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

Lots 188 & 189: One of the First Guidebooks & Rough Circumnavigating

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188. SHELVOCKE, George. A Voyage round the World by Way of the Great South Sea, Perform’d in the Years 1719, 20, 21, 22, in the Speedwell of London, of 24 Guns and 100 Men, (under His Majesty’s Commission to cruize on the Spaniards in the late War with the Spanish Crown) till she was cast away on the Island of Juan Fernandes, in May 1720; and afterwards continu’d in the Reccvery [sic], the Jesus Maria and Sacra Familia, &c. London: Printed for J. Senex...W. & J. Innys...J. Osborn & T. Longman, 1726. [8] xxxii [4] 468 pp., 4 copper-engraved plates, 2 of which are folded (Chilean chasing a bull, sea lions, California Native Americans), 1 folded copper-engraved map (A Correct Map of the World Describing Capt. Shelvock’s [sic] Voyage Round. 16 x 32 cm; 6-7/16 x 12-1/2 inches, double hemisphere map on two sheets, showing route and California as an island).

8vo, contemporary paneled calf, spine with maroon gilt-lettered label and raised bands (neatly rebacked with modern sheep, corners repaired). Title page a little soiled; a few light pencil annotations in text; map wrinkled, lightly stained, and with old repairs and ink signature of Wm. Mixson on verso; generally very good, with the plates by William Hogarth’s friend John Pine in fine impressions.

    First edition. Barrett 2261. Borba de Moraes, p. 796. Cowan I, pp. 211-212. Cowan II, pp. 581-582. European Americana 726/192. Hill 1557. Leighly, California as an Island 159. Mathes, California Colonial Bibliography 33. Sabin 80159. Wagner, Cartography of the Northwest Coast 530. Wagner, Spanish Southwest 88: “The whole history of this expedition is a curious commentary upon the morals of the times.” Account of a privateering voyage that immediately took an odd turn when Shelvocke decided to set out on his own. After many adventures, he managed to return to England a rich man. This work is famous for several reasons. The passage about an albatross on pp. 72-74 is conjectured to have inspired Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Shelvocke reports what some say may be the first discovery of gold in any part of California (pp. 400-401), although that discovery was never proven since the gold was lost in China. (The report of Drake’s voyage printed in Hakluyt [q.v.] also reports the discovery of gold and silver in California.)

Two of the plates are the second published images of Native Americans in California: An Indian of ye Southernmost parts of California as Returning from the Fishing & another on his Barklog [below neat line]: J. Pine sculpt. | Page 404. (15.2 x 9.2 cm; 6 x 3-5/8 inches) and Two California Women, the one in a Birds Skin the other in that of a Deer. [above neat line]: To follow Page 404 [below neat line]: J. Pine sculp. (15.2 x 18 cm; 6 x 7-1/8 inches).


Although the Treaties of Utrecht had resolved the War of Spanish Succession and installed Felipe V as monarch and founder of the Spanish House of Bourbon, Anglo-Spanish hostility, especially regarding Spain’s hegemony in the Caribbean, continued, and again English investors began outfitting of privateering voyages. In the wake of Woodes Rogers (q.v.), and hopeful of equaling or bettering his achievements, the Success and Speedwell under the command of John Clipperton, who had sailed with William Dampier, left Plymouth in February 1719. George Shelvocke, a former British navy lieutenant, captaining the Speedwell, was in constant conflict with Clipperton (both men were harsh and stubborn commanders), and shortly after departure the vessels separated, and the expedition was doomed to minimal success from the start. Following the established English route to the Pacific, Shelvocke was driven against the rocks at Isla Juan Fernández, losing three-fourths of his crew. Reconstructing a smaller vessel from the remains of his ship, Shelvocke had the fortune to capture the Jesús María off the coast of Perú, and, coasting Guatemala, he took the Sagrada Familia. On the coast of New Spain, he rejoined Clipperton and the Success, and both ships futilely attempted to take the Manila galleon as it left Acapulco. Proceeding northward, Shelvocke reached Cabo San Lucas in August 1721, remaining for five days before continuing across the Pacific, rounding the Cape of Good Hope, and returning to Plymouth in 1722.

