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Lot 109

Early Imprint North of San Francisco

109. [METLAR, George W.]. Northern California, Scott & Klamath Rivers, their Inhabitants and Characteristics—Its Historical Features—Arrival of Scott and His Friends—Mining Interests. A True Portrait of the Miner, His Habits and Customs or Attributes of Character—Estimation of the Nice Young Man by the Ladies—Our Climate and Geographical Features—England’s Vain Glorious Boasting—American Nationality Contrasted—Historical Incident Connected with General Washington, together with a Life-like Picture of San Francisco. By a Practical Miner. Yreka: Union Printing Office—J. Tyson, Printer, [1856]. 24 pp. 12mo, original beige printed wrappers, title within typographical border, original stitching. A few small voids to slender, fragile spine, wraps lightly wrinkled with old fold line, lightly foxed throughout, generally a fine copy in original condition. Light ink number “233” at upper right corner of title page. Preserved in crimson morocco and marbled board slipcase, crimson cloth chemise. Exceedingly rare and little known.

     First edition. Cowan I, pp. 153-154: “A very curious work.” Cowan II, p. 427. Greenwood, California Imprints 713: “The first known pamphlet printed in Yreka. Tells of the gold discovery on the Scott River, at Scott’s Bar, Siuskiyou county. The pamphlet was probably printed for distribution to miners in the immediate vicinity of the Scott River mines.” Howes M563. Sabin 48209. Streeter Sale 2807 (rebound): “Metlar fancied himself to be a writer, so there is a great superfluity of elaborate description here. However, he did arrive at Scott’s River, near its mouth, in May 1855, and does tell at first hand about this region and especially of the mining operations on the bars near the junction of the two rivers. The sketch of San Francisco apparently was first published in the Golden Era in 1863. This is probably the first book printed in northern California.—TWS.”

     The author shows considerable sympathy for the plight of Native Americans, who he believes have been mistreated by the United States and in “little time the race of the red men will have become extinct—their career will be closed forever.” On the other hand, his denunciation of the British is extreme and his characterization of Mexico even worse. His final remarks on San Francisco are extremely flattering, and he predicts great prosperity for the city, although it is “cursed with fleas.” Metlar was an early observer on the environmental impact of gold mining operations on the Klamath River Basin, noting the clarity of the Klamath compared to the muddy Scott River. He does not doubt the bounty of the gold supply to be found in Northern California: “The future will not only confirm the prediction, but it will also prove to the world that it is a chest of gold, the lid of which can only be opened by the hand of industry, enterprise, and energy” (p. 7). This is a classic of booster literature. ($18,000-36,000)

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