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Lot 142

“A very significant and rather rare French pamphlet”

142. TRÉNY. La Californie Dévoilée, ou Vérités Irrécusables Appuyées sur de Nombreux Témoinages sur Cette Partie du Globe. Par Trény. Deuxième Édition. Paris: [Printed by Bonaventure and Ducessois, 55, quai des Augustins] Chez Tous les Libraires, 1850. 60 [2, ads] pp., 12 woodcut text illustrations. 8vo, original tan pictorial wrappers with engraved vignette on each cover. Backstrip frayed with some loss, light chipping along edges, but overall fine, original condition, clean, uncut and unopened. Lithograph billheads from a Parisian firm pasted to inner wrappers and bound with outer signatures (this oddity occurred in the Streeter copy, as well as another copy we examined). With the pamphlet is a fine copy of When the French Came to California, reprinted from the December 1943 (Vol. XXII, No. 4) and March 1944 (Vol. XXIII, No. 1) issues of California Historical Society Quarterly, containing an essay on and translation of Trény’s pamphlet by Gilbert Chinard, who refers to the original imprint as “a very significant and rather rare French pamphlet.” Gold bookplate of Albert Hooper affixed to inside upper wrapper. The fragile pamphlet is well protected in a custom natural linen and blue cloth clamshell case with protective pull-out tray.

     Second edition. There were three editions, all in 1850, all with 60 pages. The bibliographical relationship among them has never been adequately explored. All are rare, and the only copies we trace at auction in recent decades are the Streeter copy in 1968 and the Volkmann copy sold by our firm in February 2005. The present copy is in better condition than either of those two copies. Braislin 1796. Cf. Cowan I, p. 232. Cowan II, p. 644 (listing only the second and third editions). Graff 4185n. Howes T347. Monaghan 1414. Rocq 17193. Sabin 96779. Streeter Sale 2655. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 210: “Significant pamphlet.”

     A propaganda publication of the Compagnie la Californienne of Paris, this work is uniformly flattering of California, the emigrant’s prospects there, and the company’s ability to assist. Valued because it contains matter not normally found in such French publications, especially translations from English-language newspapers. Most astonishing, however, is the description on pp. 57-60 of the departure of a group of the company’s emigrants on board the Jacques-Lafitte, which is made to sound like a veritable party cruise, greatly in keeping with a long tradition in French emigration literature stretching back to Charles de Rochefort in the mid-seventeenth century, who described the voyage to the West Indies as no more difficult than sitting in one’s living room. More interesting to those of calculating analysis, however, would be the letter of one Léopold Perrot, written from California to his mother (pp. 35-38). Although he includes something of a “Prices Current” list that seems to indicate not everything is expensive, he remarks that carpenters receive up to 100 francs a day and that the washerwoman charges 5 francs for every piece of clothing. Clearly, easier and surer money is to be made off of serving miners than in being one.

     The engraved vignettes are uneven in quality; some, such as the wrapper illustrations, quite charming, while others are rather mundane.

Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 637b:

Trény produced this pamphlet on behalf of the California Mining Company, organized in Paris. Nasatir writes: "This was one of many pamphlets produced by the discovery of gold in California; but it differs from the majority of them in that it contains translation of excerpts from English and American newspapers as well as copies of correspondence from Frenchmen who were in California." Trény quoted extensively from Auguste La Coste and Hypolite Ferry. He included interesting letters from Captain Gabriel Lafond de Lury of Monterey, M. Gould Buffum, and M. Leopold Perrot from San Francisco. Trény included a section on the placers, the Panama Route, statutes of the California Mining Company, and extracts concerning the departure of the company. The illustrations scattered throughout the text delineate mining and other scenes in California.

      Desiré Fricot's translation originally appeared in the December 1943 and March 1944 numbers of the California Historical Society Quarterly.


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