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

Lots 65 & 66: When Men Were Men

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65. DOWNIE, William. Hunting for Gold: Reminiscences of Personal Experience and Research in the Early Days of the Pacific Coast from Alaska to Panama. San Francisco: California Publishing Company, 1893. 407 pp., photographic frontispiece of author, photographic and line-drawn text illustrations (many full-page). 8vo, original green gilt-lettered cloth, beveled edges. Except for light wear to spine extremities and corners, very fine and fresh.
    First edition, mixed issue (covers stamped as in “Deluxe edition” per Kurutz). Blumann & Thomas 4443. California Printing II, 4: “Chris M. Waage...was hired to put the narrative to an acceptable literary form. He succeeded well, for the text is clearly written, and the narrative remains compelling ninety years later. The book was issued over the imprint of The California Publishing Company of San Francisco (reputedly underwritten by Charles De Young). More than fifty illustrations add visual documentation to the story; some are reproduced from early engravings of California scenes, but most are reproduced as half-tone illustrations from paintings and photographs” (Hanff). Camp 185. Cowan I, p. 71. Cowan II, p. 179. Eberstadt 138:205: “The author was the first white man to cross from the coast to Fraser River. His narrative deserves a place among the best of Pacific Coast pioneer reminiscences.” Graff 1143. Howell 50, California 438: “One of the finest reminiscences of mining life...many interesting illustrations and photographic reproductions.” Howes D448: “Unassuming but valuable reminiscences.” Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 203. Littell 290. Norris 997. Rocq 14507. Streeter Sale 3016. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 64: “One of the more important volumes of Gold Rush reminiscence, by the discoverer of the rich diggings at Downieville.”
    The interesting history of a Scot who managed to make a fortune in the goldfields and had the town of Downieville named after him, a town that though now almost totally deserted lives in infamy as the scene of Juanita’s hanging for murder in 1851 (pp. 145-153). The work also includes unusual chapters on Downey’s searches for gold in Panama and the Yukon. Finally, the work contains a matter of medical interest: On p. 292 is a report of an early and apparently correct postmortem diagnosis of a myocardial infarction, a condition not formally diagnosed in the U.S. until 1912.

66. DU PONT, [Samuel Francis]. Official Dispatches and Letters of Rear Admiral Du Pont, U. S. Navy. 1846-48. 1861-63. Wilmington: Press of Ferris Bros., Printers, 1883. [4] 531 pp. 8vo, original brown cloth, beveled edges. Old call number on spine painted over, spine extremities and corners lightly worn, light damp staining to endpapers and upper blank margins. Ink stamp of San Francisco Theological Seminary on front pastedown, title page, and one text leaf. Rare, privately printed account.

    First edition, limited edition (supposedly only fifty copies were printed). Cowan II, p. 843. Eberstadt 132:174. Garrett, Mexican-American War, p. 207. Howes D589. Kurutz & Mathes, The Forgotten War, p. 133. Nesser 7599. Nevins, Civil War Books I:223. Smith, Civil War 761. Tutorow 4098. Printed by Du Pont’s widow, this book, according to Eberstadt, is even rarer than Du Pont’s 1885 Extract, of which it is the basis. DuPont commanded the Cyane off the California coast during the Mexican-American War and was instrumental in securing the Californias under U.S. control. The vast majority of the documents here were written from the Wabash off Port Royal, S.C., and concern his Civil War service.

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