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Lot 30

“Probably the best-known map of California in the eastern states during the ‘fifties”—Wheat

30. CAPRON, E[lisha] S[mith]. History of California, from Its Discovery to the Present Time; Comprising also a Full Description of Its Climate, Surface, Soil, Rivers, Towns, Beasts, Birds, Fishes, State of Its Society, Agriculture, Commerce, Mines, Mining, &c. With a Journal of the Voyage from New York, via Nicaragua, to San Francisco, and Back, via Panama. With a New Map of the Country by E. S. Capron, Counsellor (sic) at Law. Boston & Cleveland: [Stereotyped by Hobart & Robbins, New England Type and Stereotype Foundry, Boston, for] John P. Jewett & Jewett, Proctor & Worthington, 1854. xi [1, blank], 356 pp., folding map. 12mo, publisher’s original blindstamped brown cloth, gilt pictorial spine with state seal of California. Slightly shelf slanted, spinal extremities frayed and chipped, covers faded and lightly spotted. Some scattered staining and foxing to interior. Map fine. Front free endpaper with blindstamp of Zoller & Cronehite’s Book, Drug & Variety Store in Little Falls, New York. Contemporary pencil ownership inscription of Euphany Barnhart.


California 1854. Published by J. H. Colton, No. 86 Cedar St. New York Entered according to Act of Congress in the Year 1853 by J. H. Colton in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York [inset] City of San Francisco. Lithographed map in full color, ornate border. Image area including border: 40 x 32 cm; 15-3/4 x 12-5/8 inches. Map has slight wrinkling at edges and a small tear at juncture with book block (no losses), otherwise excellent, with strong color retention.

     First edition of book; second issue of the Colton map (dated 1854 rather than 1853). Bradford 769. Braislin 328. Cowan I, p. 41. Cowan, II, p. 104. Graff 580. Hill II:254. Holliday 170. Howell, California 50:349: “Capron, a contemporary observer who arrived in California in 1853, devotes more than half of his book to a description of San Francisco and the gold mines.” Howes C127. Jones 1309. Littell 140. Rocq 16759. Sabin 10764. Wheat, Maps of the California Gold Region 254: “This is the same map as that listed as 1853—Colton, save for the change in date. It seems also to have been included in ‘Colton’s Atlas of the George W. Colton.’” In his note to the 1853 issue of the map, Wheat comments: “This was probably the best-known map of California in the eastern states during the ‘fifties. It was republished annually for a time, with little or no change.”

     The emphasis of the book is San Francisco and the Gold Rush. However, the author discusses mission cattle and the old ranchos of California (fandango, jueces del campo, branding, rodeo, corrals, lasso, saddles, expertise in horsemanship, management of cattle, etc.); mentions the hide and tallow trade in association with San Diego; gives statistics on livestock (cattle, horses, sheep, and goats); discusses grazing potential in general and the inferiority of the nearly wild native cattle. The lure of this once fairly common book (priced at $50.00 in the Howell catalogue) is in part due to the wonderful Colton map.

Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 116:

According to the preface: “In April, 1853, the author proceeded to California, as the commercial agent of several extensive mercantile houses in New York city. In the discharge of the duties of his commission, he visited the principal cities and villages of the state...He also traversed various parts of the mining regions, and sojourned with the miners, among their valleys and mountains.” In Part Second, Capron gives a description of San Francisco with details of its lurid side. Part Third is devoted to gold mines, mining, and miners. It consists primarily of lucid definitions of various mining techniques as well as descriptions of the miners’ court, miners’ home, and Chinese exclusion. The last portion of his book contains his well-written journal from New York to Nicaragua and California. Capron left on April 23, 1853, and arrived in San Francisco on May 21. He began the return trip on September 12.


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