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Earliest Published Map to Show the Death Valley Pioneer Route (Wheat)

31. HEAP, Gwinn Harris. Central Route to the Pacific, from the Valley of the Mississippi to California: Journal of the Expedition of E. F. Beale, Superintendent of the Indian Affairs in California, and Gwinn Harris Heap, from Missouri to California, in 1853. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo, and Co.; London: Trübner and Co., 1854. 136, 32 (publisher’s catalogue) pp., 13 tinted lithograph plates by P. S. Duval in Philadelphia after Heap’s original artwork (Native Americans, scenes and views on the expedition); lithograph map: Map of the Central Route from the Valley of the Mississippi to California. Compiled & Drawn by G. H. Heap [below neat line at right] P. S. Duval & Co’s Steam lith. Press, Philada. (neat line to neat line 18.7 x 87.6 cm; extends beyond neat line at one point). 8vo, original dark green cloth, publisher’s logo embossed on both covers, spine gilt-lettered, publisher’s ads in blue on endpapers. Spine frayed at lower extremity, upper cover with some white stains and abrasions, cloth with some abrasions, endpapers browned in margins (as are the first few leaves of the text block and a few interior leaves), plates with scattered light foxing, uniform light age toning to text (due to quality of paper), map lightly browned with splits at some folds (no losses). The map is seldom found with the book.

Plate List:

1. Rafting Across Grand River.

2. Spanish Peaks.

3. Lower Mouth of Huerfano Cañon.

4. Huerfano Butte.

5. First Camp in the Sangre de Cristo Mts.

6. Entrance of Sahwatch Valley. San Luis Valley and the Sierra Blanca in the distance.

7. Scenery in Sahwatch Valley.

8. Coochatope Pass. “The Gate of Buffaloes.” in Sahwatch Mts.

9. Coochatope Pass.

10. Rio de la Laguna Creek. Sierra de la Plata.

11. Crossing Laguna Creek.

12. Grand River, Below the Junction of the Uncompagre.

13. View on Green River.

     First edition. This variant with the London imprint was apparently meant for export; except for the alternate imprint, which was set by stop-press correction, the text is from the same setting of type as those copies that have only Philadelphia in the imprint. (Cf. the damaged letters as follows: p. 33, line 13, C in “Corn-fed”; p. 57, line 12 from bottom, M in “Massachusetts”; p. 90, line 6 from bottom, q in “square”; p. 109, line 16, b in “bounded”). The inserted publishers’ catalogue has been reported in variants of 46 pp., 32 pp., and pp. 17-32; these variants apparently have nothing to do with issue points of the text, however.

     Braislin 125. Cowan I, p. 107. Cowan II, p. 273. Edwards, Enduring Desert, pp. 110-111: “The earliest published account of Death Valley.... Of all the journals and diaries telling of the Mojave desert crossing, none appears comparable to the Heap in sheer readability and in picturesque descriptive quality.” Flake 3934. Graff 1837: “Some of the areas explored are here described for the first time.” Howell 50, California 511. Howes H378. Mintz, The Trail 562. Munk, p. 100. Norris 1606. Paher, Nevada 747: “Here is the journal of the expedition of Edward F. Beale and Heap, who followed the Spanish Trail in August 1853 through southern Nevada and California while surveying the central route to California.... With its picturesque descriptions of the places he visited, Heap is among the most readable of the early journalists. Early camel material is contained in an appendix.” Littell 471. Peters, California on Stone, pp. 114-115, 128. Plains & Rockies IV:235. Rittenhouse 290. Saunders 2947. Streeter Sale 3177. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 808 & III, pp. 197-201: “Although not impressive for accuracy or information of any kind, this [map] is the first attempt on a published map to show the 1849 Death Valley pioneer route.... Heap’s was the earliest published map to show the middle Rocky Mountain region, through what is now southern California.... On the basis of journal and map, Benton blew mighty trumpets for the superiority of his ‘Central Route.’”

     Cambridge History of English and American Literature, Vol. XVII (Later National Literature, Part II; XIV Travellers and Explorers, 1846-1900; Boundary Surveys): “A transcontinental railway became more and more a necessity from numerous points of view, not the least of which was the interchange of products across the Pacific. Preliminary wagon roads were surveyed, and for this purpose Lieutenant E. F. Beale in returning to California struck across a little ahead of Gunnison on the same route. With him was Gwinn Harris Heap, who wrote the narrative of the journey: Central Route to the Pacific from the Valley of the Mississippi to California (1854).” One of the missions of this expedition was to decide if there were suitable lands in Utah and New Mexico to which Native Americans from California might be relocated.

     After his adventures as described here, Heap (1817-1887) went on to become instrumental in the U.S. camel experiment. Because of his knowledge of camels, Near Eastern culture, and Arabic, he was selected to procure the camels that eventually ended up in the American West. After that, he held diplomatic posts in Tunis and Constantinople. The superb frontispiece of Native Americans and members of the expedition party rafting across the Colorado River with its atmospheric quality and subtle tinting in aqua and taupe is one of the memorable images of the Borderlands. See Samuels, Encyclopedia of the American West, pp. 214-215. ($2,500-5,000)

Sold. Hammer: $2,800.00; Price Realized: $3,290.00

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