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

Lots 216 & 217: Adventures in California & Whitney's Yosemite Book

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“A Masterful Combination of Important Scientific Data
and Fine Photography” (Kurutz)

216. WHITNEY, J[osiah] D[wight]. The Yosemite Book; A Description of the Yosemite Valley and the Adjacent Region of the Sierra Nevada, and of the Big Trees of California. Illustrated by Maps and Photographs. New York: Published by Authority of the Legislature; Julius Bien, 1868. 116 [2] pp., 28 albumen prints mounted on heavy card stock (by Carleton E. Watkins and William Harris), 2 folded lithographed maps: (1) Map of the Yosemite from Surveys Made by Order of the Commissioners to Manage the Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Big Tree Grove by C. King and J. T. Gardner, 1865. Drawn by J. T. G. [below neatline]: N.Y. Lithg. Engrg. & Prtg. Co. 16 & 18 Park Place (39.5 x 64 cm; 15-1/2 x 25-1/8 inches; forest area tinted in green); (2) Map of a Portion of the Sierra Nevada Adjacent to the Yosemite Valley from Surveys Made by Chs. F. Hoffmann and J. T. Gardner 1863-1867 [below neat line]: J. Bien, Lith. N.Y. (53 x 76 cm; 20-7/8 x 29-7/8 inches). Large 4to, original gilt-stamped brown cloth (skillfully rebacked with new spine and corners in dark brown calf, gilt-lettered red morocco spine label), a.e.g. Cloth slightly rubbed and faded, scattered foxing (including some of the plates), maps with some tears, first map with image loss along left side (approximately 2.5 x 23 cm; 1 x 9 inches). Francis P. Farquhar’s copy, with his penciled signature on front endpaper.

    First edition, limited edition (250 copies) of this oft-reprinted classic. Bradford 5811. Cowan II, p. 699. Currey & Kruska 60. Farquhar, Yosemite 7a. Kurutz, California Books Illustrated with Original Photographs 1856-1890 #88: “A masterful combination of important scientific data and fine photography. Carleton E. Watkins of San Francisco, the Pacific Coast’s premier landscape photographer, was called upon by Whitney to photograph the valley.... The format of The Yosemite Book was of such striking beauty that Julius Bien used it as a model for his publication of F. V. Hayden’s Sun Pictures of Rocky Mountain Scenery in 1870.” Graff 4646. Howell 50, California 929: “‘Among the first American books devoted entirely to photographs of landscape’ (Naef). Of the 28 photographs, 24 were taken by Carleton E. Watkins; the remaining 4 were done by W. Harris.... Watkins achieved great fame in the early period of landscape photography by systematically presenting the landscape as a wilderness untouched by man. He was among the first to present nature from a ‘deliberately assumed artistic posture’ (Naef). Whitney explains the limitation on the number of copies in a footnote on page 13 of his introduction: ‘As only a small number of prints could be obtained from the photographic artist, the number of copies of the illustrated volume...which could be issued was necessarily limited to 250.’” Howes W389. Naef, p. 71. Neate, Mountaineering and Its Literature 896. New York Public Library List 166. Rocq 5170. Truthful Lens, 185. One of the early and basic Yosemite books, the result of a survey in 1868 under the direction of Whitney, State Geologist of California, with Clarence King and James T. Gardner in the surveying party, and Carleton Watkins and W. Harris as photographers. Mount Whitney is named after the author.

217. WIGHT, Samuel F. Adventures in California and Nicaragua, in Rhyme. A Truthful Epic. Boston: Alfred Mudge & Son, 1860. 84 pp. 8vo, original purple cloth, title in gilt on upper cover. Spine faded and extremities chipped, lower corners bumped, otherwise a fine copy of a rare volume related to the Grey-Eyed Man of Destiny.
    First edition. Cowan I, p. 248: “The Adventures in Nicaragua were with the noted Gen. William Walker.” Cowan II, p. 683. Palau 375242. Sabin 103938. Leaving in 1854 to search for gold, Wight describes Sacramento and various other areas in California, which he left for Nicaragua, where a civil war was raging at the time of his visit. As did many other Argonauts, he returned to New York with a greater store of experience than of gold. His preface is a masterpiece of tongue-in-cheek literary wit: “Begging the pardon of honest readers for what may appear to be a culpable disregard of their good opinion, the author would earnestly solicit the attention of critics, in the reasonable hope, that a class of beings who had the acuteness to discover that Keats and Byron had mistaken their calling, will at once pronounce this work to be the culmination of poetic genius.”

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