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Auction 15: Fine Collection of Californiana Formed by Daniel G. Volkmann Jr.
Rare Sonoma Imprint–One of Two Known Copies
With Ink Rubric of Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo
ALTA CALIFORNIA (Mexican Territory). COMANDANTE (Mariano Guadalupe
Vallejo). [Broadside commencing]: El Comandante General de la Alta
California. Calyfornyos: El gobierno frances que mas de un año...ha
declarado la guerra.... [Sonoma, June 12, 1839]. 43.5 x 31.5 cm;
17-1/4 x 12-3/8 inches. Large and fine woodcut of Mexican eagle at top,
ink manuscript rubric of Vallejo below. Matted in plexiglas frame, broadside
affixed to mat. Creased where formerly folded, light foxing, ink inscription
First printing of a rare specimen of early California printing on Zamorano’s press at Sonoma by an unknown printer. After Vallejo moved Zamorano’s Ramage press from Monterey to his headquarters at Sonoma, only thirteen imprints were created. AII, California 41. Cowan, Spanish Press, p. 26. Fahey 53. Greenwood 54. Harding 53. Howell 50, California 241 (this copy): “One of two known copies [Bancroft and this copy].” This early California imprint is a broadside calling for the populace to unite to resist French aggressions and warlike acts in the wake of French bombardments of Fort San Juan de Ulúa and Veracruz during the Pastry War. The Pastry War takes its name from a claim by a French baker in Tacubaya whose shop was invaded by Mexican soldiers who locked him in a back room and devoured all his pastries and then refused to pay for them. The aggrieved baker appealed to his government for relief, and by the time the situation had finished escalating, French warships were off the coast of Mexico, not so much to assist the poor baker as to enforce their national financial demands. It was independent Mexico’s first brush with a foreign power. Vallejo, clearly in an exposed position next to the Pacific Ocean and aware of French actions off the eastern coast of Mexico, here warns Californianos that it is possible that they may expect the same.
The imprint bears the ink manuscript rubric of leading Californiano Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo (1808-1890). Although born into Californian and Mexican aristocracy, Vallejo spent most of his life rebelling against Mexican institutions and embracing the more liberal government espoused by the United States, which he admired. Only three years before this French threat, Vallejo himself had threatened Mexican authority when he and his nephew proclaimed California a free state independent of Mexico. As is obvious in this broadside, however, he would brook no interference in Mexican affairs from a European power. Although he welcomed the yanqui invasion of California, he was thrown into prison for two months during the Bear Flag revolt. The absorption of the area into the U.S. after the Mexican-American War tremendously reduced the financial and political circumstances of both Vallejo and his fellow Californianos, and he died with only 200 acres left of what had once been vast land holdings.
22. CALIFORNIA (Territory). GOVERNOR (Bennet Riley). Proclamation to the People of the District of San Francisco. [San Francisco or Monterey, California, 1849]. Broadside: 33 x 22.5 cm; 13 x 9 inches. Folio, printed in two columns. Creased where folded with voids and splits along fold lines affecting a few letters, moderately browned and stained, with contemporary ink math computations on verso and Streeter’s pencil notes on recto. Streeter’s printed book label on verso. Preserved in a red cloth slipcase and chemise. Provenance: Grabhorn–Thomas W. Streeter–John Howell-Books.
AII, California 94. Fahey 119. Greenwood 121 (locating only this
and the Bancroft copy). Streeter Sale 2556 (this copy). Wagner, California
Imprints 32 (unable to locate a copy). Apparently one of only two
known copies. Riley, acting as military governor of California, denounces
in this June 4, 1849, proclamation an illegal “Legislative Assembly
of the District of San Francisco,” stating that they have usurped powers
reserved to the U.S. government by such acts as seizing the alcalde’s
public records and defying Riley’s authority. He calls upon all citizens
to support the legitimate government and generously states that he believes
the misguided citizens acted “through the impulse of the moment.” Riley
(1787-1853) was the military governor of California who guided the area
into becoming a U.S. territory and helped create California’s first