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Lot 52

Albumen photographs of two Pioneer Gold Rush Photographers

52. DORNIN, George D. 1849-1879 Thirty Years Ago. George D. Dornin. [Berkeley, 1879]. [4], 62 pp., 2 mounted albumen photographs: [1] portrait with caption, Geo. D. Dornin August 8, 1879; [2] Untitled portrait of George O. Kilbourne. From a Daguerreotype by Kilbourne. Nevada City, Nov. 14, 1852. 8vo, original green cloth, spine and upper cover gilt lettered, bevelled edges. Minor wear to spine extremities, slight wrinkling of front cover, a few spots on lower cover. Last signature detached, otherwise the interior very fine. The photographs are in excellent condition—crisp and strong . Half dark green levant morocco and green cloth slipcase.

      First edition. Cowan I, 71Cowan II, p. 178. Kurutz, California Books Illustrated with Original Photographs 1856-1890 #84. Howes D429.

Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 200:

These privately published reminiscences, dated November 1879, were written for Dornin’s children. Dornin stated that he lost his “log-book” and letters in the Grass Valley fire of 1855. He was eighteen when he heard of the gold excitement and booked passage on the ship Panama headed from New York around Cape Horn. The young gold seeker described in some detail the preparations for the voyage. He left on February 2, 1849, and arrived in San Francisco on August 8, 1849. While in San Francisco, he survived by painting signs including “wooden gravestones.” Tiring of this, he opened the “City Half Lunch” restaurant and then made his way to Sacramento in 1850. After a short stay, he returned to San Francisco, and with Henry I. Beers, opened a general merchandise business on Jackson street. The May 1851 fire destroyed everything, so he went back to sign painting. Additionally, he reported on the Vigilance Committee of 1851 and then headed off for Nevada City. There, he went into a partnership with a George O. Kilbourne, who was pursuing the business of daguerreotyping. Dornin, himself, took up the new trade and opened his own daguerrian gallery in Grass Valley in the summer of 1853.

      Dornin’s recollections also appeared in The Pioneer and Historical Review, Vol. XIV, No. 12 (December, 1899), pp. 152-157 as “Early Reminiscences.”


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