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Lot 8

“The first set of illustrations by Charles Christian Nahl for a full-length book”—Kurutz

8. BENTON, J[oseph] A[ugustine]. The California Pilgrim: A Series of Lectures, By J. A. Benton, Pastor of the First Church of Christ in Sacramento. Sacramento: Solomon Alter, Publisher; San Francisco: Marvin & Hitchcock, San Francisco. 1853. 261 [1, blank] pp., 6 wood-engraved plates. 12mo, original black cloth, spine gilt-lettered Head of spine snagged and with one small chip, corners nicked, front hinge cracked (but strong), endpapers and a few leaves a bit dusty (easily cleans up), a very good copy.

     First edition. Book Club of California, California Printing, p. 8: “Written in imitation of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress...first Protestant book to be published in California. Reverend Benton warns of the dangers of gold fever and, in highly allegorical language, describes many California gold rush personalities and events, including the burning of Sacramento.” Bradford 356. Cowan I, p. 16. Cowan II, p. 49. Greenwood 378. Holliday 75. Littell 59. Norris 271. Rocq 6622.

Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 49:
According to the prefatory note, Reverend Benton conceived the idea of these allegorical lectures on California life while on a visit to the country. He wrote: “The burning of Sacramento occurred during the delivery of the lectures.” Topics included arrival in San Francisco, visit to Stockton, Sacramento, election day, Sacramento burned, mining towns, Yankee Jim’s, the origin of gold, and a journey to Grass Valley. Each chapter concluded with a moral. The wood engravings are the first set of illustrations by Charles Christian Nahl for a full-length book.

     Charles Nahl (1818-78), the “Cruikshank of California,” joined the Gold Rush in 1850 and became one of the first resident California artists of significance. His work vividly captures the disappointments and triumphs of mining and pioneering life, blending realism, pathos, and humor. Hamilton, Early American Book Illustrators and Wood Engravers, pp. 190-92. ($150-300)

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