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Auction 15: Fine Collection of Californiana Formed by Daniel G. Volkmann Jr.

Lot 67: Duflot de Mofras

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“One of the Great Books of the West Coast” (Graff)

67. DUFLOT DE MOFRAS, Eugène. Exploration du territoire de l’Orégon, des Californies et de la mer Vermeille, exécutée pendant les années 1840, 1841 et 1842.... Paris: Arthus Bertrand, Libraire de la Société de Géographie, 1844. Text: xii [4] 524 + [4] 514 pp., 8 engraved plates. Atlas (20 leaves on thick paper): 3 leaves (title and prelims); 13 leaves (22 engraved maps); 4 leaves (4 lithographed plates); large folded lithographed map with original hand-colored outlining, on thin paper: Carte de la côte de l’Amérique sur l’océan Pacifique septentrional comprenant le Territoire de l’Orégon, les Californies, la Mer Vermeille, partie des Territoires de la Compagnie de la Baie d’Hudson, et de l’Amérique Russe. Dressée par Mr. Duflot de Mofras...Publié par ordre du Roi...Paris 1844. Le plan gravé par Jacobs, L’écriture gravée par Hacq... (91 x 57.5 cm; 35-3/4 x 22-5/8 inches). 3 vols. Text: 2 vols., 8vo, contemporary half green French morocco over green and black marbled boards, spines gilt-lettered, gilt-ruled, and with raised bands.

Atlas: Tall folio, contemporary half smooth brown calf over purple marbled boards, spine gilt-lettered, ruled, and ornamented. Moderate wear to bindings (particularly fragile corners; head of atlas spine lacking approximately 2 cm at top; some joints cracked but strong), moderate foxing to tissue guards in atlas, images fine and crisp with only occasional light foxing, occasional mild intermittent foxing to text, and one short tear to folded map neatly repaired on verso (overall the map is fine, with bright outline coloring). Overall a fine and complete copy of this superb set, the plates and maps excellent.


    First edition of “one of the great books of the West Coast” (Graff 1169). Barrett 734. California 49: Forty-Nine Maps of California from the Sixteenth Century to the Present (Carol Urness) 20n (citing Kislakovskii’s chart of a portion of the coastline of Northwestern America): “A copy of this map with additions was given to the French traveler Eugène Duflot de Mofras when he visited Fort Ross in 1841. This map was published in the atlas to Duflot de Mofras’s Exploration du Territoire de l’Oregon des Californies, Paris, 1844.” Cowan I, p. 74: “The atlas [is] superior to any other issued within that decade [and] this work was presumed to be a continuation of Humboldt’s description of the same region.”

Cowan II, p. 186. Forbes, Hawaiian National Bibliography 1461: “A rare and important work on California and Oregon.” Cf. Fritz, California Coast Redwood 291. Harlow, Maps of San Francisco Bay 26n, 28, 29; Maps of the Pueblo Lands of San Diego 14. Hill, p. 87: “Very rare.” Holliday 319. Howell 50, California 63. Howell, Anniversary Catalogue 38. Howes D542: “Issued under French government auspices, it forms an admirable supplement to Humboldt’s account of the same region and is the only early illustrated work on the Pacific coast comparable in beauty to the Voyage pittoresque of Choris or to Litké’s account of the Russian survey of the northwest coast.” Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 30.
    Lada-Mocarski 120: “One of the most important works on the northwestern coast, including Alaska.” LC, California Centennial 39. Libros Californianos, p. 25 (Wagner list). Monaghan, p. 35. Palau 76569. Phillips, Atlases 1457. Sabin 21144n. Smith 2599. Streeter Sale 3323. Van Nostrand & Coulter, California Pictorial, pp. 38-39 (reproducing “View of the Mission of San Luis Rey”). Walker, San Francisco’s Literary Frontier, p. 37. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 474 & II, pp. 185-86 (illustrated opposite p. 180): “De Mofras’ map was a landmark.” Wheat, Maps of the California Gold Region 19 & pp. xviii: “De Mofras, noted French diplomat-traveler, wrote at length in 1844 of his visit to Alta California, and his large map proved of great value to European publishers.” Zamorano 80 #30 (Robert J. Woods): “The author of this work was an attaché to the French embassy in Mexico City. He arrived in Monterey in May, 1841, remaining about five months.... He aimed to give a complete description of the country, its past history and present condition. He met Lieutenant Wilkes and Sir George Simpson. Each seemed to feel out the others as to the future policy of their countries towards California.”
    The outstanding plates and maps in this wonderful set are but one of its many appealing features.

