[CALIFORNIA]. RYAN, William Redmond. Personal Adventures in Upper and Lower California, in 1848-9; with the Author’s Experience at the Mines. Illustrated by Twenty-Three Drawings, Taken on the Spot. London: William Shoberl, Publisher, 20, Great Marlborough Street, 1850. 2 Vols. Vol. I:  2-4 (ads), [v-vii] viii-x, [iii] iv-vi, ,  2-347  pp., frontispiece, 9 plates; Vol. II: [i-iii] iv-vi,  2-413 [1, blank] pp., frontispiece, 12 plates. Total: 23 plates (3 lithograph plates on tinted grounds [including the 2 frontispieces] and 20 wood-engraved plates). 8vo (20 x 13 cm), new three-quarter crimson morocco over marbled boards with gilt-lettered spines, new endpapers, t.e.g. Interior, including plates all with original tissue guards, very fine.
First edition. Barrett 2183. Braislin 1599. Byrd, California 8. Cowan I, p. 197; II, p. 547. Decker 32:61. Eberstadt 125:191. Garrett & Goodwin, p. 155. Graff 3626. Gudde, California Gold Camps, p. 419. Holliday Sale 966. Howell 50:215. Howes R558. Kurutz 548a. Norris 3340. Plath 952. Rocq 16037. Sabin 74532. Streeter Sale 2646. Tutorow 3676. Vail, Gold Fever, p. 22. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 173.
A book important for both the Mexican-American War and the Gold Rush. Ryan, from England, enlisted in the First Regiment of New York Volunteers and arrived in California in February, 1848, aboard the USS Isabella. After several months of marching up and down California without seeing much action, his company was somewhat irregularly discharged months after their enlistments were up. They received no written proof that they were entitled to the land they were promised, for example. All were ready to be gone, however, because they wanted to go to the diggings.
“When the regiment disbanded, Ryan went off to the Stanislaus diggings for a brief and unsuccessful try at mining and then returned to Monterey. Ryan devoted the first two chapters of volume II to life in the diggings. The adventurer quickly found that trading pistols and rifles reaped a much greater and less strenuous reward than mining. Consequently, his opinion of mining was negative. “Cowan calls this title ‘the charming narrative of an artist and bohemian who left unrecorded but little that he saw.’ The plates by Ryan furnish the reader with some of the best contemporary views of mining, cities, pueblos, and daily life in California” (Kurutz).