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Auction 15: Fine Collection of Californiana Formed by Daniel G. Volkmann Jr.
The First Chip Off the Old Block
51. DELANO, A[lonzo]. Life on the Plains and among the Diggings; Being Scenes and Adventures of an Overland Journey to California: with Particular Incidents of the Route, Mistakes and Sufferings of the Emigrants, the Indian Tribes, the Present and the Future of the Great West. Auburn & Buffalo: Miller, Orton & Mulligan [Stereotyped by Derby and Miller, Auburn], 1854. 384 pp., wood-engraved frontispiece, 3 wood-engraved plates (engraved by Nathaniel Orr after sketches by Frederick M. Coffin). 8vo, original blind-stamped plum cloth, gilt-pictorial spine showing “Encampment.” Spine and gilt lettering faded, small voids along joints, lower corners slightly bumped, endpapers browned, lower hinge starting, text block split at pp. 194-195, overall a good to very good copy of a book difficult to find in decent condition. Contemporary ink ownership inscription of Charles P. Johnson on front flyleaf. Blue cloth slipcase.
First edition, first issue. Braislin 579. Byrd 28. Cowan I, p. 65. Cowan II, p. 163. Gaer, California Literature (Gold Rush), p. 23. Graff 1042. Groce & Wallace: “During the fifties [Orr] was one of the leading wood engravers in the country.” Hamilton, Early American Book Illustrators and Wood Engravers 504. Holliday 283. Howell 50, California 411. Howes D230: “One of the best ‘forty niner’ narratives.” Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 177a: “One of the great classics of the Overland Trail.” Mattes, Platte River Road Narratives 423. Mintz, The Trail 121. Norris 951. Plains & Rockies IV:238:1. Rader 1104. Rocq 6041. Sabin 19348. Streeter Sale 3176: “One of the best of the overlands, is quite scarce when, as here, it has no ‘Second Thousand’ or ‘Third Thousand’ or some higher figure at head of the title. This first issue and the ‘Second Thousand’ issue have on verso of title ‘Stereotyped by Derby and Miller, Auburn’ while the ‘Third Thousand’ issue has on the verso ‘Auburn: Miller, Orton & Mulligan, stereotypers and printers.’–TWS.” Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 57: “One of the most forceful accounts of the journey to and of adventure in the mines of California, by a gifted observer and writer.” Delano (1802?-1874), better known by his nom de plume “Old Block,” arrived in California after an overland journey from Saint Louis in the company of fifty men. Unlike many others, he had some success in mining and certainly had a great facility for telling their story, which makes this account so desirable. This work is the opening chapter of a very successful California writer.
Below is grouping of p. 9 with p.
52. [DELANO, Alonzo]. A Live Woman in the Mines;
or, Pike County Ahead! A Local Play in Two Acts. By “Old Block”....
New York: Samuel French, . 86 [i.e., 36] pp. 12mo, original gold
printed wrappers. Some chipping with loss, original stitching, wrapper
and title page separating from spine, interior fine. In a brown cloth
First edition, first issue (imprint without price). Cowan II, p. 163. Eberstadt 103:88. Eberstadt 134:123. Gaer, California Literature (Gold Rush), p. 56. Holliday 285. Howell 50, California 413. Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 178a. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 57n. “The plot of this play is founded on fact. The history of John and Mary Wilson is that of hundreds who have come to California–and their misfortunes and ultimate success is a type of what many others have experienced within the author’s knowledge” (p. ). Delano describes how he based all the characters on people he had met in the mining country.
53. [DELANO, Alonzo]. The Miner’s Progress; or, Scenes in the Life of a California Miner. Being a Series of Humorous Illustrations of the “Ups and Downs” of a Gold Digger in Pursuit of His “Pile.” Sacramento: Published at the Daily Union Office, 1853.  4-13 [1, blank] [2, ads] pp., 11 wood-engraved text illustrations by Charles Nahl. 8vo, disbound (lacking original wrappers, stabholes on left blank margins where removed from a bound volume). First and last leaves stained, some milder staining and light marginal browning to interior, lightly creased where formerly folded. Preserved in a blue cloth clamshell case.
First edition of classic Gold Rush humor; first separate publication by Alonzo Delano, and the second publication with Charles Nahl drawings. Byrd 30. Cowan II, p. 163. Gaer, California Literature (Gold Rush), p. 23. Greenwood 382. Hamilton, Early American Illustrators and Wood Engravers 1109 & I, p. xli: “Nahl’s...spirited sketches depicting the life of the miner in the days of the gold rush are extraordinarily good, although...his miners have something of a Tyrolian look.... [Nahl] was an excellent interpreter of the humor and pathos of early California life and...dominated the field of the graphic arts on the western coast.” Howell 50, California 410 & 1516: “Humorous quatrains illustrated by Charles Nahl. Delano’s sketches vividly depict the difficulties, disappointments, and triumphs of pioneering and mining, combining just the right amounts of realism, philosophy, and humor. Many of Delano’s works were illustrated by Nahl.” Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 179: “The Sacramento Union employed the literary talents of Delano and the artistic skills of Charles Nahl to produce this delightful satire. In addition to this single publication, The Miner’s Progress appeared as part of the July 4, 1853, issue of the Sacramento Pictorial Union.” Norris 949. Rocq 6043. Sabin 49214. Streeter Sale 2736. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 57n.