The California Gold Rush of the Imagination

French Juvenile with Charming Chromolithograph Plates

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90. CHAVANNES DE LA GIRAUDIÈRE, H[ippolyte] de. Les Petits Voyageurs en Californie, par H. de Chavannes de La Giraudière. Tours: Ad Mame et Cie, Imprimeurs-Libraries [colophon: Tours, Imp. Mame], 1853. [2], [1] 2-188 pp., 8 chromolithograph plates. 8vo (20 x 13 cm), original cream pictorial boards printed in blue, green, red, black, and gold (upper board shows sea faring scene with ship under sail; lower board is an abstract design; signed at bottom of upper cover: Chromolith Engelmann & Graf, r. de l’Abbaye, 12, Paris), a.e.g. Other than light wear and minor soiling to boards, fine, the plates very fine and bright.

     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, 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 are a charming view of San Francisco and another showing the trio calmly killing a grizzly, an allegory for the entire adventure. One plate is an early illustration of the giant redwoods (clearly inspired by a similar one in Ferry). The view of San Francisco is signed by Joseph Lemercier, whose other works include the Kendall-Nebel portfolio. Adolphe Bayot and Lemercier were among the best lithographic teams in Paris at the time.


Sold. Hammer: $200.00; Price Realized: $245.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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