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Auction 15: Fine Collection of Californiana Formed by Daniel G. Volkmann Jr.
First Sea Journal of the Argonauts of ’49
Printed Aboard Ship
UNION MINING & TRADING COMPANY. Journal of the Hartford
Union Mining and Trading Company, Containing the Name, Residence and
Occupation of Each Member, with Incidences [sic] of the Voyage,
&c. &c. Printed by J. L. Hall, on Board the Henry Lee,
1849. 32 pp. 12mo, original stitching. Title page lightly foxed, second
leaf stained at right side, scattered light foxing. Pencil presentation
from Hall: “Presented to E. A. Upton by Mr. Hall in Rio de Janeiro–April
1849.” Preserved in a half red morocco case with red cloth chemise.
Exceedingly rare–only known copy of this 32-page issue. In view of the
inscription, these 32 pages may be considered complete in themselves,
since this was all of the Journal that had been printed to the
time of presentation.
First edition, first issue of the account usually considered the first, and best, printed narrative of an expedition by sea to the gold regions. A remarkable survival. Howell, Americana 222 (this copy). Howell, Anniversary Catalogue 51 (the 88-page second issue). Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 305a. Cf. Libros Californianos, p. 23 (Cowan list). Randall 8:230 (this copy). Vail, Gold Fever, pp. 25-27 (this copy). See next entry for citations to another issue of the text. Some controversy has surrounded the actual authorship of this work. Although often attributed to the printer, Vail cites an article in the June 2, 1849, Supplement to the [Hartford] Courant, that seems to imply strongly that the journal was kept by Hartford lawyer and company member George G. Webster. Vail concludes: “It seems probable that the printed account was based on Webster’s day-by-day Journal with additions by the printer, the Captain and others” (p. 26). It is this 32-page issue that was sent back to Connecticut for publication.
Hall, a printer by trade, produced this work on a jury-rigged press working with types he had brought with him. At various places in the text he discusses the great difficulty of trying to produce any type of printing on a ship rocking and tossing in the ocean. Occasionally, his work was even spoiled as the swaying of the ship threw all his type on the floor. He was assisted by other printers who were also on the voyage. As demonstrated by the date and place of the presentation, it seems likely that these 32 pages were all the work that had been printed up until the presentation date, and, therefore, this is the earliest obtainable version of this famous Gold Rush work. The ship reached Rio de Janeiro the last day of April 1849, and the copy must have been presented to Upton that day. The last date in the text is April 17, 1849 (p. 32). Vail speculates the person to whom it was presented was fellow printer Eugene Allen Upton, who went on to become a resident of San Francisco. After the ship left Rio, Hall continued to print more leaves as the ship rounded South America and made its way up the coast to California. When the entire work was done, it had 88 pages and the misspelled word on the title page here. That is the complete issue sold by Howell (cited above).
103. HARTFORD UNION MINING & TRADING COMPANY. Journal of the Hartford Union Mining and Trading Company. Containing the Name, Residence and Occupation of Each Member, with Incidents of the Voyage, &c. &c. Printed by J. L. Hall on Board the Henry Lee [and San Francisco harbor], 1849. 88 pp. (pp. 9-20 in facsimile but with pp. 41-44 in duplicate). 8vo, disbound sheets, original stitching absent. Lightly soiled throughout, some edges strengthened, light stain in upper blank margin of last few leaves, and with small, repaired hole in upper blank margin of last leaf. With printed bookplate of Mary C. Young and Mary Young Moore on chemise. Preserved in a half red calf case with cloth chemise. Ultra rare–only a handful of copies of the 88-page issues have survived.
