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California Gold Rush Humor—the Vicissitudes of the Prospector

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94.     [CALIFORNIA PICTORIAL LETTER SHEET]. A Prospecting Party [title at top] Lith. & Pubd. by Britton & Rey San Francisco [below images]. Four illustrations. Left to right: Starting. (three miners with a packed mule happily leave their log cabin and start up the trail); Not Even the Colour (the three at diggings; man at right, in a hole, holds pan almost upside down futilely looking for the “color”; seated man, at left in patched pants, looks sadly on; between them a standing man leans on a shovel–mule grazing at back); The End of the Mule (the three standing on a steep ledge, trying to hold their mule with a lead cord as he falls down the mountain side); Returning. (the three, limping and footsore, with great holes in their clothing, return to a cabin); [number at upper right] 5. N.p., n.d. [Issued before January 13, 1854]. Lithograph on white wove paper. Each image: 9 x 12.1 cm; sheet size: 21 x 27 cm. Very good.

     Baird 209 (another issue, No. 5 from the Britton & Rey numbered series). Clifford 215. Peters, California on Stone, p. 76. The artist takes a humorous look at the vicissitudes of prospecting in the California Gold Rush. The trio of miners start their search for gold as well-equipped and well-dressed miners, one of whom merrily waves his hat. Next in the cartoon sequence is a miner in a deep hole with an empty gold pa, and next the miners’ mule tumbles down a sheer precipice. The final panel has the tattered trio heading toward a cabin looking very much the worse for wear, minus mule and equipment. The final indignity: one of the miners has pants so filled with holes that his round rump is exposed. This is another example of frustrated gold hunters, in cartoon style with a combination of humor and pathos.


Sold. Hammer: $300.00; Price Realized: $360.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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