“I resigned the quill for ‘the pick and the spade’”
148. UPHAM, Samuel C[urtiss]. Notes of a Voyage to California via Cape Horn, Together with Scenes in El Dorado, in the Years 1849-’50. With an Appendix Containing Reminiscences of Pioneer Journalism in California. In California—California Day at the Centennial Exhibition, Philadelphia, Sept. 9th, 1876—Re-Unions and Banquets of the Associated Pioneers of California, in New York, January 18th, 1877 and 1878—Celebration of Admission Day, at Long Branch, N.J., Sept. 8th,1877—Reception to General John C. Fremont, Aug. 1st, 1878, and to Hon. Philip A. Roach, June 19th, 1876—Dedication of the Lick Monument at Fredericksburg, Pa., April 22d, 1878—Extracts from the Manuscript Journal of the "King's Orphan," in the Year 1843—Pioneer and Kindred Organizations; Together with the Articles of Association and Roll of Members of "The Associated Pioneers of the Territorial Days of California." By Samuel C. Upham. With Forty-Five Illustrations.” All of Which I Saw, and Part of Which I Was.” Philadelphia: [Press of Franklin Printing House, 39 Hudson Street] Published by the Author, 1878. 594 pp., 34 engraved plates, including portraits of Sutter and Upham (all counted as part of pagination) plus text illustrations. 8vo, publisher’s original “English ruby-cloth," upper cover ruled in black, spine and upper cover lettered in gilt and with gilt illustration of bear, bevelled edges, edges tinted red. Minor shelf wear, hinges strengthened and new marbled endpapers, two abraded spots on portrait and title where a former owner’s name was removed, overall a very good copy of a book usually found out of its binding or rebacked, due to the heavy book block.
First edition. Bradford 5536. Cowan I, pp. 235-36. Cowan II, p. 652. Hill II:1751. Holliday 1115. Howell, California 50:888: “Provides much information about the early history of Sacramento, the territorial pioneers, and early California journalism for which there are no other sources.” Howes U23. Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 76. Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 647. Matthews, p. 322, Norris 4045 (this copy). Palau 345057. Rocq 12656. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 215. Zamorano 80 #76.
Kurutz in Volkmann Zamorano 80 catalogue:
According to Upham, these reminiscences “have been written amid the hurly-burly of a busy mercantile life, from notes taken at the time the incidents treated of transpired.” Despite being a recollection, his narrative is rich with information and written in a sprightly and entertaining way.
Leaving a lucrative position in a counting house in Philadelphia, Upham “resigned the quill for ‘the pick and the spade’” and set sail on the brig Osceola on January 15, 1849, shipped around Cape Horn, and reached San Francisco on August 5. Upham devoted a major portion of his book to the long voyage. After experiencing a jumping San Francisco, the gold seeker headed for the diggings on the Calaveras River. Poor health, however, forced him back to Stockton and then San Francisco, where he survived by selling pickles and pipes before becoming a courier for the Pacific News. In the spring of 1850, Upham relocated in Sacramento, and with five others started the Sacramento Transcript, one of California’s first newspapers. The journalist provided a superior description of Sacramento City, witnessing the first great fire, the first election under state law, and, in August, the famed Squatter Riots in which the sheriff was killed and the mayor wounded. He wrote in vivid terms of Captain Sutter and his fort, a banquet at Sutter’s Hock Farm, a concert given by the celebrated French composer Henri Herz, and the first minstrel performance in town. Upham liberally reproduced articles from his newspaper to supplement his narrative. In the fall, he sold out his interests in the Transcript for $10,000 and returned to Philadelphia via the Isthmus of Panama on the steamship Columbus. Upham included an extensive appendix covering such topics as the history of pioneer journalism in California, celebration of Admission Day, a reception for John C. Frémont, and the dedication of the Lick Monument at Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania.
The California State Library has a prospectus dated November 8, 1878, and a publisher’s “dummy” for this important reminiscence. Sold by subscription in an edition of 600 copies, the author charged $3.00 for cloth and $5.00 for Turkey morocco with full gilt. The San Francisco Alta California for December 16, 1878, carried an announcement of Upham’s book. In a note about the engravings Upham wrote: “The illustrations in this volume are from Original Sketches, Daguerreotypes, Photographs, the ‘Annals of San Francisco,’ and ‘California Illustrated’ [by J. M. Letts].”
<<Previous Lot (147) | Back to Auction 16 Abstracts | Next Lot (149) >>
Home | Auction
16 | Auction 17 | Auction