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Auction 12: The Zamorano 80 Collection of Daniel G. Volkmann Jr.

Lots 32 & 32A

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Item 32. Dwinelle’s Colonial History of the City of San Francisco—“An indispensable storehouse of information on the beginnings of San Francisco” (Howell).

32. DWINELLE, John W[hipple] (1816-1881). The Colonial History of the City of San Francisco: Being a Synthetic Argument in the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of California, for Four Square Leagues of Land Claimed by That City. San Francisco: Towne & Bacon, Book and Job Printers, 1863. [6] 102 [2, blank] 115 (addenda) pp., engraved frontispiece map (included in pagination): San Francisco Peninsula (16 x 11.7 cm; 6-1/4 x 4-3/4 inches). 8vo, modern half tan morocco over marbled boards. Text slightly age-toned and with occasional light foxing and a few minor stains (mainly affecting map), overall very good. From the Jenkins Company, rebound by their in-house Adolphus Bindery. Jenkins’s pencil price code and price at front.
First edition. Cowan I, p. 75: “Issued as a brief.” Cowan II, p. 189. Holliday 331. Howell 50, California 782: “An indispensable storehouse of information on the beginnings of San Francisco.” Howes D614: “Basic book for the beginnings of this city, with documents not available elsewhere.” Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 32. Norris 1023. Rocq 7959. Streeter Sale 2879. Zamorano 80 #32. ($500-1,000)

32A. DWINELLE, John W[hipple]. The Colonial History of the City of San Francisco.... San Francisco: Towne & Bacon, 1866. iv [2, inserted full-page printed errata on clay-coated paper] v-ix [1, blank] xi-xlv [2, printed addenda on clay-coated paper measuring 8 x 13.5 cm, inserted between xliv and xlv: additional 3 documents added to serial index, verso blank] [1, blank] [1]-34 (Address on the Acquisition of California...) [2, inserted full-page errata, verso blank] [2, engraved map: San Francisco Peninsula (16 x 11.7 cm; 6-1/4 x 4-3/4 inches)] [1]-106 (Narrative Argument), [1]-222 [lithographic map with shores outlined in blue: Sketch Government Reservations San Francisco Accompanying No. III in Addenda, No. CXIII. Page, 222 (26.5 x 22 cm; 10-3/4 x 8-3/4 inches)] 223-364 [printed addenda on regular paper measuring 13.3 x 13.5 cm (5-1/4 x 5-1/2 inches), inserted between 364 and 365: No. CLXXI–BIS. (final order dated in 1867)] 365 [366, blank] 363*-369* [1] (inserted 8-page addenda, printed on full-page clay-coated paper: Addenda, No. CLXXII-[CLXIII], text and index leaves with 1866 documents updating the litigation), [367]-391 (index) pp., 3 lithographic plates, 2 maps (as indicated in collation). 8vo, contemporary three-quarter brown sheep over marbled boards, spine gilt-lettered and decorated in black, raised bands, marbled endpapers. Sheep abraded (particularly at corners and extremities), interior very fine. An interesting association copy with the following ink notes on blank preliminaries: “Auditor’s Office, Official Copy, To be kept for record”; “Colin M. Boyd, City & Co. Auditor San Francisco, 1879”; “Auditors Office not to be removed.” Old printed catalogue slip affixed to front free endpaper declaring this copy the third edition and “without a doubt the Rarest and most valuable of all the large San Francisco pieces. The number of copies of this edition issued has been generally thought to be 100, but judging by its Extreme Scarcity, it is doubtful if that number were issued....” Another pencil note in an unidentified hand: “2d issue?”
“Third edition” (printed on title), second issue, the best edition, with much added material over the first edition, consisting of documentation on the litigation after the case was transferred to the U.S. Circuit Court, plus the second map and the fine lithographic plates. In addition, this issue has the various addenda as shown above, to update the litigation further, including the final order dated in 1867 and the four extra leaves after p. 365. Streeter’s copy was similar to the present copy. Streeter Sale 2912: “The second issue of the third edition, with the starred pages 363-369 and the inserted slip ‘No. CLXXI-Bis.’ which gives the final order of the Supreme Court of the United States of February 4, 1867, or the fourth edition, which is identical except for the date ‘1867’ instead of ‘1866’ on the title page and the legend ‘Fourth’ instead of ‘Third edition’ are the desirable editions of this important work.” Bradford 1474. Cowan I, pp. 75-76: “200 copies was the extent of the third edition.” Cowan II, p. 189 (not mentioning a second edition ). Graff 1189. Holliday 332. Howell 50, California 783. Howes D614 (speculates that the “second edition” is a ghost). Norris 1024: “Extremely rare.” Rocq 7961. Two of the three lithographs are attributed to Britton & Rey, the earliest lithographic firm west of the Rockies (see Hart, Companion to California, p. 52). Two of the images of San Francisco were based on original drawings by English artist and naval officer William Smyth, who accompanied the Beechey expedition (Item 4 herein) and whose work appeared in Forbes (Item 38 herein). The third plate (Mission San Luis Rey) was based on an image in Duflot de Mofras (Item 30 herein). See Van Nostrand, San Francisco, 1806-1906, in Contemporary Paintings, Drawings, and Watercolors, plate 4. ($600-1,200)


