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Lot 93

93. LANGWORTHY, Franklin. Scenery of the Plains, Mountains and Mines: or a Diary Kept Upon the Overland Route to California, by Way of the Great Salt Lake: Travels in the Cities, Mines, and Agricultural District—Embracing the Return by the Pacific Ocean and Central America, in the Years 1850, ’51, ’52 and ’53. By Franklin Langworthy. Ogdenburgh: Published by J. C. Sprague, Book-Seller, Hitchcock & Tillotson, Printers, 1855. 324 pp. 8vo, publisher’s original blindstamped brown cloth, spine stamped in black. Minor shelf wear, hinges weak, occasional foxing to text (more pronounced at front), overall a very good copy. Preserved in a half brown morocco and brown cloth slipcase with matching chemise. Thespian Jean Hersholt’s copy, signed and with bookplate affixed to chemise (Talbot, Historic California in Bookplates, pp. 230-31, illustrated).

     First edition. Bauer 247. Braislin 1121. Byrd 57. Cowan I, p. 135: “A scarce book, and no doubt served its purpose; but it is a most dreary performance in literature.” Cowan II, p. 383. Graff 2892. Holliday 635. Howell, California 50:590. Howes L84. Jones 1336. Littell 616. Mattes 872. Matthews, p. 326. Mintz, The Trail 284. Plains & Rockies IV:258. Rader 2201. Sabin 38904. Streeter Sale 3179. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 122.

Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 391a:

Franklin Langworthy started for California on April 1, 1850, from near Galena, Illinois, followed the California Trail, and arrived at the Humboldt Sink on October 2. He crossed over the Sierra Nevada by way of Carson Pass and arrived at Sacramento on October 27. While in the vicinity of Placerville, he noted that “Cooking [not mining] seems to be one of the most lucrative employments.” Langworthy spent two years traveling throughout California and the mining regions and presented his readers with a compact, but vividly written description of the mines, mining methods, and mining society. His accounts of thievery and gambling halls painted a sordid picture of the land of gold. Langworthy also wrote of the November 1852 fire in Sacramento; Dr. Bourne’s hydropathy; bull and bear fights; San Francisco; and the burning of the S. S. Lewis. These observations were balanced with positive statements about California’s flora, fauna, and agricultural wealth. Concerning his own livelihood, he explained: “I supported myself in traveling, by giving popular lectures on scientific subjects. At times, I attempted to labor at mining, but was obliged to desist on account of my health.” On April 16, 1852, Langworthy boarded the steamship Brother Jonathan, bound for San Juan del Sud. The remainder of the book detailed his return home via Nicaragua.


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