Included are plates of Monterey,

California missionary Father Duran,

the large, magnificent “Vue de la Mission de Saint Louis Roi de France dans la Nouvelle Californie” (near the present town of Oceanside, California), and Californian throwing the lasso (taken from Smyth’s oft-repeated rendering as found in Beechey, Forbes, Dwinelle, and elsewhere). Charts and maps of California interest include the ports of San Diego, San Pedro, Santa Barbara, Monterey, Trinity, San Francisco, and Fort Ross.

The elegantly rendered and engraved oversize map, one of the great and rare Western maps, extends along the West Coast from Mount St. Elias to Acapulco and east as far as Hudson Bay, Fort Leavenworth, and Austin, Texas. Wheat (Mapping the Transmississippi West 474 & II, pp. 185-86) comments on this map: “A landmark...because it made these western regions known in European official circles.... De Mofras was much interested in travel routes. East of Santa Fe he noted the ‘Route des Chariots des Etats-Unis,’ and (for the first time on any published map?) he showed what later came to be called ‘The Old Spanish Trail.’... De Mofras really should have been a California ‘realtor.’ For example, in the...interior valley of California he says: ‘Cette immense Valleé comprise entre la Sierra Nevada et les Mts. Californiens [the Coast Range], est arrosée de petites rivières et remplie de lagunes d’eau douce très poissonneuses. Ce pays est plus beau encore que la partie habitée de la Californie, son climat est plus doux, il presente des terrains fertiles, des bois de construction superbes et de vastes prairies ou paissent de troupeaux de Certs, d’Antilopes, de Taureaux et de Chevaux sauvages.’ [De Mofras] was a sturdy soul, and his highly original map has much to commend it.” Wheat comments in Maps of the California Gold Region 19: “[De Mofras’s] beautifully engraved map was much used by European cartographers as the basis for early gold-rush period maps of California and neighboring territory.”

    Harlow includes two of Duflot de Mofras’s maps of San Francisco Bay. Plate 16 (Port de San Francisco dans la Haute Californie, 29.5 x 24.5 cm; 11-5/6 x 9-5/6 inches) “is a transcription in French of the 1833 edition of Beechey’s San Francisco Harbour 1827-1828, revised to include information obtained by Duflot de Mofras during his visit in 1841.... At the time of the California gold rush the Duflot de Mofras and Beechey charts of the bay were eagerly seized by publishers ready to pirate any material pertaining to this popular area” (Harlow 28). At the bottom of plate 26 is the inset map of the port of San Francisco (Entrée du Port de San Francisco et des mouillages del Sausalito et de la Yerba Buena, 13 x 24.5 cm; 5-1/4 x 9-7/8 inches), which Harlow describes as “a revision, in French, of Beechey’s Entrance of San Francisco Harbour 1827-1828, taken from the printed edition of 1833. Duflot de Mofras’s additions to Beechey’s survey were the location of William A. Richardson’s house at Sausalito, the extension of the road from the San Francisco presidio to Fort Point, and a representation of the settlement of Yerba Buena, showing the location of buildings” (Harlow 29). Harlow (26) discusses Duflot de Mofras’s manuscript map and its adaptation from Beechey: “In his text he fully acknowledged his debt to Beechey for the Plan of San Francisco Bay, presumably the Hydrographical Office edition of 1833, and Beechey’s work is probably as well known in this modified French edition as in the original English.”

Harlow (Maps of the Pueblo Lands of San Diego 14) discusses the San Diego map (Plan du port de S. Diego, situé sur la côte septentrionale de la Californie, 22.5 x 17.5 cm; 8-7/8 x 6-7/8 inches), noting that it was “modeled upon the Pantoja plan issued by Espinosa y Tello in 1802 [Harlow 11], with the text translated into French, brazas into meters, and some alterations to reflect contemporary observations.... [Duflot de Mofras] appears to have been the first to show the hide houses at la playa.” On the same sheet as the San Diego map, at left is Plan de l’embouchure du Rio Colorado, dans la Mer Vermeille.
($20,000-40,000)


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