W. W. Robinson, the noted historian of Title Insurance and Trust Company of Los Angeles and author of Land in California, best summed up the value of this legal compendium: “His brief, which he published in four editions from 1863 to 1867 as The Colonial History of San Francisco, is a history of San Francisco’s Spanish and Mexican periods, supported with documents of the greatest importance in the history of California land titles.”
Following the Land Act of 1851, the city of San Francisco, the successor to the pueblo of Yerba Buena, filed a claim for four leagues of pueblo or town lands. The United States contended that “There was never any pueblo of San Francisco.” This contention would invalidate the city’s claim for thousands of acres. To counter the government, special counsel John W. Dwinelle successfully argued the city’s case before the district and circuit courts. As the preface noted, “A chronological narrative seemed the appropriate and only means of silencing this clamor.” In so doing, the attorney developed a mountain of historical evidence, assembling in one place the basic Hispanic legal documents that governed San Francisco since its founding in 1776. “When the work [his brief] was nearly finished,” as explained in the preface, “the suggestion occurred that it was too valuable to be thrown as a mere waif upon the stream, as law-briefs and other pamphlets commonly are was not without a permanent value as the first essay towards the ‘Colonial History of San Francisco.’”
Subsequent editions packed in even more documentary material. Wright Howes speculates that the second edition was probably never issued. Dwinelle published the third and expanded edition after the case went to the U.S. Circuit Court. Two William Smyth plates from the Beechey voyage (q.v.) and a plate from Duflot de Mofras (q.v.) of Mission San Luis Rey (not San Francisco) were added. The best editions are the second issue of the Towne & Bacon 1866 printing and their 1867 imprint. These editions consist of sheets from the first issue of 1866, with the added materials. The only change in the 1867 Towne & Bacon imprint is the date on the title and the printed designation “Fourth Edition.” A map delineating the various ranchos of the San Francisco peninsula provides a useful point of reference. Although a hodgepodge, the value of this basic San Francisco book is further enhanced by the fact that because of earthquake and fire, many of the original documents no longer survive.
Dwinelle was indeed a man of mark. A native of Rochester, New York and a successful attorney, Dwinelle could not resist the excitement generated by the Gold Rush. He arrived in this frenzied land but saw a much more lucrative opportunity in plying his legal skills rather than in swishing a gold pan. After a brief return home, the magnetism of California brought him back to San Francisco where he set up his legal practice. Historian J. M. Guinn took note of the special skills he brought to the courtroom: “His mastery of the Spanish language, acquaintance with Spanish land titles and history of Mexican colonial times, made him especially proficient in settling land cases.” In addition to his involvement in land grant cases, he built a formidable private library (sold at auction in 1877), won election as mayor of Oakland in 1864, and as a California assemblyman, introduced the bill to create and organize the University of California in 1868. Among this legal scholar’s proudest accomplishments was his argument before the California Supreme Court “on the right of colored children to be admitted to public schools.”

——Gary F. Kurutz

Additional sources consulted: J. M. Guinn, History of the State of California and Biographic Record of Oakland and Environs (Los Angeles: Historic Record Co., 1907), vol. 2, pp. 467-68; W. W. Robinson, Land in California (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1948), pp. 232-34

Item 32. Engraved frontispiece map of San Francisco Peninsula from Dwinelle’s Colonial History of the City of San Francisco.

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