Rare Gold Rush Allegory—Illustrated by Charles Nahl
7. [BAUSMAN, William (attributed)]. The Idle and Industrious Miner [title within ornamental border and with illustration of miner’s pick and whiskey bottle]. Sacramento: James Anthony & Co., Publishers, 21 J Street, 1854. 23  pp., 19 text engravings by Thomas Armstrong after Charles Nahl. 8vo, original upper green pictorial wrapper (restitched). Wrapper has small voids in blank areas and is reinforced on verso with archival tape, a few stains and scattered light foxing to text, creased where formerly folded, faint rubber stamp at top of wrapper (reading in part: “From Parker [illegible].” Overall a very good copy of a book difficult to find in any condition. In 1923, the pamphlet was described as “very rare” (Huntington Sale 447).
First edition. AII, California Non-Documentary Imprints 31. Cowan I, pp. 64-65 (under Delano). Cowan II, p. 39. Greenwood 473. Hamilton, Early American Book Illustrators and Wood Engravers 1111; see also Vol. I, pp. 190-191: “Armstrong, an English-born engraver, was the guiding spirit of the Illustrated News, the first illustrated paper of the Pacific Coast.” Howell, California 50:289. Howes B247. Streeter Sale 2756: “The great appeal of this pamphlet lies in the many spirited drawings and capital letters with the text and in the pictorial front wrapper which, though unsigned, are said in the preface to be by Nahl and engraved by ‘Mr. Armstrong.’ The pictures illustrate a poem where virtue is rewarded and vice pays the penalty. The hero is shown as depositing his well-earned bag of gold with the banking house of Adams & Co. If my impression is correct that Adams & Co. failed, then it is to be hoped that the hero drew his money out first; otherwise virtue would not have been rewarded after all. I do not know the authority by which the second edition of Cowan ascribed the authorship of the poem to William Bausman.—TWS”
Charles Nahl (1818-78), the “Cruikshank of California,” joined the Gold Rush in 1850 and became one of the first resident California artists of significance. His work vividly captures the disappointments and triumphs of mining and pioneering life, blending realism, pathos, and humor.Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 43:
Cowan, in the revised and expanded 1933 edition of his bibliography, attributed this work to William Bausman instead of to Alonzo Delano as he did in 1914. Cowan does not, however, explain his reasoning. Charles Nahl designed the illustrations and Thomas Armstrong produced the engravings. The illustrations first appeared in the Sacramento Pictorial Union for July 4, 1854. This melodramatic poem was based on William Hogarth’s Rake’s Progress. In this nineteen episode work, two miners are profiled with one succumbing to alcohol and gambling while the other one perseveres, works his claim, and returns safely to his family. As Moreland L. Stevens points out in his Charles Christian Nahl: Artist of the Gold Rush (Sacramento: E. B. Crocker Art Gallery, 1976), the genesis of Nahl’s celebrated painting, “Sunday Morning in the Mines” may be seen in this allegorical work. Stevens further states: “The success of The Idle and Industrious Miner firmly established Nahl’s reputation as an illustrator.” Notice of the work appeared in the San Francisco Daily Alta California for January 10, 1855. The publication sold for $30 per hundred and single copies for $.50 each.
This melodramatic poem was reproduced by the Sacramento Union in 1920 and in ca. 1945 by Ghost Town News.
Images (click to enlarge)
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