time manager of the Phelps-Dodge interests in Arizona, had been in shortly before and he had showed him the book. Douglas was not interested. That evening on the Rock Island train to El Paso, while going to the dining car, I happened to see Mr. Douglas, whom I knew quite well.... While talking to him he said that something rather amusing had happened that afternoon. I might say that Douglas was only interested in collecting Mexican Inquisition documents. He said he had visited McClurg and Chandler had shown him a book whose title he did not remember but he said he wanted $75 for it. He then said that about five-thirty he stopped in McClurg’s to pick up a package and Chandler had told him that he had sold the book, and then Douglas said, ‘I wonder what fool paid $75 for that book.’ I allowed that I was the fool and said that it was a very rare book well worth $75, but he would not believe it.” The only thing to add is that the original price for the book in 1839 was 75 cents in cloth binding. ($40,000-80,000)
50A. LEONARD, Zenas. Adventures of Zenas Leonard, Fur Trader and
Trapper 1831-1836, Reprinted from the Rare Original of 1839....
Cleveland: The Burrows Brothers Company, 1904. 317 pp., plates, portraits,
facsimiles, folding map. 8vo, original navy blue cloth, spine gilt-lettered.
Ink ownership inscription of Alexander Thomas Leonard, M.D., San Francisco,
1919. Occasional foxing (mainly confined to text edges and endpapers),
otherwise fine in d.j. (somewhat faded and with upper inside flap detached
Zenas Leonard’s overland account is the rarest and most sought-after
book associated with Yosemite, the sequoias, and the High Sierra. Further,
it documents the first instance of non-Indians to look on that dramatic
geologic chasm known as the Yosemite Valley and the first to encounter
those regal botanical giants, the Sequoia gigantea.
Bibliographer and historian Francis P. Farquhar lists this as entry
number one in his majestic Yosemite, Big Trees, and High Sierra.
In discussing the importance of this title, Farquhar writes:
“Leonard’s narrative is the principal source of information about
the expedition of Joseph Reddeford Walker, in 1833, from Great Salt
Lake to California. Walker’s was the first party to use the Humboldt
River route to California and the first known party of white men to
cross the Sierra Nevada from east to west.” Reliable knowledge of the
High Sierra begins with the Walker party. Leonard’s narrative also has
the distinction of being the second printed account of an overland trip
to California, preceded only by James Ohio Pattie’s Personal Narrative
——Gary F. Kurutz