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Item 47. King’s Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada—“King was the first to climb the Sierra Nevada, and the first to write of the range in sunlight and storm”(Powell).
|47. KING, Clarence
(1842-1901). Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada.
Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1872.  292 pp. 12mo, original
green cloth, gilt-lettered spine, beveled edges. Lightly rubbed and
some outer wear (spine buckled, spinal extremities frayed), interior
very fine, overall a very good copy, with contemporary ink ownership
inscription (Wm. Martin, Port Richmond, Staten Island, New York).
First edition, first issue, publisher’s monogram on title, stereotyper’s notice not present. Cowan I, p. 130. Cowan II, p. 328. Currey & Kruska, Yosemite 224. Edwards, Enduring Desert, p. 143. Farquhar, Yosemite 12a. Holliday 608. Howell 50, California 568. Howes K148. Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 47. Libros Californianos, pp. 54-55 (Powell commentary): “The book consists of sketchy memories of his work in the Sierra with the California Survey, and affords a delightfully intimate view of the first extended exploration of the Sierra, and of California in that transitionary period that follows the gold-rush. King was an extraordinarily intelligent man, and wrote with a facility that gave his book a literary superiority”; p. 70 (Hanna list): “The classic in books on American mountaineering by one who knew the Sierra long before the automobile and summer vacationist penetrated its sequestered depths.” Neate, Mountaineering and Its Literature 420: “The great mountain classic of the U.S.A.” Norris 1950. Powell, California Classics, pp. 128-41. Walker, San Francisco’s Literary Frontier, pp. 286-90. Zamorano 80 #47. ($400-800)
Franklin D. Walker, in San Francisco’s Literary Frontier,
described King’s book as “probably the most exciting book ever written
about mountain-climbing.” James D. Hague, in writing an appreciation
of the geologist for the December 28, 1901, New York Evening Post,
praised his book calling it “a work of rare literary excellence and
charm, in which the lofty scientific view of Tyndall as a mountain
climber seems blended with the keen and witty perception of Bret Harte
as a social observer, merging the sublime and the ridiculous with exquisite
taste and fascinating grace.” As pointed out by Sierra Nevada historian
and bibliographer, Francis P. Farquhar, it was the only nonofficial
account resulting from the activities of Josiah D. Whitney’s California
State Geological Survey. Mountaineering is indeed a true classic
of Californiana, nature writing, and mountaineering.
——Gary F. Kurutz
Additional sources consulted: Francis P. Farquhar, Preface to Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1935); Lawrence Clark Powell, California Classics (Los Angeles: The Ward Ritchie Press, 1971), pp. 128-41; James M. Shebl, King, of the Mountains (Stockton: Pacific Center for Western Historical Studies, 1974); Kevin Starr, Americans and the California Dream (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973), pp. 179-81; Franklin D. Walker, San Francisco’s Literary Frontier (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1939), pp. 286-90; Thurman Wilkins, Clarence King: A Biography (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1958), pp. 132-49.