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Lot 63

63. [FLEMING, G. A.]. California: Its Past History; Its Present Position; Its Future Prospects.... London: [M’Gowan and Co., Printers, 16 Great Windmill Street, London] Printed for the Proprietors, 1850. viii, 270 pp., 7 leaves of engraved plates (including pictorial title and frontispiece), hand colored. 8vo, later three-quarter crimson polished calf over rose cloth, spine with raised bands and gilt lettering, mottled endpapers (signed binding by Bayntun of Bath, England). Minor shelf wear, front lower corner of binding slightly nicked, a bit of browning to blank margins of first and last sheets (due to contact with calf turn-ins), generally very fine. Pictorial title slightly shaved at lower margin, affecting lower portion of “1850” at end of imprint, otherwise the plates are excellent, with fresh color. No map in this copy, but with extra plates not always found with the book.


Frontispiece: Emigrant Party on the Road to California.

Pictorial title: The Emigrant’s Guide to the Golden Land, Shewing Him When to Go, Where to Go, How to Go. [mining scene on river] Scene on a Branch of the Sacramento. London. Printed for the Booksellers 1850. The pictorial title varies from that in the preceding entry, which commences: California Its Past History Its Present Position Its Future Prospects.... The illustration and all else is the same.

Town of Wellington—New Zealand.

Night—Tracing the Ship’s Progress. This scene is generic for either New Zealand or California.

Mid Day—Emigrants on Deck. This scene is generic for either New Zealand or California.

Encampment in the Valley of the Sacramento. This scene, which is specific to California, also appears in the preceding work.

Log House in the Sacramento Valley. This scene, which is specific to California, does not appear in the preceding work.

     First edition. See preceding. See also Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 243, another similar entry to preceding (Kurutz 242), but consisting of 48 pp., one plate, and with wrapper title beginning: The Emigrant’s Guide to the Golden Land...., as in the pictorial title in the present work. Kurutz comments in entry 243:

This wrapper-bound guide may have been a precursor of Fleming’s larger work. The frontispiece and engraved title exactly match the design of the Fleming work, but the wording of the title differs. The wrapper title more closely resembles the Fleming title. The text, however, only includes an introduction and two chapters without any mention of California’s “past history, its present position or its future prospects.” Its text is directed more to those going to Australia and New Zealand rather than California. Last, there are no plates beyond the frontispiece. A copy examined in a private collection was bound with the above described larger work.

     We can only surmise that in 1850 the present publishers and their binders were working overtime to meet the demand for emigration material on California and New Zealand. In their rush, they created a bibliographical confusion. It seems near impossible to find a copy of Fleming’s work with all the plates and the map, and it has even been suggested that the New Zealand plates sometimes found with the book were simply a dreadful mistake by the binders. It may be the only way to obtain all the plates and the map found in the various permutations of this work is to acquire more than one copy. It is certainly worthwhile to have the variations if one is attempting to sort out the bibliographical aspects of the book. For the record, between the preceding work and the present one, the only two plates not present listed by Kurutz are: Encampment of Settlers Travelling to the Station (possibly a generic emigration scene) and Banks of the River Hutt (a New Zealand scene). ($750-1,500)

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