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Lot 66

Jessie under Wraps

66. FRÉMONT, Jessie Benton. A Year of American Travel by Jessie Benton Frémont. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers Franklin Square, 1878. 190, [2] pp. 24mo (12.2 tall), original tan printed wrappers, stitched, upper wrapper printed in red and black [at top above red line border]: Price Twenty-five Cents [red: HARPER’S HALF-HOURS SERIES. [double rule] [black] A YEAR OF AMERICAN TRAVEL BY JESSIE BENTON FRÉMONT [double rule] [publisher’s device in red]: HB [below border in black]: Copyright 1877 by Harper & Brothers. Spine, printed in black: A YEAR OF AMERICAN TRAVEL. Minor chipping to delicate wrappers with small losses (affecting only the border), otherwise very fine. Ecru cloth clamshell case with black gilt-lettered morocco spine label. The book is rare, but exceedingly so in wraps (not noted by Kurutz).

     First edition.Cowan II, p. 848. Graff 1427. Howes F363: “Account of California in 1849, including three letters from her husband describing the horrors of his ill-fated last expedition.”Rocq 15815. Walker, A Literary History of Southern California, pp. 172-73: “As the coauthor of Frémont’s report [Jessie Benton Frémont] exerted as much influence on expanding America as any woman of her day.”

Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 255:

Jessie Benton Fremont, the illustrious wife of John, traveled to California via the Isthmus of Panama in April 1849 to meet her husband. The coincidental events of the California gold discovery combined with her own travel adventures make her recollections doubly interesting. In this pocket book, Jessie included a fine description of crossing the Isthmus and her seven-week stay in Panama City as gold fever visited the region. While there, she also received letters from John and news of his overland difficulties. She published his letters in this book. Although ill, she boarded the steamer Panama and arrived in San Francisco in May. The city’s cold winds affected her now weakened lungs, and after a brief stay, Jessie moved to the “softer climate” of Monterey and San Jose. Throughout these recollections, Jessie recorded in vivid detail not only her own affairs but also the Spanish customs of the region, domestic life, local politics, and the doings of her husband. On January 1, 1850, Jessie and John went back to New York via the Isthmus of Panama.

      Fremont’s travel adventures are part of Harper’s “Half-Hours Series.” Souvenirs of My Time (Boston, 1877) is an abbreviated version of her 1849 trip.


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