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

Lots 190-192: Swedish & Scottish Circumnavigations, Emigrant’s Guide

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190. SIMPSON, George. Narrative of a Journey Round the World during the Years 1841 and 1842. London: Henry Colburn, 1847. xi [1] 438 + vii [1, blank] 469 pp. (24 pp. of inserted ads in vol. 1 not present), engraved frontispiece portrait, folded lithographed map with route of voyage in red (Map Shewing the Author’s Route... [below neatline]: London Published by H. Colburn, 13 Gt. Marlborough St. 1847 | J. Netherclift & Son Lithog. 22.2 x 62.5 cm; 8-3/4 x 24-5/8 inches). 2 vols., 8vo, late nineteenth-century three-quarter brown sheep over marbled boards, spine with raised bands and gilt-lettered dark green morocco labels, matching marbled endpapers, t.e.g. Binding scuffed (minor losses at extremities of spines and corners), a few clean splits at map folds, overall very good. Bookplates of Robert Wetherill, Jr., on front free endpapers.
    First edition. Cowan I, pp. 215-216. Cowan II, p. 589: “A model record of travels by an exceedingly able man and keen observer.” Forbes, Hawaiian National Bibliography 1670. Gagnon 3316. Graff 3786. Hill 1572. Howell 50, California 1632. Howes S495. Lada-Mocarski 129. Norris 3625. Plains & Rockies IV:140: “Sir George Simpson’s trip across Canada, made partially on horseback, and his sojourns in California and the Hawaiian Islands are described in Volume I; the second volume covers his trans-Siberian journey and return to Canada.” Sabin 81343. Staton & Tremaine 2548. Streeter Sale 3710 (vol. 2 misnumbering agreeing with this copy). Wickersham 4126. Simpson, who was Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s American territories, visited San Francisco, Monterey, and Santa Barbara, giving detailed descriptions of those ports during the last decade of Mexican rule in California. Despite having some mixed feelings about California, Simpson’s first impression, received before he had even made landfall, was one of a country rich in natural resources, where animals “were growing and fattening, whether their owners waked or slept, in the very middle of the winter.... Here, on the very threshold of the country, was California in a nutshell, Nature doing every thing and man doing nothing–a text on which our whole sojourn proved to be little but a running commentary” (vol. 1, p. 274).


A native of Scotland, George Simpson was employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company in Montreal in 1820 and, when the company incorporated the North-West Company in 1821, he was appointed governor of the northern department, serving in that post until 1856. Promoting and participating in extensive exploration of Canada west and north of Manitoba, he was responsible for the establishment of numerous Hudson’s Bay Company forts extending to the Pacific Coast and south to the Columbia River. In 1837-1839, Simpson participated in the continued three-century-long English fixation for the discovery of the Northwest Passage by sending his nephew Thomas Simpson with Peter Dease from Fort Chipewyan on Lake Athapaska, down the Mackenzie River, overland westward along the coast to Point Barrow, and back eastward to Great Bear Lake, down the Coppermine River, and along the coast to the Back River in front of Victoria Island.
    In 1841 Simpson was knighted by Queen Victoria and in March sailed from Liverpool to Canada and proceeded overland by canoe and portage to Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River, where he boarded the company steamship Beaver to inspect coastal posts. In September he visited Fort Simpson, Fort Stikine, and Fort Durham, and was well received in the Russian post of Sitka. Returning southward to Fort Vancouver in November he sailed to San Francisco, Monterey, and Santa Barbara on the Cowlitz. In January 1842, Simpson sailed for Hawaii, returning to Sitka in April and, following administrative work on the British Columbia coast, sailed back to the Russian post. In May, aboard the Aleksandr, he headed for Okhotsk where he landed in June. Continuing overland, Simpson crossed Siberia, reaching London in October. Far more than a mere company executive, Simpson was an extraordinary asset to the Hudson’s Bay enterprise and as rugged as his traders and trappers.

