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

Lot 63

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Item 63. A Tour of Duty in California written by the grandson of Paul Revere, with lithographs after the author’s original art work—“One of the best descriptions of California and the Gold Rush” (Layne).

63. REVERE, Joseph Warren (1812-1880). A Tour of Duty in California; Including a Description of the Gold Region: And an Account of the Voyage around Cape Horn; with Notices of Lower California, the Gulf and Pacific Coasts, and the Principal Events Attending the Conquest of the Californias...Edited by Joseph N. Balestier.... New York: C. S. Francis & Co.; Boston: J. H. Francis, 1849. [4] vi [2, wood engraving “Design for the Arms of California”] 305 [1, blank] [6, ads] pp., 6 lithographic plates (including frontispiece) after Revere’s sketches, folding lithographic map: Harbour of San Francisco California. Sketched from Beechey’s Survey. By Joseph W. Revere U.S.N. Published by C. S. Francis & Co. N. York [below neat line at lower left]: Lith. of Wm. Endicott & Co. N. York, 30.5 x 25 cm (12 x 9-7/8 inches). 12mo, later three-quarter smooth tan calf over tan cloth, spine extra gilt with two gilt-lettered red leather labels, raised bands, t.e.g. Light outer wear and rubbing, intermittent mild to moderate foxing, one small closed tear at juncture of map and book block, generally very good to near fine.
First edition of “one of the most important books on the Gold Rush [which] figures on most selected lists” (Streeter Sale 2492). Barrett, Baja California 2092. Bennett, American Book Collecting, p. 102. Blumann & Thomas 5088. Cowan I, pp. 189-90: “One of the most valuable works of the period.” Cowan II, p. 530. Graff 3474. Hill, pp. 251-52. Holliday 923. Howell 50, California 208. Howes R222. Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 63. Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 529a. LC, California Centennial 125. Norris 3244. Peters, California on Stone, p. 119. Plath 917. Vail, Gold Fever, p. 22. Van Nostrand, The First Hundred Years of Painting in California, pp. 22, 118-19. Van Nostrand & Coulter, California Pictorial, pp. 52-53 (illustrating the plate “Quicksilver Mine—Near Santa Clara”). Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 165: “Outstanding illustrations of the early period.” Zamorano 80 #63 (J. Gregg Layne): “One of the best descriptions of California and the Gold Rush.”
The well-known firm of William Endicott & Co. of New York lithographed the original artwork of author-artist Revere. The plates are: “Sutter’s Fort—New Helvetia”; “Monterey, Capitol [sic] of California”; “Quicksilver Mine—Near Santa Clara”; “Monte Diablo—From the Sacramento River”; “A Ranchero Feat”; “A ‘Pui’ Day.” The Huntington Library owns some original artwork by Revere. See also Samuels & Samuels, Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West, p. 396. ($500-1,000)


Joseph Warren Revere, a grandson of Paul Revere and graduate of Annapolis, was a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy on the eve of the American conquest of California. His book ranks as an essential firsthand account of the takeover and life in California at that volatile time. It is filled with thoughtful analysis and conjecture on the future of California as it transitioned to American rule. He arrived in time to observe the full flavor of the region’s rich natural resources including the quicksilver mines, its rancho economy, the customs and manners of the Californios, and its many foreign settlers. Revere offered astute observations of the attitude of the Californios toward Mexico and the imminent prospect of American conquest.
When the Mexican War erupted and Commodore J. D. Sloat raised the American flag over Monterey, Revere swung into action. Assigned to the warship Portsmouth, he reported that he exchanged the quarterdeck for the saddle and took charge of the post at Sonoma garrisoned by Company B of the California Battalion of Mounted Riflemen. He was the first to raise the stars and stripes over the town’s plaza. With no fighting or real threats to speak of, Revere had the time to take leisurely tours of the countryside including an excursion around Clear Lake. According to H. H. Bancroft, Revere wrote the first description of that beautiful lake. Returning from one of his outings, Revere received the startling news that the Walla Walla Indians had invaded the Sacramento Valley and he wrote at length telling how Californios, Americans, and Indians pulled together to meet this crisis.
Following the conclusion of hostilities, Revere continued his exuberant enumeration of California’s abundant natural resources, its vast herds of cattle, its flourishing crops, and its rivers, lakes, and coast that afforded it an endless supply of “piscatory food.” He proclaimed: “A virgin empire has been added to the United States,” and he correctly predicted that “the seat of Empire on the Pacific, must, in the course of time, rival the seat of Empire on the Atlantic.” Such glowing words no doubt influenced prospective settlers from the eastern United States. Ever mindful of the consequences of change, Revere provided an extensive and important disquisition on California land titles, the historical background of land ownership during the Hispanic era, and the impact of Americanization on the vast Mexican land grants. He lamented that the issue of slavery held up California’s admission to the union and forestalled the establishment of a badly needed civilian government.
Because of the discovery of gold, Revere inserted a chapter on the rich auriferous fields which contained Colonel R. B. Mason’s famous report on the mines and extracts of letters from Thomas O. Larkin, Thomas ap C. Jones, and William Ritch. He opened this chapter by stating: “At the date of my departure from California, the vast deposits of gold had not been discovered. I had travelled over the richest placers a thousand times, but it had never occurred to me to wash the golden sands over which I travelled and upon which I slept.” Despite the fantastic reports he heard, Revere worried about the effect of gold fever on the moral fiber of California, writing: “She is without government, without laws, without a military force, while tens of thousands of adventurers from all parts of the earth are pouring into her golden valleys...[and they] will be transformed by the evil spirit of avarice...into knaves and men of violence.”
As demonstrated by the six beautifully tinted lithographs that grace the work, Revere was an artist of ability. They are a fine portrayal of pastoral California. In addition, his publisher supplied a map by Revere entitled Harbour of San Francisco Sketched from Beechey’s Survey. Joseph A. Sullivan’s Biobooks published a new edition, limited to 1,000 copies, in 1947, with the title Naval Duty in California.

——Gary F. Kurutz

Item 63. Lithograph of Sutter’s Fort after Joseph Warren Revere’s original art work.

Item 63. Lithograph of “A Ranchero Feat” after Joseph Warren Revere’s original art work.

Item 63. Yet another chart of San Francisco from Beechey’s influential rendering.