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AUCTION 20

27. FERRY, Ippolito [Hypolite]. La California Descrizione Geografica, Politica e Morale che contiene la storia della scoperta di questa terra.—Quadro degli avvenimenti politici che vi si effettuarono.—Dettagli sulla sua topografia, sul clima, e sulle produzioni minerali, vegetabili e animali.—Nozioni intorno alla mineralogia, metallurgia e geologia, carattere spirito, usi e costumi de' suoi abitanti.—Descrizione delle sue baie, porti, città, missioni e villaggi.—Cognizioni nautiche sulle sue baie e sul suoi porti.—Tariffa delle dogane in California.—Instruzioni generali relative alle strade che conducono in California, ai luoghi di passaggio, e descrizione di Changres, Panama, del Capo Horn e della Terra del Fuoco, ec., ec. di Ippolito Ferry Membro della Società Geografica, di Parigi Prima Traduzione Italiana di S. d. S. Venice: Dalla Tipografia Fontana, 1851. 324, [2 (plate list)] 325-340 pp. (pages 3/4 misnumbered 4/3; separately inserted index leaf usually found at end bound between pages 324/325), title and text printed within ornamental border, 12 engraved plates of views (each within ornamental border). 8vo, contemporary three-quarter smooth black Venetian calf over rose and brown mottled boards, spine gilt decorated and ruled, edges sprinkled blue. Head of spine slightly chipped, corners and edges of binding rubbed, mild worming to blank gutters, otherwise fine, interior bright and beautiful. Rare.

Plates (some signed by Italian engraver G. Bernasconi):

Rio Colorado

La Valle del Sacramento

Monti della California

Il lago Salato

Il forte Sutter

Miniere d’Oro

Miniere di Plombo

S. Francisco

Contorni de Montereÿ

Missione de S. Francisco di Assisi

Sotterranei nell’Indostan

La Sierra—Morena

     First Italian edition of preceding. Cowan II, p. 207. Howes F101. Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 236b (calling for 12 plates, as in the present copy): “The plates are stock views. For example, the view of Mission Dolores is actually the gates of Mycenae in Macedonia and the print of Sutter's Fort shows it situated high on a mountain. In the copies examined, the number and location of the plates vary.” (The plate list in the volume calls for 13 plates, but the present copy has 12 plates, as indicated by Kurutz. The copy in Comune di Venezia has only three plates.) Monaghan 690. No copies located by RLIN; OCLC: Bancroft, UCLA, LC, N-Y Historical Society.

     Any prospective emigrant from the Mediterranean area perusing the illustrations in this guide while considering joining the Gold Rush in 1851 surely would have concluded that the California landscape would be very much like home. Never has Mission Dolores looked so grandiose in its makeover as the monumental Gates of Mycenae, with three persons lounging in front, one wearing a turban and smoking a very long pipe. Perhaps the most unfathomable plate is Sotterranei nell’Indostan, an attempt to show California Native Americans. Apparently the natives have abandoned their humble sweat lodge, for they are shown ensconced in a vast Romanesque structure with barrel-vaulted ceiling. Gone, too, is their tribal garb, which has been discarded in favor of European peasant clothing. Charming though the images may be, they lack documentary clout. Perhaps the lesson gleaned from this guide is that with a little ingenuity, European publishers might well profit from the Gold Rush. Although there was a long European tradition of depicting New World features and people through an Old World lens, one is somewhat shocked to see the technique applied so blatantly and crudely in this edition at this late date. ($800-1,200)

Sold. Hammer: $800.00; Price Realized: $940.00

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