––W. Michael Mathes

191. SIMPSON, Henry I. The Emigrant’s Guide to the Gold Mines: Three Weeks in the Gold Mines; or, Adventures with the Gold Diggers of California in August, 1848. Together with Advice to Emigrants, with Full Instructions upon the Best Method of Getting There, Living, Expenses, etc., etc., and a Complete Description of the Country with a Map and Illustrations. By Henry I. Simpson, of the New York Volunteers. New York: Joyce and Co., 1848. 30 [2, publisher’s ads] pp., 4 wood-engraved text illustrations of miners and mining. 8vo, recent half brown levant morocco over tan cloth, spine lettered in gilt. Some light foxing to text, otherwise condition is fine. Lacking map and original wrappers not present.

    First edition. Bancroft, California VI, p. 97: “[Simpson] certainly tells large stories of riverbeds paved with gold to the thickness of a hand...but he printed a book on California gold in the year of its discovery, and this atones for many defects. Had all done as well as this soldier-adventurer, we should not lack for material for the history of California.” Braislin 1672: “Excessively rare.” Byrd 13. Cowan I, p. 216: “One of the earliest of the so-called ‘guides.’... Like others of its class it has the real merit of being rare. The map was not issued with all copies.” Cowan II, pp. 589-590. Eberstadt 128:500: “Copies with the map are especially hard to find, as it was issued separately.... When the news arrived of the discovery of gold, [Simpson] started, on the 18th of August, 1848, for the mines.” Graff 3788. Holliday 1001. Howes S497. Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 584a. Littell 943. Mintz, The Trail 425. Rocq 16063. Sabin 81347. Streeter Sale 2532: “One of the rarest of the early guides.” Turner 77. Vail, Gold Fever, p. 23. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 189: “Very early pamphlet.”
    “Dale Morgan wrote that this early eyewitness account was actually ‘an outright fraud.’ The New York Volunteers never listed Henry I. Simpson as one of its members, and most of the material was drawn from Colonel Mason’s well-known report or borrowed without credit from the New York Herald of December 13, 1848. Morgan further speculated that Bithell, the holder of the copyright, may have been the creator of this curious pamphlet. Dykstra in the epilogue to the 1978 edition characterized the guide as follows: ‘It is a fascinating exercise in market response, ignorance, imagination and plagiarism–assembled with remarkable celerity’” (Kurutz). Among the publisher’s ads are reviews of the forthcoming California Illustrated, Six Months among the Californiane by a New York Lawyer, Gold and Gold Diggings in all Ages and Countries, and The Unsettled Territories of the United States.

192. SKOGMAN, C[arl Johan Alfred]. Fregatten Eugenies Resa Omkring Jorden Åren 1851-1853, under befäl af C. A. Virgin. Stockholm: Adolf Bonnier, [1854-1855]. vi, 250 [1, plate list]; v [1, blank] 224 [3] pp., 6 engraved plates, 2 lithographs on tinted grounds, 18 chromolithographs, 3 folded lithographed tinted maps. 2 vols. in one, 8vo, original blue embossed and gilt-pictorial cloth (neatly rebound, original spine and covers preserved and laid down on new blue cloth; some loss to spine along joints), marbled edges, new endpapers. Slight offsetting from a few plates, otherwise a fine copy. 1902 ink signature of Gustaf Bioick on title page.

    First edition. Borba de Moraes, pp. 815-816. Forbes, Hawaiian National Bibliography 2051. Hill 1578: “Prized for its fine color plates.” Judd 173. Kroepelian 1196. O’Reilly & Reitman 1179. Palau 315082. Taylor, Pacific Bibliography, p. 83. The official record of the first Swedish circumnavigation, valued for its plates. There is one plate of California interest: Gamla Missions-Kyrkan i San Francisco [below image: C. S. | Lith. Jnst. Arnz & Co. Düsseldorf].

The Eugenie stopped briefly in 1852 at San Francisco, and the visit is described in vol. 1, chapter 10, with one chromolithographed illustration. California commerce and shipping are discussed in vol. 2, pp. 217-219. Skogman was an expedition astronomer.

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