Dorothy Sloan -- Books


French Gold Rush Novel with Superb Lithographs

109.     [CHILDREN’S LITERATURE]. Les Petits Voyageurs en Californie…. Tours: Ad Mame et Cie, Imprimeurs-Libraries, 1853. [4], [1] 2-188 pp., 8 chromolithographs only one of which is signed: Imp. Lemercier, Paris. 8vo (20 x 12.3 cm), original brown gilt pictorial cloth, a.e.g. (spine extra gilt with decorative elements in gold and white laid on; upper cover with illustration of nun reading to children, elaborately stamped with gold, blue, red, and green panels laid on; lower cover with illustration of two boys reading, stamped in gold with blue, brown, and gold with panels laid on). Contemporary pencil ownership inscription on front free endpaper. Skillfully re-backed, original spine preserved and laid down; a few scattered fox marks, plates very fine, overall a fine copy, the unusual binding bright and fresh.

     First edition. Cowan II, p. 837. Gumuchian 1159. Howell 50, California 360. Jones, Adventures in Americana, Checklist 1298. Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 125. Sabin 12350. This optimistic juvenile novel, which went through several editions, recounts the voyage of M. Canton and his two sons from France to California by way of New York and Panama. Canton, a Paris furniture maker, falls on hard times when his business fails and his wife dies, leaving him with his sons Vincent, age fourteen, and Arthur, age twelve. Deciding to seek his fortune in California, Canton takes his sons on what proves to be a fairly idyllic trip to riches. As Arthur remarks: “Why not emigrate? We would be so strong the three of us that nothing could beat us down or discourage us.” And so it went.

     Among the notable plates is a charming view of San Francisco, signed by Joseph Lemercier, whose other works include the Kendall-Nebel portfolio (see Items 399 and 435 herein). Adolphe Bayot and Lemercier were among the best lithographic teams in Paris at the time.