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AUCTION 20

Stillman Redwoods

136. [STILLMAN, G. K. (engraver)] The Mammoth Trees of California. (Calaveras County.) (Sequoia Gigantea.) [lower left below image] G. K. Stillman, Engraver, 4th & Walnut, Cin. [lower right below image area] Times Steam Job Color Press Print. [Cincinnati: G. K. Stillman, 1875?] Untitled key lettered A-H in two parts on either side of title. Colored wood-cut engraving 45.5 x 62 cm (central image area); 49.4 x 62 cm (entire printed area). Large crease through lower left corner into image area, some marginal chipping and tears mostly in blank margins but two of which barely intrude into image area; professionally backed with tissue paper consolidating all tears and chips. Overall, very good with excellent color retention. Dating from Currey & Kruska.

     First edition? Cf. Currey & Kruska 246 (another edition of the same image): “A fanciful engraving of the Calaveras Grove, showing the principal trees, living and dead, grouped around the hotel.” An excellent image seeking to convey to Eastern viewers some idea of the magnificent California redwoods and their enormous size. Shown in the scene are “The Father of the Forest” (uprooted), “The Mother of the Forest” (girdled 110 feet up), “The Three Graces,” “The Big Tree” (also felled), “The Miner’s Cabin” (in a tree trunk), “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (also in a tree trunk), “The Horseback Ride,” and “The Two Guardsmen or Sentinels.” Their prodigious size is conveyed by the general scene, which shows the hotel at the lower center and various relatively small people engaged in such activities as walking around and climbing on the felled trees.

     This print was part of the general public fascination with all things California that arose after the excitement of the Gold Rush died down and that was fueled by numerous pictorial publications depicting the state’s wonders. Although some such works were intended to be actual guides for travellers, this print was clearly intended for the arm chair tourist who would enjoy the wonders shown vicariously rather than in person. ($400-$800)

Sold. Hammer: $500.00; Price Realized: $587.50

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