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

Lots 57 & 57A

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Item 57. Newmark’s Sixty Years in Southern California—“This Pepys Diary of California offers evidence of days often made disheartening by violence, epidemic, and drought. One gets a vivid picture of two civilizations—the old, threadbare, and shabby; the young thrashing about in its struggles to take form” (Walker).

57. NEWMARK, Harris (1834-1916). Sixty Years in Southern California 1853-1913. Containing the Reminiscences of Harris Newmark, Edited by Maurice H. Newmark and Marco R. Newmark.... New York: Knickerbocker Press, 1916. xxviii [2] 688 pp., frontispiece portrait from an engraving, numerous plates (from vintage photographs and prints), map. 8vo, original maroon cloth, spine gilt-lettered, t.e.g. Spine slightly faded, light shelf wear, front hinge cracked, a few traces of foxing, generally very good, with bookplate of Elenore Meherin and John D. Van Becker. Pencil notes of Warren R. Howell at back (“First Edition Zamorano 80 No. 57”).
First edition. Adams, Guns 1605; Herd 1638. Cowan II, p. 454. Graff 2016. Holliday 812. Howell 50, California 669. Howes N123. Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 57. Libros Californianos, pp. 49-50 (Powell commentary); p. 68 (Hanna list): “Commonly referred to as ‘the Pepys diary of Los Angeles’ because of its multitude of intimate references to men and events over six decades.” Norris 2844. Powell, Land of Fact 20: “Los Angeles’ most basic book—a veritable omnium-gatherum of history, biography, and anecdote.” Rocq 3221. Walker, A Literary History of Southern California, pp. 61-62: “This Pepys Diary of California offers evidence of days often made disheartening by violence, epidemic, and drought. To the sensitive Jewish boy from West Prussia who abandoned his brandy for an umbrella in crossing the Isthmus of Panama in 1853, the City of Angels was a place demanding rapid readjustment on his part.... One gets a vivid picture of two civilizations—the old, threadbare, and shabby; the young thrashing about in its struggles to take form.” Zamorano 80 #57 (J. Gregg Layne): “This work is indispensable to the student of California history for no other work contains so much detailed history of one part of California. It is a mine of information historically and biographically regarding the Los Angeles district from 1853 up to the year of Harris Newmark’s death. Newmark was a pioneer of 1853 and an outstanding merchant and member of the community for over half a century.... The book’s sale, due to its intense interest, was phenomenal considering its local subject matter.” ($100-300)


57A. NEWMARK, Harris. Sixty Years in Southern California 1853-1913.... Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Company; Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1930. xxxv [1] 744 pp., frontispiece portrait, numerous plates. 8vo, original red cloth, gilt-lettered spine, t.e.g. Spine a bit light, else very fine, mostly unopened.
Third and best edition, greatly enlarged. Howes N123. Norris 2845. Rocq 3223. Zamorano 80 #57 (J. Gregg Layne): “All three editions have a wealth of illustrations and many scarce portraits of early pioneers.” Charles F. Lummis wrote the foreword. ($40-80)


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Newmark’s book has won praise as one of the most important sources of information concerning the development of Los Angeles and its environs in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Charles Lummis, that colorful and flamboyant interpreter of California and the Southwest, called Newmark’s encyclopedic memoir “the Pepys Diary of Los Angeles.” Densely packed with facts and anecdotes, the charm of this massive volume is its frankness, simplicity, and humor. In the introduction to the fourth edition, community historian W. W. Robinson wrote, “It is a very personal and unique account of a dusty, muddy, adobe village emerging from pueblo days and of young city rising in strength.”
While the title features sixty years, this recollection is primarily devoted to the first three decades of Newmark’s residence in the City of Angels. The opening chapters can be likened to a Wild West novel. When his stage roared into town in 1853, his Prussian jaw must have dropped upon seeing a gang of drunken field hands wandering about on the Sabbath. He then proceeded to note the abundance of saloons and gambling houses and their fascinating customers. He remarked, “Human life at this period was about the cheapest thing in Los Angeles, and killings were frequent.” Conditions, as Newmark chronicled, eventually calmed down as solid institutions and citizens took hold. His memoir proceeded to cover seemingly every major event and personality including horse races, amusements of all kinds, duels, sheriffs, entrepreneurs, railroads, marriages, Civil War, the infamous Chinese massacre, capture of Tiburcio Vásquez, boom of the 1880s, and the state division controversy. Newmark himself emerges as a prosperous businessman, real estate mogul, and civic leader.
Newmark, after some prodding from local historian and promoter Charles Dwight Willard, began putting together this recollection in 1913. His two sons, Maurice and Marco, hammered their father’s notes into a manageable form but then obtained professional help by securing the services of Pasadena scholar and historian Dr. Perry Worden. Three years later, after painstaking fact checking and plowing though old newspapers, Dr. Worden had molded the pioneer’s thoughts into a coherent and highly readable book. Upon publication, Sixty Years in Southern California generated such intense interest that the first edition of 1,000 copies quickly sold out. In response, a second edition with additional material came out in 1926, and four years later a third edition of 2,000 copies rolled off the presses. In 1970, the doyen of Los Angeles booksellers, Jake Zeitlin, produced a revised edition of 1,250 copies under the imprint of Zeitlin & Ver Brugge. As all these editions attest, any city would be most fortunate to have such a personalized, straightforward memoir of its past.

——Gary F. Kurutz

Additional sources consulted: Biographical Files, California State Library; Sixty Years in Southern California, 1853-1913 (Los Angeles: Zeitlin & Ver Brugge, 1970); Franklin Walker, A Literary History of Southern California (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1950), pp. 61-63.



Item 57. Vintage photo of Los Angeles in the late 1850s.


Item 57. One of many excellent documentary photos from Newmark’s Sixty Years in Southern California—“Los Angeles’ most basic book—a veritable omnium-gatherum of history, biography, and anecdote” (Powell).


Item 57. Vintage photos of San Pedro Street and Commercial Streets in Los Angeles.


Item 57. Photograph of Spring Street in Los Angeles, from Newmark’s Sixty Years in Southern California.


Item 57. Vintage photos of Temple Street and Pico House in Los Angeles, from Newmark’s Sixty Years in Southern California.


Item 57. Harris Newmark (1834-1916).



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