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Lot 46

“One of the best of the overlands, quite scarce”—Streeter

46. 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. By A. Delano. Auburn & Buffalo: [Stereotyped by Derby and Miller, Auburn, for] Miller, Orton & Mulligan, 1854. 384 pp., 4 wood-engraved plates, including frontispiece, The Overland Route (covered wagon scene on the overland trek), engraved by Nathaniel Orr after sketches by Frederick M. Coffin. 8vo, mid-twentieth three-quarter dark green sheep over green cloth, spine gilt lettered and with gilt stamped Western motifs (buffalo and arrow and tomahawk), green marbled endpapers Joints rubbed, corners bruised with some abrading at tips, interior with scattered mild to moderate foxing and staining. Contemporary pencil ownership note of J. M. Campbell. Los Angeles bookman Jake Zeitlin’s pencil note at front with Streeter and Wagner-Camp numbers and “First issue.”

     First edition, first issue. Braislin 579. Byrd 28. Cowan I, p. 65. Byrd 28. 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, California 50:411. Howes D230: “One of the best ‘forty niner’ narratives.” 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.

Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 177:

Alonzo Delano, a native of Auburn, New York, resided in Ottawa, Illinois at the time of the gold discovery. He left on April 5, 1849 with a company of fifty men, crossed the Missouri River at St. Joseph, and entered California via the Lassen Trail. Delano then made it to the Feather River on September 9 with $4 in his pocket. While providing what has become one of the great classics of the Overland Trail, Delano also wrote in detail about his adventures in the mines and the general conditions of newly-arrived emigrants, miners, and Indians. During these first years in California, Delano spent much time in Sacramento, the mines of the Yuba River (making $600 in only two weeks), Marysville, the Gold Lake country, Nelson's Creek, and finally San Francisco.


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