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Auction 15: Fine Collection of Californiana Formed by Daniel G. Volkmann Jr.

Lots 113-115: Gold Rush Overlands

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113. JOHNSON, Theodore T. Sights in the Gold Region, and Scenes by the Way. New York: Baker and Scribner, 1849. xii, 278 [2, blank] pp. 8vo, original blue blind-stamped cloth, spine gilt-lettered. Slight tear at upper spine extremity, very light foxing, old name in pencil on p. [v], otherwise fine. Thomas W. Streeter’s copy, with his bookplate on front pastedown and extensive handwritten notes on front free endpaper.
    First edition. Byrd 44. Cowan I, p. 122. Cowan II, p. 315. Graff 2223. Hill 895. Howell 50, California 126. Howes J154. Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 363a: “One of the earliest, liveliest, and most detailed accounts of the Gold Rush.” Mintz, The Trail 260. Plains & Rockies IV:167g:1. Rocq 15884. Sabin 36328. Streeter Sale 2575. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 112: “One of the earliest published accounts by an actual ‘returned Californian,’ who asserts that he ‘visited California to dig gold, but chose to abandon that purpose rather than expose his life and health in the mines.’” Johnson began his journey on February 5, 1849, on board the steamer Crescent City, sailed for Panama City, and entered San Francisco Bay April 1. His narrative includes observations of camps and towns, prominent individuals (including Sutter), Native Americans and mistreatment of them, Peruvians, social life, mining methods, and the natural wealth of California. The scene was so wild, however, that he decided in the end to return home, declaring “it is not unreasonable to conclude, that a similar distaste for the life and habits necessarily prevalent in such a confused state of society, will induce others, and especially heads of families, to return to the regular occupations to which they have been heretofore accustomed at home” (p. 231).

114. JOHNSTON, William Graham. Experiences of a Forty-Niner, by Wm. G. Johnston, a Member of the Wagon Train First to Enter California in the Memorable Year 1849.... Pittsburgh, 1892. 390 pp., frontispiece halftone portrait of author (from a daguerreotype made in 1848), 13 halftone plates (portraits and scenes), folded blueprint map by Stewart Johnston (untitled map of route from Independence, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, with inset at upper right: United States West of Mississippi River Showing political divisions in 1849; 22.2 x 82 cm; 8-3/4 x 32-1/4 inches). 8vo, original dark olive green cloth, upper cover gilt-stamped 1849 within diamond border, title gilt-lettered on spine, beveled edges, floral endpapers. Front joint split, a few minor spots to cloth neatly refurbished, otherwise fine with original tissue guards, the map perfect. Author’s signed presentation slip laid in. Preserved in a dark green cloth slipcase.

    First edition, limited edition (50 copies for private distribution, according to Mintz). Braislin 1067. Byrd 41. Cowan I, p. 122, Cowan II, p. 316. Eberstadt, Modern Narratives of the Plains & Rockies 252. Graff 2229. Heckman, Overland on the California Trail 191. Holliday 576. Howell 50, California 556: “One of the most readable of the overland narratives. Johnston’s party left Independence in April of 1849, and with Jim Stewart as their guide, traveled through Fort Bridger and Salt Lake City and arrived in Sacramento at the end of July. The author gives an account of his life in San Francisco, Sacramento and the mines, and concludes with his return to the East by sea.” Howes J173: “Overland narrative, in diary form, of the first emigrant train entering California in 1849.” Jones 1666. Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 364a: “Johnston privately published and distributed this highly regarded account. Approximately 200 copies were printed. After publication, Johnston mailed a blueprint map and a portrait of himself, asking the owners to tip the additions in to the volume. Apparently, not everyone complied, as many copies lack the map and the portrait.” Littell 570: “Rare.” Mattes, Platte River Road Narratives 511. Matthews, p. 316. Mintz, The Trail 261. Streeter Sale 3198. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 113.

115. KELLY, William. An Excursion to California over the Prairie, Rocky Mountains, and Great Sierra Nevada. With a Stroll through the Diggings and Ranches of That Country. London: Chapman and Hall, 1851. x, 342 + viii, 334 [2, ads] pp. 2 vols., 8vo, original green embossed cloth, spines gilt-lettered. Spines sunned, corners bumped, text blocks just starting to split at vol. 1, pp. 256-257, and vol. 2, 128-129, otherwise a very good copy. With bookbinder’s tickets of London’s Bone & Son on rear pastedowns.
    First edition. Blumann & Thomas 5025. Bradford 2807. Braislin 1092. Buck 453. Byrd 27. Cowan I, p. 129. Cowan II, pp. 325-326. Flake 4569. Graff 2298. Heckman, Overland on the California Trail 200. Howell 50, California 563. Howes K68. Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 370a. Mattes, Platte River Road Narratives 515. Mintz, The Trail 269. Plains & Rockies IV:200:1. Plath 648. Rocq 15895. Sabin 37231. Streeter Sale 2670. Vail, Gold Fever, p. 19. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 115: “Lively, entertaining and worthwhile narrative.”
    The record of a three-month journey from Liverpool to the goldfields, where he arrived in late July 1849. Although Kelly has left a lively, interesting account of his experiences in the U.S. and in California, his first remark upon viewing the American coast was, “I was exceedingly disappointed by the low, flat, naked appearance of the shore as we approached the land, without a natural beauty to meet the eye in any direction” (vol. 1, p. 8). The narrative continues in much the same unflattering vein throughout its course. In some ways, he is more approving of the Native Americans than he is of the Anglo-American citizens. In vol. 1, pp. 127-137, his encounter with the Sioux proves so satisfactory that he even practically falls in love with one woman of the tribe. Although he finds Sacramento charming, the way of life there appalls him, especially the “pandemoniums,” which he describes with some evenhandedness. Though profoundly disapproving of those who sacrifice so much to find gold, even he admits “that one of the strongest stimulants in my scribbling, was the desire of gaining gold” (vol. 2, p. 334), meaning, of course, the respectable kind that publishers pay their authors.

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