Bonhams Americana sale offers slice of California history



2015-06-26 11:26:45

The history of California, from its discovery to the Gold Rush, will be represented by a Bonhams Americana sale next month.

Important Western Americana: Property of a Collector in California will feature an exceptional selection of rare texts and documents, telling the story of Native American history, European exploration and the Western Expansion of the 19th century.

The first recorded European land exploration to reach California was the Portolá Expedition in 1769-70 led by the Spanigh soldier Gaspar de Portolà. The auction will feature two highly rare documents from the expedition: an original copy of the suppressed report which followed it, estimated at $80,000-$120,000, and the advance report attributed to de Portolá himself. This report, of which less than 10 copies are known, includes the first account of the founding of Monterey and comes with an estimate of $30,000-$50,000.

Further important documents from the state's early history include the first printed laws of the state, 'Reglamento para el Bogierno de la Provincia de Californias', dating from 1784 and estimated at $120,000-$180,000.

Exploration of the region during the 19th century is documented in several standout lots, such as a rare hand-coloured copy of the work 'Illustrated Notes of an Expedition Through Mexico and California' by John Woodhouse Audubon (son of artist and naturalist John James Audubon). Published in 1852, the work relates Audubon's journey to California during the first Gold Rush of 1849 and is valued at $80,000-$120,000.

There are also letters and manuscripts bearing first-hand accounts of the booming gold mining industry, and even original copies of books offering advice to prospective prospectors.

"We are pleased to be offering a collection of this caliber and are delighted to see that interest in California and the West remains strong among collectors," says Bonhams' Director of Fine Books & Manuscripts, Dr. Catherine Williamson.

The auction takes place in San Francisco on February 9.

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