First edition, third issue of complete text (with corrected title page and the last few pages set in San Francisco harbor). Cowan I, p. 102. Cowan II, p. 259. Eberstadt 115:210. Fahey 124. Greenwood 131. Howell, Americana 223 (this copy). Howell, Anniversary Catalogue 52 (this copy). Howes W202 (attributing authorship to George G. Webster): “First printed narrative of a California gold-seeker and the best record of an Argonaut expedition by sea.” Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 305a. Libros Californianos, p. 23 (Cowan list). Matthews, p. 317. Rocq 15846. Streeter Sale 2571. Vail, Gold Fever, pp. 25-27. Wagner, California Imprints 84. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 88. Despite Greenwood’s assertion, based on a report in the September 8, 1849, Pacific News that there was an edition of 84 pp., which the paper said it received, this is probably an error on the part of the newspaper. It makes no sense that Hall would have sent a partial or defective copy to the paper, and p. 84 ends in midsentence in all known versions. John Goodman (Book Club of California, California Printing...1838-1890 I:5) states that Henry R. Wagner was puzzled how the newspaper obtained its copy of the journal on the 8th when the ship did not arrive until the 13th.
Here the first several leaves have been reset and the text thereon somewhat rewritten from its appearance in the first issue, which resetting it is reasonable to believe was done in San Francisco harbor. We believe Howell to be correct in his doubts “that this was the copy used by Hall for his 1898 edition.” Although someone has made what appear to be numerous emendations to the text, they do not appear authorial and were not followed in the 1898 edition. What appears to have happened is that someone took the 1898 edition (see next entry) and made some notations on this copy about passages that had been changed. But there is no mention here, for example, of the substantial rewriting on pp. 83-84 in the reprint (cf. pp. 44-45 in original).
John B. Goodman, in Book Club of California, California Printing...1838-1890 I:5, wrote of this work:
"This is the first sea journal of the ’49 California Argonauts to be published, and fittingly was largely printed during the long voyage round the stormy Cape Horn from New York to San Francisco, February 17-September 13, 1849; aboard the ship Henry Lee, a converted ‘blubber hunter’ impregnated with the pungent aroma of whales caught off the Pribilof Islands, the Gulf of Anadyr, or the Sea of Okhotsk, and ‘of great antiquity, with rotten bottom, [and] a miserable sailer.’ This pamphlet was born in one of the dungeon-like cabins in the bowels of the ship from a primitive home-made press and a handful of type by its author-printer. Today it is one of the keystones, and among the rarest, of all western books. Despite its humble appearance, just to handle this hallowed journal and scan its pages is a riveting experience."
As with so many other such adventures, the Company had only mixed success. The ship was laden with trade goods to sustain the Company by sales in case gold mining was not successful. Just over ten members of the Company died within the first year, and about twenty-five went back home. As many others who came after him and as became the prevailing opinion eventually, Hall decided that the true wealth of California lay elsewhere outside the gold regions. His company, well organized and well financed, unfortunately fell apart due to internal bickering shortly after its arrival and the members went their separate ways. Hall himself, after attempting various occupations, also returned home in May of 1851 and became a minister.
104. HARTFORD UNION MINING & TRADING COMPANY. Around the Horn in ’49. Journal of the Hartford Union Mining and Trading Company. Printed by L. J. Hall on Board the Henry Lee. 1849. [Wethersfield: Linville J. Hall, 1898].  [x] 252 pp., frontispiece portrait, 25 halftone plates and line illustrations (scenes, portraits). 8vo, original maroon cloth, gilt vignette of ship on upper cover. Spine slightly worn at extremities and along joints, corners slightly bumped, otherwise fine. Ink presentation from author to his cousin Charlotte McKee, Springfield, Mass., October 3, 1900, on front pastedown.
Second edition, with the added 96-page appendix containing Linville J. Hall’s California mining experiences between 1849 and 1851 (the exceedingly rare first edition was printed in 1849 aboard ship en route to California), first illustrated edition. Cowan I, pp. 102-103. Cowan II, p. 259. Hill 760. Howell 50, California 110A. Howes W202. Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 305b. Norris 1456. Rocq 15847. Streeter Sale 3025. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 88n. Here Hall has edited the original journal somewhat and added an appendix recounting his life in the goldfields and in San Francisco before he left California in May 1851, never to return. “This appendix provides one of the best recollections of life in the mines” (Kurutz). In the present edition, the author’s name is listed as L. J., because he changed his name from John Linville Hall to Linville J. Hall.