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Lot 72

“The Shining Tempter, Gold”

72. [GOLD]. [DODD, George]. Gold: In the Mine, the Mint, and the Workshop. N.p., n.d. [London?, ca. 1852?]. 24 pp. 12mo, later plain grey wrappers. Early plain wrappers. Text browned adjacent to wraps, otherwise good. A single sheet signed H. Uncommon.

     First edition? This sheet was also issued as part of George Dodd’s The Curiosities of Industry and the Applied Sciences (London: George Routledge & Co., 1852), which was itself made up of discreetly published signatures on various topics that were assembled in the publication, to which a general title was added. The articles were all intended to popularize knowledge about various industrial processes and products, such as calculating machines, India rubber, gutta percha, printing cotton, steam power, wool & silk, chemistry of manufacture, fire & light, etc.

     After an opening paragraph briefly recounting the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill—of which discovery Dodd remarks that it has “set the whole world in commotion”—he proceeds to a brief review of the progress of gold mining in California, using such sources as Mason’s report. One of his conclusions is, “California has taught us a few strange things, and none stranger than the effect of the gold discoveries on prices” (p. 7). He then analyzes some of the uses to which gold is put, particularly everyday objects that are manufactured from it. In a somewhat bemused discussion about London’s Goldsmiths’ Company’s competitions, he remarks: “How many claret jugs and cups, tea services and coffee services, salvers and dishes, candelabra and groups, there are—we cannot venture to say; nor ought any but a deeply-versed connoisseur to pass judgment on their relative merits.”

     This is one of the few discussions about where all that California gold went and what became of it. One thing that became of it was the Great Exhibition, where California gold was displayed, of which Dodd remarks: “Five or six millions of inquisitive human beings have had an opportunity of seeing virgin gold, gold ore, or quartz gold, at the Great Exhibition.... Those who missed the ponderous Californian specimen whose pounds weight were in hundreds, and whose pounds value was in thousands, had yet an opportunity of seeing those which glittered among the Russian treasures....”

     George Dodd (1808-1881) wrote widely on industrial subjects, most of which articles and books were meant for popular consumption. ($250-500)


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