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Lot 22

“One of the earliest accounts of the diggings”—Streeter

22. BUFFUM, Edward. Six Months in the Gold Mines: from a Journal of Three Years’ Residence in Upper and Lower California. 1847-8-9. By E. Gould Buffum, Lieutenant First Regiment New York Volunteers. Philadelphia: [C. Sherman, Printer], Lea and Blanchard. 1850. 172, 24 (ads) pp. 12mo, original publisher’s blindstamped dark brown cloth, gilt-lettered spine. A few minor nicks to extremities, corners lightly bumped, but all in all a superb, bright copy of a book very difficult to find in decent condition. Later armorial bookplate of Chamberlain.

     First edition. Barrett, Baja California 389. Bradford 650. Byrd 7. Cowan I, p. 28. Cowan II, p. 83. Graff 472. Hill II:27: “Buffum took part in the occupation of Baja California as a lieutenant of the First Regiment New York Volunteers (Stevenson’s Regiment) during the Mexican-American War. When decommissioned, Buffum joined the California gold rush.” Howell, California 50:28. Howes B943. Norris 436. Plath 124. Rocq 15726. Sabin 9067. Streeter Sale 2613: “One of the earliest accounts of the diggings.” Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 28. Mostly on mining, but there are a few topics of ranching interest: Sutter’s livestock, abandonment of ranches when gold fever hit, “miner’s prices” for many items (including beef), observations on Spanish ranching and horsemanship in the section on Santa Barbara, etc.

Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 97:

E. Gould Buffum, an officer in the New York Volunteers, wrote in his introduction: “The following pages have been written currente calamo, in moments stolen from the cares of business, within sound of the click of hammers, the grating of saws, and all the noise, bustle, excitement, speculation, and confusion of San Francisco.” He went on to say: “They contain a narrative of my journey to, and life and adventures in, the gold region of California, during the autumn, winter, and spring of 1848-9.” Buffum starts his narrative with these picturesque words: “Armed with a pickaxe, shovel, hoe, and rifle, and accoutered in a red flannel shirt, corduroy pants, and heavy boots, and accompanied by two friends, I found myself...[headed for] the golden hills of the Sierra Nevada.” Bancroft calls his book: “One of the most important contributions to the history of California.” Observing the Gold Rush from its beginnings, he recounted every facet of life including the tremendous non-mining potential of California and formation of government. As Gudde points out, Buffum was the chronicler of Weber Creek and witnessed the hangings that gave “Hangtown” (Placerville) its nickname.

      Notice of his book appeared in the San Francisco Alta California for August 30, 1850. Buffum also wrote an important account of the gold excitement (dated June 20, 1849) for the New York Herald of July 28, 1849. In this article, he noted with eager anticipation: “We are awaiting with great anxiety, for the arrival of the Angelique, with her eight hundred tons of women.”


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