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Item 70. Soulé, Gihon & Nesbit, The Annals of San
Francisco, profusely illustrated—“Almost anything that one wants to know
of life in San Francisco in the middle of the nineteenth century” (Powell).
|70. SOULÉ, Frank
(1810-1875), John H. Gihon (1811-1875)
& James Nisbet (1816-1865). The Annals of San
Francisco; Containing a Summary of the History of the First Discovery,
Settlement, Progress, and Present Condition of California, and a Complete
History of All the Important Events Connected with Its Great City:
To Which Are Added, Biographical Memoirs of Some Prominent Citizens....
New York, San Francisco & London: D. Appleton & Company, 1855.
824 pp., 2 engraved views, including frontispiece (“Montgomery Street,
San Francisco, north, from California Street. June 1854” and “San Francisco
in 1854 From the Head of Sacramento Street”), 4 engraved portraits
(“Robert F. Stockton”; “Alexina F. Baker”; “Matilda Heron”; and “Col.
John W. Geary Last Alcalde and First Mayor of San Francisco”), 154
engraved text illustrations (by leading artists and engravers of the
day, some based on daguerreotypes by J. M. Ford), and 2 engraved
maps: (1) Map of San Francisco (9.5 x 12.3 cm; 3-3/4 x 4-7/8
inches); (2) General Map Showing the Countries Explored & Surveyed
by the United States & Mexican Boundary Commission in the Years
1850, 51, 52, & 53. Under the Direction of John R. Bartlett U.S. Commissioner
(37 x 47.5 cm, 14-1/4 x 18-3/4 inches). Thick 8vo, original full
black morocco stamped in gilt and blind, spine gilt-lettered and ruled
and with raised bands (skillfully rebacked, original spine preserved,
new endpapers). Offsetting from engraved plates, occasional foxing
(mainly confined to first signature), short clean tear on folding
map at juncture with book block, otherwise fine.
First edition. Barrett, Baja California 2301. Braislin 1707. Cowan I, p. 219. Cowan II, p. 601. Graff 3901. Hamilton, Early American Book Illustrators and Wood Engravers 710 & vol. 1, pp. 71, 149, 158, 182, 200, 213 (contains information on several artists and engravers, including Harrison Eastman). Holliday 1028. Howell 50, California 791. Howes S769. Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 70: “Because the focus is on San Francisco, this has been called (by John B. Goodman III) the first California county history.” Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 594: “Supplies much information on mining and its impact on this instant city.” Libros Californianos, p. 39 (Powell commentary); pp. 64-65 (Hanna list): “Almost anything that one wants to know of life in San Francisco in the middle of the nineteenth century.... The book contains a number of valuable wood engravings and biographies of a group of pioneers—Samuel Brannan, Thomas O. Larkin, John A. Sutter, M. G. Vallejo, Joseph Folsom, et al. Extremely readable, but out of print and growing scarcer as its merits become better known.” Norris 3458. Rocq 7970. Walker, San Francisco’s Literary Frontier, pp. 22-23. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 193; Mapping the Transmississippi West 798n: “Among the most important Western maps.... One very enterprising feature for so early a map is a dotted-line (if unlabeled) showing the Gadsden Purchase boundary.” Zamorano 80 #70. Included with the book is Charles Francis Griffin’s Index to the Annals of San Francisco (San Francisco: California Historical Society, 1935, original boards). (2 vols.) ($250-500)
Noted historian Richard H. Dillon, in the most recent edition of
The Annals of San Francisco, states it is “not only the
best single book ever written on the City, it has proven to be the
most influential book ever set in type to concern itself with San Francisco.”
Considering the number of times that it has been reprinted, it may
be the most popular and consulted book on the City. Written by two
newspapermen, Soulé and Nisbet, and one early settler, Gihon, the
book has a liveliness and readability not found in the usual Victorian-era
nineteenth-century city or county history. The Annals is also
a remarkable testament to the explosive development of San Francisco
and California. Just seven years after the discovery of gold, this
instant city lived enough history to produce an 824-page book about
——Gary F. Kurutz