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Lot 71

Exceptionally Rare Gold Rush Map & Guide

71. GERSTÄCKER, Fr[iedrich Wilhelm Christian]. [Wrapper title]: Preis 5 Sgr. Kaliforniens Gold U. Quecksilber-District. Nach: the California-Herald von Fr. Gerstäcker. 1849. [at lower margin above imprint: Dritte verbesserte Auslage]. Leipzig: Verlag v. Wilhelm Jurany, 1849. 32 pp. 8vo, original white printed wrappers with untitled wood-engraved map of Northern California on upper cover with table of distances from Monterrey (neat line to neat line: 19.2 x 14.7 cm; 7-1/2 x 5-3/4 inches). Spine neatly rebacked with sympathetic paper, wrappers darkened at top (and extending into first and last leaves), upper wrapper wanting small piece from lower blank margin (no loss), text with mild to moderate foxing and staining, paper reinforcement on p. [1] covering what appears to be an effaced stamp, a few leaves lightly waterstained in outer blank margin, overall a very good copy of a rare Gold Rush guide and Gold Region map. Contemporary inked letter “A” at bottom of upper wrapper.

     Third edition (three, or perhaps four, editions or issues came out in 1849; all are rare). Cowan I, p. 96. Cowan II, p. 234. Howes G138. Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 269: “This pamphlet by the German traveler is based on an issue of the California Herald published on December 16, 1849, and is essentially a guidebook. Gerstäcker provided information on crossing the Isthmus but recommended the Cape Horn route. He also warned Germans against the overland route. In addition to giving travel advice, the author described San Francisco and the gold region and provided quotations from various newspapers. Wright Howes states that there were three issues published that year.” Kurutz, Gold Rush Exhibit: “Gerstäcker’s slender guide is open to a beautiful untitled map of Northern California showing the gold district. The German traveler gave information on recommended routes and what to expect upon arriving in San Francisco and the mines.” Sabin 10017. Wheat, Maps of the California Gold Region 90.

     According to the text, the map was prepared by an American Army officer, Artillery Lt. Loeser, who bore Mason’s famous dispatch to Washington announcing the discovery of gold in California. The wrapper states (and Wheat confirms) that the map was taken from the New York Herald (December 26, 1848). In his note to the Herald, Wheat (Maps of the California Gold Region) refers to the map as “of exceptional rarity”) and attributes the map to Lieutenant Ord.

     Adventurer, traveller, and schlockspinner Friedrich Gerstäcker (1816-1872), a native of Hamburg, left Germany in 1837 for a six-year stay in the United States and began publishing accounts of life there after he returned to Germany. Although the present work is simply a reworked Herald account, Gerstäcker would go on to write his own first-hand account of California (q.v.), which he visited between September 1849 and November 1850. He prospected for gold and set up a store at Feather River. ($10,000-20,000)


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