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|3. BANCROFT, H[ubert]
H[owe] (1832-1918). Works. San Francisco:
A. L. Bancroft & Company & The History Company, 1882-1890. 39 vols.,
complete (engraved portrait of Bancroft, maps, some folding, and text
illustrations), 8vo, original full tan levant morocco, upper and lower
covers gilt-ruled and gilt-decorated, spines gilt with raised bands, inner
gilt dentelles, marbled endpapers and edges. Vol. 4, Native Races,
in slightly different binding although spine is uniform with other vols.
(a variant binding and marbled endpapers differ slightly—perhaps an extremely
well-matched rebinding?). A few inconsequential flaws, such as light wear
to spinal extremities of a small number of vols., an occasional bumped
corner, one vol. with old tape repair to rear free endpaper, but overall
an excellent and handsome set in a desirable, durable binding.
First edition, mixed printings (Howes & LC state 1882-1891, but Howes notes that the set went through several printings). Cowan I, p. 11. Cowan II, p. 33: “As time passes and prejudice drifts into obscurity, these works become more strongly entrenched each year. For scholars and investigators they will always remain the greatest source of authority.” Edwards, Enduring Desert, pp. 19-20. Graff 155. Howell 50, California 1458. Howes B91. Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 3. Libros Californianos (Hanna list), pp. 69. Norris 185. Smith 530. Walgren, The Scallawagiana Hundred: A Selection of the Hundred Most Important Books about the Mormons and Utah 77 (citing vol. 26, Utah). Tweney, The Washington 89 #4. Walker, San Francisco’s Literary Frontier, pp. 302-315. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 10. Zamorano 80 #3. (39 vols.) ($3,000-6,000)
3A. BANCROFT, H[ubert] H[owe]. California Pastoral.
The Works...History of Pastoral California 1769-1848
[Vol. 34 of the Works]. San Francisco: The History Co., 1888. vi,
808 pp. 8vo, original sheep, black leather spine labels. Binding abraded
and worn (as is often the case with the sheep binding), upper hinge a bit
loose, marginal browning to endpapers (due to contact of the acidic binding
with the paper), internally fine.
Bancroft’s thirty-nine-volume history is the most ambitious publishing
project ever undertaken in the western United States. His seven-volume
History of California for the years its covers (1542-1890)
is still the foundation study, the first source for any serious research.
Legendary in their length, the footnotes alone make his history worth its
weight in factual and bibliographic gold, and his list of over one thousand
“Authorities Quoted” is an invaluable aid. Bancroft saw in his publication
a great western epic comparing himself to Homer with one notable exception:
“Homer dealt in myth,” he wrote, “I should deal in facts; Homer’s were
the writings of poetical genius, mine of plodding prose.”
——Gary F. Kurutz
Additional sources consulted: John Walton Caughey, Hubert Howe Bancroft, Historian of the West (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1946); Kevin Starr, Americans and the California Dream, 1850-1915 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973), pp. 115-19; Franklin Walker, San Francisco’s Literary Frontier (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1939), pp. 302-315.
Complete set of Bancroft’s Works, handsomely bound—“Contains more material about California than can be found in any other history” (Huntington Exhibit).