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79. WIERZBICKI, F[elix] P[aul] (1815-1860). California As It Is, and As It May Be; or, A Guide to
the Gold Region.... First Edition. San Francisco: Printed by Washington
Bartlett, 1849. -4 [2, inserted leaf “Preface to the Second Edition”]
-60 [1, errata] pp. 8vo, original glazed lilac upper wrapper (as
in the Graff copy), stitched (appears to be resewn). Wrapper worn
(rubbed, a few chips and voids, one tape reinforcement on verso) and
two light stains, very light crease throughout at center, overall
a remarkably clean and fresh copy of an exceptionally fragile
item. An exceedingly rare and important book, and an uncanny survivor
in this condition. The Bancroft duplicate with their small discreet purple
ink stamp on p. 53. The inserted leaf after p. 4 has an old pencil
notation: “extra leaf.” Preserved in a chemise and half blue levant
morocco slipcase (spine faded).
79A. WIERZBICKI, F[elix] P[aul]. California
As It Is and As It May Be; or, A Guide to the Gold Region. San Francisco:
The Grabhorn Press, 1933. xxix  100  [3, bibliography]
pp., pictorial title and text drawings by Valenti Angelo. 8vo, original
black buckram over green boards with illustration by Valenti Angelo.
Very fine in slightly worn d.j. Original prospectus laid in.
Dr. Felix Paul Wierzbicki prefaced his slender book by noting that
he had spent several years in this “land o’cakes” and more than four
months rambling through the gold region. Wierzbicki, in writing this
guide, emphasized straightforward factual reporting rather than creating
a master work of literature. The first part of this celebrated book
is an overall description of California, its history, and its resources.
“California,” he enthused, “holds in its bosom resources that no other
country can boast of comprised in so small a territory—its mineral
wealth, its agricultural capacity, its geographical position, conspire
to make it in time one of the most favored lands.” Predicting a bright
commercial future with its strategic location on the Pacific Rim, he
wrote: “To swell this commercial tide beating against the shores of California
comes the railroad that must inevitably be built across the territory
of the Union, and whose terminus must be on the Bay of San Francisco.”
The Polish doctor then went on to give a general discourse on the mines
and sage advice to miners covering such practical subjects as a miner’s
outfit, the rocker, provisions, mining companies, horses, prospecting
methods, health, winter in the mines, and descriptions of the mining
camps. Thereafter, the physician continued with a description of San
Francisco, lack of women, entrance to San Francisco harbor, and harbor
regulations. California’s waning Hispanic culture attracted his attention
and he presented a fine portrayal of Californio virtues and vices,
horsemanship, dress, and manners and customs. The physician concluded
his book with an analysis of the region’s medical condition focusing
on the negative effects of coffee, tea, and mercury.
——Gary F. Kurutz