AUCTION 23

 
 

The Best Known of All Letter Sheets

The Miners’ Ten Commandments

 
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211. [LETTER SHEET: CALIFORNIA]. HUTCHINGS, James M[ason]. The Miners’ Ten Commandments [above lower border center] Hanna & Co., Printers [below lower border] Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1854, by James M. Hutchings, in the Clerk’s Office of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California | Orders addressed, J.F. Larrabee, 130 Sansome St., San Francisco. San Francisco: Hanna & Co., 1854. Woodcut engraved vignettes surrounding text, grey wove paper, 11 scenes: an elephant at the top points to the Ten Commandments posted on a mining shack; other vignettes illustrate each of the Commandments, neat line to neat line: 27 x 22 cm; overall sheet size: 28.2 x 23 cm. Chipping to left edge, with minimal loss to border at lower left, inch tear at upper left into image (no loss). A very good copy. Remains of former mounting on verso.

     Baird 167b. Clifford Sale (Letter Sheets) 184. James M. Hutchings, originally from England, moved to California during the Gold Rush. He was successful as a miner, but lost his wealth in a bank failure. Subsequently, he established a publishing venture and became editor of Hutchings’ California Magazine, emerging as the most important letter sheet publisher in California. Living in Placerville, the native Englishman issued a series under the title of Hutchings’ California Scenes and enjoyed the distinction of publishing in 1853 the best known of all letter sheets, The Miners’ Ten Commandments. Its “good book” style text was surrounded by eleven appropriate cuts, poking fun at the miners’ lack of morals, along with many other shady miner practices. Hutchings apparently liked this moralizing, as indicated by two more letter sheets: The Miner’s Creed and Commandments to California Wives.

     The commandments are as follows:

1.   Thou shalt have no other claim than one.

2.   Thou shalt not make unto thyself any false claim....

3.   Thou shalt not go prospecting before thy claim gives out....

4.   Thou shalt not remember what thy friends do at home on the Sabbath day....

5.   Thou shalt not think more of all thy gold....

6.   Thou shalt not kill thy body by working in the rain....

7.   Thou shalt not grow discouraged....

8.   Thou shalt not steal a pick, or a shovel, or a pan from thy fellow miner....

9.   Thou shalt not tell any false tales....

10.  Thou shalt not commit unsuitable matrimony....

($750-1,500)

Sold. Hammer: $750.00; Price Realized: $918.75.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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