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Lot 163

“In a sense it constitutes the first Pacific coast guide”—Howes

163. WILKES, Charles. Western America, Including California and Oregon, with Maps of Those Regions, and of “The Sacramento Valley.” Philadelphia: [Stereotyped by J. Fagan Printed by C. Sherman, for] Lea and Blanchard, 1849. ix [1, blank] [13]-130 pp. (initial and terminal blanks not present), 3 folded lithographed maps. 8vo, modern three-quarter red sheep over mottled red and black moiré cloth, spine with raised bands, top edge gilt (by Morrell of London). Title page lightly browned and chipped, large folding map linen backed and with a few small voids at folds (minor losses), one map browned due to poor paper. Interior and maps generally fine. Contemporary ink signature on title page, three effaced blindstamps on title page and preliminary leaves, old ink accession number on title verso.


A Correct Map from Actual Surveys and Examinations Embracing a Portion of California between Monterey and the Prairie Butes in the Valley of the Sacramento Shewing the Placeres 1849 Drawn by F. D. Stuart Soundings in Fathoms. [above neat line at center]: Entered According to Act of Congress in the Year 1849, by Lea & Blanchard, in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. 60 x 42.6 cm; 23-5/8 x 16-3/4 inches. Discloses “graphically the great advances in geographical knowledge of the American West during less than a decade” (Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West III, p. 90 & #646). Wheat, Maps of the California Gold Region 134. “One of the first large scale maps of the Gold Region” (Howell). “The map of the Sacramento Valley was an important source of information for gold seekers” (Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 679a).

Map of Upper California by the Best Authorities 1849. 21.8 x 29.5 cm; 8-1/2 x 11-5/8 inches. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 654. Wheat, Maps of the California Gold’ Region 135 & pp. xxv-xxvi. Wheat, “Twenty-Five California Maps” 2n (citing the 1841 version on which the present map was based and noting the added detail on the Gold Region in this 1849 version).

Map of the Oregon Territory from the Best Authorities. 1849 [lower right below neat line]: Edwd. Yeager Sc [with inset]: Columbia River Reduced from a Survey Made by the U.S. Ex. Ex. 1841. 21.2 x 33.2 cm; 8-3/8 x 13-1/16 inches. “Carefully drawn and up-to-date” (Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West III, p. 90 & #655). The 1841 map on which the present map is based is discussed by Cohen (Mapping the West, pp. 120-122), who refers to Wilkes 1841 map as “the first official chart of any portion of the West Coast.”

     First edition. Cowan I, p. 249. Cowan II, p. 683. Eberstadt 121:376: “This is Wilkes’ own narrative of the Oregon and California explorations and experiences in 1846. It contains much information regarding those countries and their situation which he could not with propriety dwell upon in his official reports ‘before the territory became part of the public domain.’” Graff 4656. Holliday 1195. Howell, California 50:256. Howes W416: “In a sense it constitutes the first Pacific coast guide.” Norris 4222. Plains & Rockies IV:175a:1. Rocq 16162. Sabin 103995. Streeter Sale 3326. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 229. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 646, 654, 655. Wheat, Maps of the California Gold Region 134, 135.

Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 679a:

Commander Wilkes compiled this work from data gathered while he was on the Pacific Coast commanding the United States Exploring Expedition from 1838 to 1842. He included a chapter on the gold region drawn from official reports and his knowledge of the area’s geology and his own opinion of gold specimens sent east. The preface was dated February 1, 1849. The map of the Sacramento Valley was an important source of information for gold seekers.

      A lengthy summary of Wilkes’ Western America appeared in The Athenaeum (July 21, 1849) which praised his book for being informative but “lacking the picturesque details and romantic adventures which the reader has come to expect in the records of forest life.”


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