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

Lots 93-95: Gregory's Guide & Ephemera

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93. GREGORY, Joseph W. Gregory’s Guide for California Travellers; Via the Isthmus of Panama. Containing All the Requisite Information Needed by Persons Taking This Route. New York: Nafis & Cornish; St. Louis: Nafis, Cornish & McDonald, 1850. 9 [1, blank] pp., title with seal of the State of California. 8vo, bound in modern grey library boards, modern wrappers. Very light staining to title and first few leaves. Preserved in red roan over cloth slipcase with chemise. Chemise with Warren R. Howell’s pencil notes, including: “Some copies have pp. 11-46, a reprint of Constitution of California”). Provenance: Henry H. Clifford.

    First edition of a rare early guide for California travelers. Cowan I, pp. 99-100. Cowan II, pp. 249-250. Howes G407. Jones 254 (calling for 5 leaves only, like the present copy): “The writer outlines the route and mode of travel from New York to San Francisco by way of the Isthmus, indicating necessary costs, desirable supplies, etc.” Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 294a (alone in error calling for a map). Sabin 28744n. An early printed guide to traveling to the goldfields via Panama, put out by one of the early successful entrepreneurs in the coast-to-coast express business. In addition to offering practical advice about travel and money, Gregory also brims with medical advice. Although most copies have the Constitution of California (pp. [11]-46) appended, there is no conclusive bibliographical evidence that it is necessary for a copy to be complete, and the blank on the verso of p. 9 suggests that the work might be had either with or without it. Cowan denounces this and all such other works: “When to these defects maps and plates, such as they were, had been added, the effect was as brilliant as colors in a child’s kaleidoscope, and nearly as useless” (I, p. 100).
($1,200-2,400)

94. GREGORY’S EXPRESS. Gregory’s Express Pocket Letter Book, Designed to Facilitate Correspondence between the Cities and Towns and Mining Districts in California, and All Parts of the United States.... San Francisco: Thompson & Hitchcock, 1851. [20] blank leaves of faintly ruled blue wove paper (12.2 x 7.3 cm; 4-3/4 x 2-3/4 inches). 24mo, original navy blue coated wrappers printed in gold, with ads on inside of upper wrapper and 1851 calendar on inside of lower. Unused, as issued. Exceptionally fine.

    Gregory’s letter book was specially designed “to facilitate correspondence between cities and towns and the mining districts in California.” The printed wrappers of the letter book contain an abundance of data on Gregory’s Express. Opening an office in San Francisco sometime in 1850, Joseph Gregory offered full services for people wishing to ship or import merchandise, gold, or letters, all of which he sent across Panama, except for a period during which he fairly brilliantly contracted with Vanderbilt to send letters across Nicaragua, thereby shaving several days off the trip. In addition to his express business, he was a public-minded citizen, even being a member of the local Vigilance Committee. His business apparently failed around 1853, driven out by competition such as Adams and Wells Fargo. See Ernest A. Wiltsee, The Joseph W. Gregory Express, 1850-1853 (American Philatelist, 1937). This letter book, which was designed to fit in a standard envelope, is an example of his innovative methods.
($400-800)

95. GREGORY’S EXPRESS. [GOLD RUSH LETTER: TODD’S VALLEY]
. REED, James M. Autograph letter signed, to his wife and sons. Todd’s Valley California, near the American River, April 1, 1855. 14 pp. in Gregory’s Express Pocket Letter Book, Designed to Facilitate Correspondence.... San Francisco: Thompson & Hitchcock, 1851. [30] leaves of faintly ruled blue wove paper (12.2 x 7.3 cm; 4-3/4 x 2-3/4 inches). 24mo, original navy blue coated wrappers printed in gold, with ads on inside of wrappers. Spine reinforced, slightly shaken, otherwise as issued. Very good.


Gold Rush letter from Todd’s Valley written in Gregory’s Express Pocket Letter Book —
a microcosm of difficulties miners faced and the hopes they held for striking gold

     Reed’s letter to his wife, Nancy, is a microcosm of difficulties miners faced and the hopes that they held for striking gold. Among the inconveniences Reed finds–and he reports this quite honestly to Nancy–is that he longs for the company of women, but he has not seen one in three months. Reed reports that he has not been shaved or clipped since he left home, thereby leaving probably both his wife and the modern reader to wonder if he refers to his hair or his pocketbook. Also includes two 1-page letters to his young sons, Cicero and Walter.
($500-1,000)


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