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Colton 1854 Map of California—Very Early State Map

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100.     CAPRON, E[lisha] S[mith]. History of California, from Its Discovery to the Present Time; Comprising also a Full Description of Its Climate, Surface, Soil, Rivers, Towns, Beasts, Birds, Fishes, State of Its Society, Agriculture, Commerce, Mines, Mining, &c. With a Journal of the Voyage from New York, via Nicaragua, to San Francisco, and Back, via Panama. With a New Map of the Country by E.S. Capron, Counsellor [sic] at Law. Boston & Cleveland: [Stereotyped by Hobart & Robbins, New England Type and Stereotype Foundry, Boston, for] John P. Jewett & Jewett, Proctor & Worthington, 1854. xi [1, blank], 356 pp., folded map: California 1854. Published by J.H. Colton, No. 86 Cedar St. New York Entered according to Act of Congress in the Year 1853 by J.H. Colton in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York [inset upper right] City of San Francisco, lithograph map with original hand coloring (counties and borders), ornate border; image area including border: 40 x 32 cm; overall sheet size: 43 x 33.5 cm. 12mo (19 x 13 cm), publisher’s original blind-stamped brown cloth, gilt pictorial spine with state seal of California. Binding lightly shelf worn, extremities and corners slightly nicked, front hinge weak, light marginal staining to front flyleaf and rear endpapers, otherwise the book is fine and the text fresh. Ink association inscription on front flyleaf: “C. Adelaide Capron, From Cousin Henry, Feb 4th. 1876.” The map is cleanly detached and very fine, with excellent color. The book is difficult to find in decent condition, and this is a desirable copy with the map pristine and in situ.

     First edition of book; second issue of the Colton map (dated 1854 rather than 1853). The map was also issued as a pocket map. Streeter Sale 2734: “The only earlier state maps I know of are the Butler 1851 map and the Gibbes New Map of California of 1851 (both in TWS), and the Colton map with the 1853 date.” The map was reprinted with changes and used in Colton’s 1855 American Atlas. Cowan I, p. 41. Cowan II, p. 104. Graff 580. Hill II:254. Holliday Sale 170. Howell 50, California 349. Howes C127. Jones 1309. Rocq 16759. Sabin 10764. Wheat, Maps of the California Gold Region #254: “This is the same map as that listed as 1853—Colton, save for the change in date. It seems also to have been included in ‘Colton’s Atlas of the World…by George W. Colton.’” In his note to the 1853 issue of the map, Wheat comments: “This was probably the best-known map of California in the eastern states during the ‘fifties. It was republished annually for a time, with little or no change.” Wheat, “Twenty-Five California Maps” #16 (citing the 1853 issue): “The gold region of the Sierra foothills is quite well shown. The inset map of the City of San Francisco is an excellent chart of the city.”

     The book emphasizes San Francisco and the Gold Rush. But the author also discusses mission cattle and the old ranchos of California (fandango, jueces del campo, branding, rodeo, corrals, lasso, saddles, expertise in horsemanship, management of cattle, etc.), mentions the hide and tallow trade in association with San Diego, gives statistics on livestock (cattle, horses, sheep, and goats), and discusses grazing potential in general and the inferiority of the nearly wild native cattle. The lure of this once fairly common book (priced at $50.00 in the Howell catalogue) is in part due to the wonderful Colton map.

     Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 116:

According to the preface: “In April, 1853, the author proceeded to California, as the commercial agent of several extensive mercantile houses in New York City. In the discharge of the duties of his commission, he visited the principal cities and villages of the state…. He also traversed various parts of the mining regions, and sojourned with the miners, among their valleys and mountains.” In Part Second, Capron gives a description of San Francisco with details of its lurid side. Part Third is devoted to gold mines, mining, and miners. It consists primarily of lucid definitions of various mining techniques as well as descriptions of the miners’ court, miners’ home, and Chinese exclusion. The last portion of his book contains his well-written journal from New York to Nicaragua and California. Capron left on April 23, 1853, and arrived in San Francisco on May 21. He began the return trip on September 12.


Sold. Hammer: $450.00; Price Realized: $540.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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