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

Lots 169 & 170: Husband & Wife Accounts of Early California

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169. SAINT-AMANT, Madame [Pierre Charles Fournier] de. Voyage en Californie 1850 et 1851. Navigation sur les deux océans; passage de l’Isthme de Panama; arrivée à San-Francisco. Suivi du Tarif des douanes en Californie. Paris: Garnier Frères, 1851. 48 pp. 8vo, original buff printed wrappers, title within ornamental border. Fragile wraps chipped, stained, and with one small hole, bookplate removed from inside of upper wrapper, internally fine.

    First edition. Cowan I, p. 197. Cowan II, p. 549. Graff 3637. Hill 1512: “Mme. de Saint-Amant[’s] Christian names seem to have eluded historians and bibliographers.” Howell 50, California 775. Howes S20n. Littell 905. Monaghan 1289. Palau 285059. Sabin 74988. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 174n. The author, whose husband served as French consul at Sacramento, has left us an unusual account of California and her voyage there from France via the Isthmus. This cultured, sensitive, and independent lady preceded her husband to California, sailing on the Servern as its only female passenger. Her descriptions of the voyage are animated and lyrical: “The sea in these regions is something magical, the evenings especially, it seems as if we are sailing in a sparkling furnace and that this great boat splits the waves so lightly and so stately, that one wonders if it is not flying in the air. I challenge the weariest of souls not to be moved at such a spectacle.”
    Arriving at Chagres in the latter part of April, she good-naturedly adapts to the hardships, wittily commenting: “Little did I think that I would be following in the footsteps of Humboldt, perched perilously on muleback navigating a dangerous precipice.” She describes the “pompously named Hôtel des Princes et des Ambassadeurs” in Panama City as nothing more than rude goat huts with outlandish prices. She assures her husband that her health has been very good and that she has taken all precautions “in a country where one can die with terrifying rapidity” of cholera, fever, or other diseases. Upon arriving in San Francisco, she delightedly describes the burgeoning city: “All of the nations of the world have rendezvoused in this vast camp that is assuredly the most beautiful anthill in the world” (p. 30).

170. SAINT-AMANT, [Pierre Charles Fournier] de. Voyages en Californie et dans l’Orégon. Paris: L. Maison, 1854. lii, 651 pp., 2 engraved maps: (1) Chemin de fer de l’Isthme de Panama [with inset of Panama City] (13.6 x 9.5 cm; 5-3/8 x 3-3/4 inches); (2) Orégon Territoire aux États-Unis... (20.5 x 26 cm; 8-1/8 x 10-3/8 inches), engraved text illustrations. 8vo, original blue-grey printed upper wrapper, new tan paper spine and lower wrapper. Wrapper somewhat darkened and soiled, vertical split in spine, edges slightly frayed, p. [vi] missing lower right corner costing some text in the footnote, scattered light foxing and browning, overall very good, untrimmed copy.
    First edition. Braislin 1603. Byrd 1603. Cowan I, p. 198: “This was, at that time, the most extensive and important work on this subject issued in the French language.” Cowan II, p. 549. Hill 1513. Howell 50, California 776. Howes S20. Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 552. Monaghan 1289. Palau 285061. Sabin 74989. Smith 8927. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 174 (cited as being of special importance): “Written by an official observer, this was the most extensive French work of the period on California, and much of it deserves translation.” Saint-Amant was also one of the great French chess masters of his time.

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