    While his sojourn in California was much shorter than that of his predecessors, Shelvocke made ethnographic and geographic observations, included in his narrative. Many of these contradict Rogers and Edward Cooke (q.v.), and are generally negative in nature; however, much material is clearly extracted from the earlier descriptions. He also included two engraved plates that are the second published images of California Indians, depicting Pericú men fishing with a raft and harpoon and women in capes armed with a bow and arrows. Shelvocke’s texts were sharply criticized by his captain of marines, William Betagh, in A Voyage Round the World (London, 1728), thereby giving rise to revisions by Shelvocke’s son in the 1757 edition.

––W. Michael Mathes

189. SHERWOOD, J. Ely. California: Her Wealth and Resources; With Many Interesting Facts Respecting the Climate and People; The Official and Other Correspondence of the Day, Relating to the Gold Region; Colonel Mason’s Report, and All That Part of the President’s Message Having Reference to the Country in Which These Vast Discoveries Have Been Made; Also, a Memorial Offered in Congress, in Relation to the Proposed Railroad to the Pacific Ocean... [title on upper wrapper]: California: And the Way to Get There; With the Official Documents, Relating to the Gold Region, Including Col. Mason’s Report, and Other Authentic Information Connected with the Subject... [lower wrap]: We add the following excellent suggestions, which we find in the New-York Herald, for the benefit of those who design to cross the Isthmus; our book without them would be incomplete.... New York: George F. Nesbitt, Stationer and Printer, Corner of Wall and Water Sts., 1848. 40 pp. 8vo, original goldenrod printed wrappers, title within ornate typographical border, old stabholes where formerly bound, modern stitching. Backstrip lacking, slight breaks and a few chips to wraps (small losses at blank corners), mild marginal browning and age toning to text, but generally very good. Preserved in a black morocco over black cloth folding case. Provenance: Littell-Hersholt-Doheny copy, with their book labels and bookplates.

    First edition. Bradford 4956. Braislin 1660: “Excessively rare, especially in wrappers.” Byrd 12. Cowan I, p. 212: “On the last page is a rather clever poem, ‘Song of the Gold Diggers.’” Cowan II, p. 583. Doheny Sale 285 (this copy). Eberstadt 104:44. Holliday 994. Howes S408: “One of the earliest publications evoked by the gold discovery.” Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 581a: “In addition to the information and reports listed in the title, Sherwood’s guide includes letters from Thomas Larkin, Walter Colton, and the director of the U.S. mint; a description of the gold region from Lt. Loeser (bearer of dispatches from Governor Mason); an article from the New York Sun on the manner of reaching California; and a description from a correspondent at New Helvetia, dated June 30, 1848.” Littell 937 (this copy). Plains & Rockies IV:155a. Plath 989. Rocq 16055. Sabin 80440. Streeter Sale 2531: “This is one of the first printed guides to California, issued after the gold discovery became known in the East.... Sherwood got out another ‘guide’ early the next year.” Turner 76. Vail, Gold Fever, p. 22. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 187n.
    Sherwood opens with a letter Kurutz describes as “fabulous,” dated from Sutter’s Fort, August 11, 1848: “When I last wrote to my friends at home, I was a quiet and pains-taking merchant of San Francisco.... No sooner, however, had the news reached us of the discoveries at Marshall’s, than I was instantly deserted by my clerks, and even my French-Canadian cook, who boasts of having made all imaginable dishes to suit the dainty palate of one or other of the Iturbide family in Mexico, cut stick and ran, leaving me ‘alone in my glory.’ What, in this emergency to do? Nobody would serve me in my hour of need – I therefore followed the example of my neighbors, and here I am, up to my ‘flanks’ in mud, water, &c., with a curiously shaped trowel in one hand, and a ‘cradle’ in the other, scraping and splurging, and hauling up lumps of gold at each endeavor. I have, so far, got together about two thousand five hundred dollars worth of gold, and have only been at work a month.”

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