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Lot 85

“One of the earliest published accounts by an actual ‘returned Californian’”—Wheat

85. JOHNSON, Theodore T[aylor]. Sights in the Gold Region, and Scenes by the Way. By Theodore T. Johnson. New York: [C. W. Benedict, 201 William Street, for] Baker and Scribner, 145 Nassau Street and 36 Park Row, 1849. xii, 278 [2, blank] pp. 8vo, original blue blindstamped cloth, spine gilt-lettered. Binding slightly shelf slanted and lower corners bumped, front pastedown abraded, slightly shaken (some signatures loose), interior fine and binding bright.

     First edition. Byrd 44. Cowan I, p. 122. Cowan II, p. 315. Graff 2223. Hill II:895. Howell, California 50:126. Howes J154. Mintz, The Trail 260. Plains & Rockies IV:167g:1. Rocq 15884. Sabin 36328. Streeter Sale 2575. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 112: “One of the earliest published accounts by an actual ‘returned Californian,’ who asserts that he ‘visited California to dig gold, but chose to abandon that purpose rather than expose his life and health in the mines.’”

Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 363a:

Johnson’s book provided one of the earliest, liveliest, and most detailed accounts of the Gold Rush. In his preface dated September 1849, the gold seeker wrote: “Seized with the gold fever and resolved to judge of the wealth of El Dorado by actual observation, I embarked on one of the first steamers which sailed from New York.” Johnson began his journey on February 5, 1849 on board the steamer Crescent City, and sailed for Panama. Much of the text is devoted to the crossing, delays, and life on the Isthmus. Boarding the Oregon, Johnson and 280 fellow-passengers headed north, entered San Francisco Bay on April 1 and, by April 12, arrived at Sutter’s Mill. Johnson then spent the next several days in the Mother Lode, making observations of camps and towns, prominent individuals like Captain Sutter, Old Greenwood, and John Sinclair. He also wrote about the Indians and their mistreatment, Peruvians, social life, mining methods, and the natural wealth of California. Meeting with little success, worried over health, and faced with stiff competition in San Francisco, Johnson left California on May 1. He reached Philadelphia on June 26, via the Isthmus.


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