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Lot 127

A Canadian in the Gold Rush

127. SHAW, Pringle. Ramblings in California; Containing a Description of the Country, Life at the Mines, State of Society, &c. Interspersed with Characteristic Anecdotes, and Sketches from Life, Being the Five Years’ Experience of a Gold Digger. Toronto: [Toronto: John Blackburn, Printer, 68 Young Street], for James Bain, 37 King Street East, [1856]. 239 [1, blank] pp. 12mo, publisher’s original blindstamped maroon cloth, upper cover gilt-lettered: Rambling’s [sic] in California. Spine sun faded, upper joint and hinge neatly reinforced, minor shelf wear, small ink stains on fore-edge, interior very fine and fresh.

     First edition. Bradford 4727. Byrd 71. Cowan I, p. 210. Cowan II, p. 580. Cowan & Dunlap, Chinese Question 408: “The author held office as recorder of mining claims, and this chapter relates to some experiences with the Chinese in the mines.” Howell, California 50:834. Howes S348. Rocq 16051. Sabin 79954. Streeter Sale 2855: “Shaw’s experiences were in the Yuba district, both as a miner and local magistrate.” Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 184.

     Shaw spent five years in California and provides valuable descriptions of the variety of ethnic types and the cities and towns, characterizing San Diego as “a favorite resort for horse stealers and suspicious looking greasers...chiefly from its remoteness and the uncertain communication with the more civilized districts.... [The climate resembles] the balmiest portions of Italy.... In ’54, but one physician existed in the place, and he died of a broken-heart, occasioned, it was said, by a want of practice. He complained…of the citizens’ obstinacy in adhering to robust health.”

Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 570:

In the preface, this Canadian wrote: “My business in California, was a gold speculation; and there, on the banks of the Yellow Yuba, and many other streams, I dug deep holes, and made—not exactly my pile—but my observations on men and things... I shall not so much regret that I prospected as faithfully for dry jokes, as wiser men did for dry diggings.” Shaw, through this detailed volume, attempted to convey to the reader a true sense of what to expect in California. He included a fine account of the varied types of people found, with emphasis on the Chinese. He also added an elaborate depiction of mining methods and a general portrait of all the California counties, missions, and agricultural resources. The final portion of the book consisted of verbose anecdotes and sketches from life, including “How I jumped a claim.”


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