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Lot 134

134. [STONE, John A.]. Put’s Golden Songster. Containing the Largest and Most Popular Collection of California Songs Ever Published. By the Author of “Put’s Original California Songster.” San Francisco: D. E. Appleton & Co., [1858]. 64 pp. 12mo, original blue pictorial wrappers with wood-engraved view of riparian mining scene, stitched. Wraps slightly chipped, old violet ink stain on upper right corners of a few leaves towards end not affecting text. Overall, a fine copy of a fragile item.

     First edition. Cowan I, p. 183. Cowan II, p. 599. Greenwood 983. Howell, California 50:1209: “Scarce item.” Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 162: “Much of the flavor of the gold days, as well as the era’s pathos and humor, pervades these ephemeral little publications.” Often overlooked is the fact that this small volume is also a joke book containing about a dozen humorous bon mots scattered among the songs. Although many of the songs are humorous or ironic, “Loss of the ‘Central America,’” the first song in the book, is unique in its vituperation, here directed towards the ship’s owners:

     ‘Twould be very fine were the owners aboard,
          And sink where they never would rise;
     ‘Twould any amount of amusement afford,
          And cancel a million lies.

     When the Central America, nicknamed “The Ship of Gold,” foundered off Cape Hatteras on September 12, 1857, it was the worst maritime disaster in U. S. history; the ship took to the bottom over four hundred people and tons of gold. One hundred thirty years later, the wreck of the Central America was found at a depth of 8,500 feet by modern-day, technologically equipped treasure hunters, and much of her cargo of gold was salvaged. ($200-400)


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