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Lot 152


Illustrated Swedish work on the Kalifornien Guldfebern

152. [VOLLMER, Carl Gottfried Wilhelm]. Kalifornien och Guldfebern. Guldgräfvarnes, Mormonernas och Indianernas Seder och Bruk, antecknade under en Resa i Vestra Nordamerika, af Dr. W. F. A. Zimmermann [pseudonym]. Öfversatt och bearbetadt af J. E. Thimgren. Med 8 Litografierade Planscher i Tontryck och 50 Träsnitt. Stockholm: C. H. Fahlstedts, Hörnet af Storkyrkobrinken och Stadssmedjegatan, [1862]. [10] 662 pp., 8 chromolithographed plates, numerous text engravings (including illustrated title and others illustrating mining methods and equipment). 8vo, original three-quarter black morocco over brown boards, spine gilt-lettered and decorated (professionally recased, new sympathetic endpapers). Very fine, plates pristine.

     First edition. Editions also came out in Berlin and Amsterdam; there was no English edition. Cowan II, p. 900. Flake 9491. Howes V140. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 238n. Vollmer seems to have been some sort of factotum writing popular natural history. In one of his titles he styles himself as a Dutch doctor and naturalist. Among his voluminous writings are: Astoria, oder, Reisen und Abenteuer der Astorexpeditionen (Leipzig, 1858; Howes V139), Der Mensch, die Räthsel und Wunder seiner Natur: Ursprung und Urgeschichte seines Geschlechts sowie dessen Entwickelung vom Naturzustande zur Civilisation [Man, the Riddle and Wonder of his Nature] (Berlin, 1864), Magnetismus und Mesmerismus, oder Physische und geistige Kräfte der Natur (Berlin, 1862).

Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 655a:

This work served as part of the author’s “novels of natural science” series. “Zimmermann” was his nom-de-plume. The title translates as “California and the Gold Fever. Travels in the West of North America; Life and Customs of the Argonauts, Mormons and Indians.” The chromolithograph plates are sensational. The arrangement of the plates may vary. For example, in the Swedish edition, the plates are horizontal and, in the Berlin edition, they are vertical.

     Besides the California Gold Rush, the author describes Mormon settlements, Native American tribes (including Comanche, Cherokee, Kiowa, Navajo, Cree), etc. The plates, some of which are reworked from other sources, are interesting for showing European fascination with the American West and its indigenous tribes. The plates emphasize the dangers and excitements of the Gold Rush and the American West.

[1] Indianernas hämnd. Spectacular scene of two horses and their bound riders in midair falling from a steep cliff. Above are triumphant, well-armed Natives. Below, a wagon train and its party flee in confusion.

[2] Folkjustisen eller Lynch lagen. Lynch mob “justice” of a frequently published image (including California pictorial letter sheets), but here perhaps in its most lurid incarnation, due to the eerie coloring and ominous shading.

[3] Ett bröllops-kalas i Kalifornien. Interior of cantina.

[4] En prairiebrand. Prairie fire, possibly a reworking of a Texas scene (see Del Weniger in The Explorer’s Texas, Austin, 1984, see p. 195).

[5] En fatal morgonhelsning. Bear threatening horse and rider.

[6] Den Willis’ska expeditionens läger. Busy scene on the trail with wagons in a circle, mountains in the distance.

[7] Buffeljagt hos infödingarne i Nordamerika. Dusty melee depicting Native Americans stampeding buffalo.

[8] En nordamerikansk krigarstam. Native Americans in pow-wow dressed full regalia, tents and prairie in background.


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