From Rancho to Capt. Weber’s Gold Rush Tent Town to Thriving City

Koch’s Handsome & Rare Bird’s-Eye View of Stockton

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39. [BIRD’S-EYE VIEW: STOCKTON & SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY]. KOCH, Augustus (artist) & Britton & Rey (lithographers). Birds Eye View of the City of Stockton San Joaquin County. 1870. California. [below image at left] Drawn by Augustus Koch. [below image at right] Lith. Britton & Rey, S.F. [between lower image and title, small oval view] Stockton in 1852. [numbered key in four columns left and right of title] 1 Court House. 2 Female Insane Asylum. 3 Male 4 Washington School. 5 Lafayette 6 Franklin 7 1st. Baptist Church. 8 Episcopal 9 Jewish Synagogue. 10 North Methodist Church. South ”” 11 South 12 Cumberland Presbn. 13 Christian Church. 14 Presbyterian 15 German 16 R. Catholic 17 Congregational 18 Colored 19 ”” 20 Yosemite Hotel. 21 Weber House. 22 Lafayette 23 Grant Hotel. 24 Stockton 25 Odd Fellow Buildg. 26 Druids Hall. 27 Theatre Buildg. 28 Stockton Waterworks. 29 Gas 30 R.R. Passenger Depot. 31 Freight 32 Stockton Lumber Yard. 33 City Flour Mills. 34 Lanes ”” 35 Eureka Ware House. 36 Globe Iron Works. 37 Wm. P Millers Carriage Facty 38 Condy Bross. Sash & Blind Factory. 39 Turn Hall. 40 Race Track 41 M.L. Abramsky, Real Estate Agent. 42 Eldorado Brewery. 43 City Brewery 44 Stockton Iron Works. 45 Pacific Tannery. 46 Yo Semite Clothing House. San Francisco, 1870. Toned lithograph view in shades of tan and grey; image: 58.4 x 79.9 cm; image, title and key: 64 x 79.9 cm; overall sheet size: 85 x 89 cm. Light marginal soiling, blank margins chipped with loss, several consolidated tears (most not touching image), old tape stain at upper left blank margin, central vertical crease relaxed, image proper very good to fine. A rare and handsome view for this town. Reps locates copies at Amon Carter Museum (Fort Worth); California Historical Society (San Francisco); Bancroft Library.

     First edition. Reps, Cities of the American West: A History of Frontier Urban Planning, Figure 7.17. Reps, Cities on Stone, p. 98 & Color Plate 16. Reps, Views and Viewmakers of Urban America 429.

     The small oval vignette at the lower portion of the print shows Stockton as it was in 1852, when the Gold Rush was still in progress. Stockton’s founder was German-born Captain Charles David Maria Weber (1814-1881). He came to the United States in 1836, settling first in New Orleans and then spending about five years in Texas. Health issues prompted Weber to emigrate to California with the Bartleson-Bidwell Party in 1841 (first overland party to California from the United States). At first he worked for John Sutter, but his ambitions were higher and he knew how to make a deal. In 1845 he obtained the 50,000-acre land grant El Campo de los Franceses. Captain Weber mined gold, raised cattle, and created a booming commercial depot for the southern mines, selling tools and goods to eager prospectors at Gold Rush prices. The bird’s-eye view shows the developed town almost twenty years later as a well-established and inviting city. Expansion is the mode, and many buildings have gone up, even on the opposite side of the railroad tracks. In the river several steamboats churn, and in the distance two trains puff along the tracks. One factory belches smoke, that sure sign of progress in the nineteenth century. Spanning from Vine Street to South Street, from Tule Street to East Street, Stockton appears to have everything a civilized town should have from, hotels and commerce, churches of many denominations (including one for “Colored”), a synagogue, schools, as well as two breweries and a courthouse. The town is well served by a rail line that parallels Sacramento Street, and there are numerous docks for boats near the downtown area. For an equally rare map of Stockton, see under Von Frankenberg in the Map section herein.

     Prussian-born Augustus Koch (1840-?), the creator of this rare view, was one of the most important viewmakers. Reps, Views, pp. 184-186):

No American viewmaker traveled more widely in search of subjects than August Koch.... His first signed lithographs date from 1868 with the appearance of views of Cedar Falls, Vinton, and Waterloo, Iowa. In 1869 Koch drew four additional Iowa towns before setting out the following year to depict places in Wyoming, Utah, and California.... From 1872 though 1875 he visited and prepared views of cities in Tennessee, Illinois, Texas, New York, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, and Maine. Toward the end of his career, in the 1890s, his travels took him to Virginia, Washington, Georgia, Florida, Missouri, Colorado, Montana. Altogether, he was responsible for at least 110 views of towns in nearly every region of the country.... Koch drew his cities with considerable care, consistently depicting his subjects as if seen from very high viewpoints.... He seems to have drawn with substantial accuracy.... His recorded output of 110 views was exceeded by only a few other viewmakers.

     Hart comments on lithographers Britton & Rey (Companion to California, p. 52):

Britton and Rey, firm of lithographers in San Francisco (1852-1902), the oldest west of the Rocky Mts., also engaged in printing, engraving, and decoration. The senior partner, Joseph Britton (1820-1901), was a Yorkshireman who went to California in 1849. His brother-in-law, Jacques Joseph Rey (1820-1892), an Alsatian, joined him in other businesses, including some financing of the dirigible of Frederick Marriott. Britton was also active as a Supervisor in San Francisco on the People’s party ticket and as a financier of Hallidie’s first cable car line.

Baird in his long article in California on Stone (pp. 62-89) states that the partnership of Britton and Rey “accounts for some of the most notable lithography done in California from the first to the last of our story.”


Sold. Hammer: $1,500.00; Price Realized: $1,837.50.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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