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

Lots 23-25: Early California Newspapers & Constitution

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23. CALIFORNIA (State). Constitution of the State of California. San Francisco: Printed at the Office of the Alta California, 1849. 16 pp. 8vo, disbound (traces of wrappers adhered to last page), old stab holes but original sewing present. Spine darkened by old adhesive stain, title page wanting narrow strip at lower left not affecting text, upper and lower part of title page darkened in blank margins, untrimmed, light foxing and age toning. With contemporary ink note on title page: “Printed by Theo Messerve.” In a half brown morocco slipcase and cloth chemise.
    First edition in book form, first issue of the constitution under which California entered the Union, and one of the early books printed in San Francisco (see Harvard Tercentennial Exhibition 5). This copy does not have the three-page “Address to the People” usually found but which apparently was added later. See Matthew P. Lowman, “The California Constitution of 1849,” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 63, pp. 25-30, who points out that many copies lack pp. 17-19, a situation most likely explained by the fact that copies were released before the “Address to the People” was ready. (For the 19-page issue, see Cowan I, p. 34. Cowan II, p. 140. Fahey 127. Graff 539. Greenwood 124. Jones, Adventures in Americana 245. Libros Californianos, p. 19 (Bliss & Wagner lists). Sabin 9998. Streeter Sale 2553). Wagner, California Imprints 37.
    “The text was a model of advanced, liberal, and democratic social and political thought” (Howell 50, California 46, citing the 19-page issue). Of the genius of this document and its framers, Bancroft concludes: “It was an instrument of which its makers might justly be proud; its faults being rather those of circumstance than of judgment” (California VI, p. 303-304). Bancroft notes that $10,000 was expended to quickly produce 1,000 bound copies in English and 250 in Spanish of this document and that in days it had been widely distributed to mining camps and ranchos (p. 305-306). Greenwood reports 8,000 copies of the English version were printed.

24. [CALIFORNIA]. The California Star. Yerba Buena [San Francisco], vol. 1, no. 9, March 6, 1847. [4] pp., printed in three columns. Small folio. Very light foxing and one mild waterstain at lower left, old stitch holes at left blank margin, overall very good. Preserved in half brown hard-grain morocco and brown cloth slipcase and chemise. Laid in is TLs of Warren Howell to Mrs. Daniel Volkmann regarding the history of California newspapers.
    First edition of a very early issue of San Francisco’s first newspaper, edited by Samuel Brannan. Fahey, p. 134. Kemble, p. 276. Kurutz & Mathes, The Forgotten War, p. 127. This issue contains many interesting details relating to the transition of California from Mexican to U.S. rule: notice of Kearny’s appointment as governor; designation of Monterey as new seat of the government of California; Frémont ordered to Monterey; Shubrick and Kearny’s circular that the President of the U.S. wishes to “secure to the people of California a share of the good government and happy civil organization enjoyed by the people of the U.S. and to protect them...from the attacks of the foreign foes”; proclamation prohibiting enslavement of California Indians; conquest of New Mexico; and establishment of legislative council by the citizens of Yerba Buena.

25. [CALIFORNIA]. The California Star. San Francisco, vol. 1, no. 34, August 28, 1847. [4] pp., printed in three columns. Small folio. Very light foxing and some moderate to heavy stains on first and last pages, old stitch holes at left blank margin, creased where folded, overall good to fair.
    First edition of a very early issue of San Francisco’s first newspaper, edited by Samuel Brannan. Fahey, p. 134. Kemble, p. 276. Kurutz & Mathes, The Forgotten War, p. 127. Nearly one-third of this issue is taken up with a very early detailed report and statistics concerning San Francisco. Among the figures given are that there are 459 inhabitants, the majority of them male and born in the U.S. Only 38 people are listed as having been born in California itself; 4 were born at sea. White males are most frequently employed as carpenters (26) or laborers (20). There is only one minister, one schoolteacher, and one brewer. In the previous year thirty “poor affairs” of houses were built. The author confidently predicts that San Francisco will surpass Monterey in all aspects. This census by “E. G.” is certainly an early, if not the earliest, statistical description of the city after the U.S. takeover. Also included are various Mexican-American War news items, including a brief report on the Battle of Agua Frio.

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