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Lot 141

Early geologic reports on California mines by the first state geologist

141. TRASK, John B[oardman]. 4 reports:

[1] In the Assembly. Session of 1853. Prof. John B. Trask’s Report on the Geology of the Sierra Nevada, or California Range. [San Francisco]: George Kerr, State Printer. 30 pp. Cowan II, p. 643. Greenwood 428 (locating copies at California State Library, Huntington, and Bancroft). Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 636. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 209: “One of several worthwhile contributions of this notable early geologist and physician.”

[2] Document No. 9. In the Assembly. Session 1854. Report of the Geology of the Coast Mountains, and Part of the Sierra Nevada: Embracing Their Industrial Resources in Agriculture and Mining, By Dr. John B. Trask. [Sacramento]: B. B. Redding, State Printer. 95 [1, blank] pp. Anderson Sale 1604:578. Greenwood 526 (locating copies at Huntington and Bancroft): “Examination of the resources of Placer, Nevada, El Dorado and Calaveras counties, with description of the country, mines, etc.” Norris 3950.

[3] Document No. 14. In Senate. Session 1855. Report of the Geology of the Coast Mountains; Embracing Their Agricultural Resources and Mineral Productions. Also, Portions of the Middle and Northern Mining Districts. By Dr. John B. Trask. [Sacramento]: B. B. Redding, State Printer. 91 [4] pp. Anderson Sale 1604:579 (selling in 1921 for the amazing price of 25 cents): “Narrative of a tour of observation, with account of the mines, etc.” Cowan II, p. 643. Greenwood 622 (locating copies at Huntington and Bancroft). Norris 5593.

[4] Document No. 14. In Senate. Session of 1856. Report of the Geology of Northern and Southern California, Embracing the Mineral and Agricultural Resources of Those Sections; With Statistics of the Northern, Southern and Middle Mines. By Dr. John B. Trask. [Sacramento]: James Allen, State Printer. 66 pp. Cowan II, p. 643. Greenwood 776 (locating copies at California Historical Society, Huntington, Bancroft, and Streeter).

4 vols., 8vo, later pale green boards with printed paper spine labels. Except for occasional foxing and browning, very fine.

     First editions of very early scientific reports on California mineral resources and geology, including detailed listings of mines in operation with statistics history of various mines, and other valuable documentation not found elsewhere. While not so riveting as a pocket map of the Gold Rush or a book like Marryat’s graced with alluring iconography, these somewhat early California imprints are highly significant for their date and content. In some cases, the content extends beyond geologic considerations, such as Trask’s discussion of the “Present Government of Metallic Veins” in the report for 1854, in which he explores placing all mining operations under the aegis of the State, with a brief history of the Spanish and Mexican ordenanzas de minería (pp. 78-83). To locate all four of these early reports together is a feat, given their scarcity in commerce.

     Trask (1824-1879), a Massachusetts-born physician, emigrated to Californian 1850, where he signed on with the Mexican Boundary survey. He became California’s first State Geologist in the perhaps most heady area of that science, serving from 1853 to 1855. Trask was a founder of the California Academy of Sciences.

Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 636n:

John B. Trask, the first state geologist, presented a highly technical report in which he covered California mining resources. In subsequent years, Trask produced more readable reports based on tours of the mining districts. In addition to this report and several others written in later years on California's mineral resources, Trask also published in 1853 an important map entitled Topographical Map of the Mineral Districts of California.

(4 vols.) ($750-1,500)


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