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Lot 157

A Forty-Niner’s original manuscript with unpublished material

157. [WEBSTER, Kimball]. Author’s untitled holograph manuscript, unsigned, for his published work The Gold Seekers of ’49 published at Manchester in 1917. Undated (but ca. 1916). 373 leaves (written on rectos only) on ruled paper, 4to. Very fine. Preserved in red cloth slipcase with red morocco label and matching cloth chemise. With the manuscript is a mint copy of the first edition of the book.

     This is the fair copy of the manuscript as delivered to the printer. It contains some authorial corrections, including two typescript pages, but has been extensively edited and marked up for typesetting. The text as given here is complete as published, except for Webster’s biography and “The Pioneers of California,” both by George Waldo Brown, who is probably also responsible for the editorial emendations in the manuscript, which were probably done after Webster’s death on June 29, 1916. The manuscript also does not have the “Addenda” on the discovery of gold (pp. 237-240). Otherwise, it is complete. The text as presented in the final few leaves of the manuscript is confused, but after reordering, it all appeared in the printed version.

     This manuscript is important because it contains a great deal of text that was stricken and not printed in the published version. So far as is known, this is the only unexpurgated version of the text in existence.

Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 667 comments on the printed book:

Editor Browne produced this book from Kimball Webster's diary and manuscript recollections. A native of Pelham, New Hampshire and member of the Granite State and California Mining & Trading Company, Webster left Boston on April 17, 1849, for the gold fields. The company decided the overland route was preferable to a tedious ocean voyage. Webster maintained a diary to record the journey via the California Trail and, after 144 days, arrived at the Feather River mines on October 17. According to Browne, the second part of the book is from Webster's original manuscript detailing his life in the mines from October 1849 to June 1851. This summary provides a good description of mining conditions in general and his own gold seeking near Bidwell's Bar and the Yuba and Feather rivers. Webster's trip to Sacramento and his harrowing experience during the flood of January 1850 add to the richness of his narrative. Webster wrote the final portion in January 1894 after a lapse of forty-four years. Here he told of the illusion of Gold Lake, mining on the Yuba, and his adventures in Oregon as a surveyor. He returned home to New Hampshire in 1855.

For Webster’s printed book see the following bibliographers: Cowan II, p. 673. Graff 4571. Heckman 373. Howell, California 50:924. Mattes, Platte River Road Narratives 669. Matthews, p. 323. Mintz 489. Norris 4151. Rocq 16139. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 222. ($5,000-10,000)

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