California Pictorial Letter Sheet

California Indians by Gold Rush Artist Charles Nahl

Click thumbnails to open zoomable images.

212. [LETTER SHEET: CALIFORNIA]. NAHL, Charles (artist) & J[ames] M[ason] Hutchings (publisher]. Hutching’s [sic] California Scenes. | The California Indians. [8 vignettes, clockwise from top center] [1] An Indian Fandango. Anthony & Baker Sc; [2] Catching Grasshoppers. Anthony & Baker Sc; [3] Grinding Acorns, &c. Anthony & Baker Sc;[4] Cooking Food. Anthony & Baker Sc | C. Nahl del; [5] Burning Their Dead. Anthony & Baker Sc | C. Nahl del; [6] Mode of Traveling. Anthony & Baker Sc; [7] Gathering Seeds. Anthony & Baker Sc; [8] Gathering Acorns. Anthony & Baker Sc; [above border at lower right] Sun Print; [below lower border] Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1854, by James M. Hutchings, in the Clerk’s Office of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Orders, prepaid, addressed “Box H, Placerville, El Dorado Co., Cal.” [text in center in two columns, commencing] The California Indians are in stature short, but they are well and stoutly formed.... [San Francisco, n.d., ca. 1854]. Wood-engraved pictorial letter sheet on light blue laid paper, the six vignettes down the side each measuring 7.6 x 4.8 cm; vignette at top center 5.5 x 10.4 cm; border to border: 27 x 22 cm; image with copyright notice: 27.2 x 22 cm; overall sheet size: 28.5 x 23.3 cm. Lacking blank conjugate leaf. Creased where formerly folded; except for a small chip at lower left blank margin, fine.

     Baird 105. Clifford Sale (Letter Sheets) 102. One of the most popular letter sheets, with illustrations of California Native Americans and their way of life by Charles Nahl, leading Gold Rush artist. A fairly positive text description for each image is given, e.g., the commentary for the Fandango illustration:

These are popular and social gatherings of Indians for dancing, eating, laughing, talking, and learning the tradidionary [sic] greatness of their noble dead. Any particular tribe, wishing to give a fandango, send messengers to the chiefs of the surrounding tribes, who receive a small bundle of reeds or sticks, which show the number of days before it takes place. Preparations immediately commence upon an extensive scale, by those invited as well as those giving the invitation. Rabbits are snared, grasshoppers and fish are caught, acorns, roots, weed and flower seeds, clover, grass, wild greens and onions are provided in suitable quantities. As each Indian dresses according to his own extravagant notions of paint and feathers, several weeks are sometimes consumed in making head dresses of different decorations, in every ludicrous variety of style and color. When the day arrives, groups of Indians may be seen wending their way toward the festive scene. In the evening, when all are assembled, the “band” begins a monotonous “feau, feau” with a reed whistle and wooden castanets—while the dancers keep time by a perpetual “hi ha! hi ha!” until out of breath when they seat themselves to hear from the lips of their greatest chief or patriarch, the heroic deeds of their warrior ancestors; after which comes the feast. That being over, the dancing is renewed, and generally continued until morning, when they finish the remaining eatables and retire to rest under a large tree.


Auction 23 Abstracts

Click thumbnails to open zoomable images.

DSRB Home | e-mail: