CALIFORNIA: ITS PAST HISTORY, its present position, its future prospects: containing a history of the country from its colonization by the Spanish to the present time . including a history of the rise, progress, and present condition of the Mormon settlements: with an appendix containing the official reports made to the government of the United States.

[California; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; G. A. FLEMING].

Published by Printed for the proprietors (M'Gowen and Co.), 1850., 1850
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Small 4to. viii, 270 pp. GORGEOUS HAND COLORED FRONTISPIECE AND HALF TITLE VIGNETTE, COLOR MAP facing p. 33; lacking plate 3. Original blind stamped brown cloth; worn, joint cracked, else very good. Rare. FIRST EDITION. One of the earliest and most important accounts of the 1849 California Gold Rush. Anonymously written, but "G. A. Fleming is the author according to a presentation copy owned by B. E. Waters" (Storm/Graff, item 1347). The hand-colored plates, which Kurutz calls of "exceptional quality", are in fine detail, vivid color and in excellent perspective. These include: [1] A color frontispiece titled, Emigrant Party on the Road to California (depicts a caravan of wagons along mountain scene), [2] a color half title vignette titled Scene on a Branch of the Sacramento (depicts panning for gold and ornamental typography), [3] a color map facing p. 33. Not all copies have the gold area colored in yellow, (first noted by Wheat, p. 144), as so in our copy. The third illustration, titled, Encampment in the Valley of the Sacramento is lacking. Storm/Graff states that some copies are "found with the nine plates instead of the present three" (Storm, item 1347). Sloan describes such a copy (Auction 16, Lot 63), where many of the additional plates referred to New Zealand or could be generic for travel to either place. Many copies vary with the number of plates present. However the New Zealand plates are not called for with this edition about California. Sloan speculates the plate variation may have been caused by London printers rushing to meet the demand for guide books for both California and New Zealand during the mid- 19th century. Published in London for the English immigrant, this account is currently read for its historical value to this day. However it is scarce to find a first edition. The book begins "with a review of English law and regulations concerning ships carrying emigrants, [then] it soon moves to a general description of the area and its history, mostly drawn from secondary sources, such as Fremont and Vizetelly. Written principally for the poor. . .the author puts forth the proposition that those who can successfully practice a trade in California will ultimately proper more than those who merely seek gold." (Sloan). "One of the fullest and most interesting of the contemporary accounts" (Howes) on the California gold rush. REFERENCES: Robert Clarke [booksellers]. Bibliotheca Americana, 1893: Catalogue of a Valuable Collection of ., Issue 4, no.1746; Goldsmiths'-Kress no. 36734; Holliday, J. S. Rush for Riches: Gold Fever and the Making of California University of California Press; First edition June 8, 1999. p 159; Howes F178; Kurutz, Gary. The California Gold Rush: A Descriptive Bibliography of Books and Pamphlets Covering the Years 1848-1853. San Francisco: The Book Club of California, 1997; Richard Thomas Stillson, Spreading the Word: A History of Information in the California . 2006, p. 259; Sabin 9973; Sloan, Dorothy. Auction 15, lot 78 and Auction 16, lot 63; Storm, Colton. A Catalogue of the Everett D. Graff Collection of Western Americana. University Of Chicago Press, 1968. Item 1347; Wheat, Carl I. The maps of the California gold region, 1848-1857: A biblio-cartography of an important decade. 1942. Bookseller Inventory #

Bibliographic Details

Title: CALIFORNIA: ITS PAST HISTORY, its present ...
Publisher: Printed for the proprietors (M'Gowen and Co.), 1850.
Publication Date: 1850

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