Item #23110701 The Shirley Letters; From California Mines in 1851-52. Dame Shirley, Thomas C. Russell, Mrs. M. V. T. Lawrence, Mrs. Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clappe, "An Appreciation"
The Shirley Letters; From California Mines in 1851-52
The Shirley Letters; From California Mines in 1851-52
The Shirley Letters; From California Mines in 1851-52
The Shirley Letters; From California Mines in 1851-52
The Shirley Letters; From California Mines in 1851-52

The Shirley Letters; From California Mines in 1851-52

San Francisco: Thomas C. Russell, 1922. First and Limited Edition. Hardcover. First edition in book form, octavo size, 405 pp., signed by Thomas Russell. Fine / near fine. Item #23110701

This the first edition in book form of the letters of Dame Shirley, in which she recounts her experiences living in a mining camp in California in the mid-nineteenth century. The letters tell of life in the mining camp in rich detail and offer a unique perspective from an intellectual New England woman, and form a personal picture of the hardships and innovation during the California Gold Rush.

The sources wax rich with praise: per Howes, the work is "a vivid and unexcelled picture of everyday life in the mines." Gary Kurtiz ("The California Gold Rush") has a wonderful short essay on both the author and the various early publications, saying in part: "The 'Shirley Letters' have received the highest possible praise. The important of her letters was recognized early on and influenced the views and writings of Josiah Royce, Hubert Howe Bancroft, Bret Harte, and possibly, Samuel Clemens" (p. 133).

With eight hand-coloured prints and signed by Thomas C. Russell at the limitation page, in the original jacket, tipped in at the rear is a spare paper spine label. An outstanding production of an important work in the history of California written by a female author.

___DESCRIPTION: Quarter bound in coarse white/brown linen with a paper spine label, the boards covered with plain brown paper, endpapers of the same brown paper, top edge gilt, limitation statement on the verso of the half-title page, this no. 224 of the total edition (450) and one of 50 printed on California bond-paper and with hand-coloured plates, signed by the publisher, tissue-guarded frontispiece one of eight bound in throughout, an extensive forward written by "the Printer", each section of the book with an intricately detailed chapter headpiece and opening in-text decoration, these both in blue; octavo size (8 5/8" by 5 5/8"), pagination: [2, blank recto with publisher's ad on verso ("Other Reprints Issued"), [i-iv] v-l [2, half-title with blank verso] 1-350 [1, printer's statement]. In the publisher's jacket of plain brown paper, gilt lettering and vignette on the front.

___CONDITION: Volume fine overall, the cloth spine and paper over the boards without wear, perfectly straight corners without rubbing, a strong, square text block with solid hinges, the interior is clean and bright, all tissue guards present, the colour on the illustrations deep, and entirely free of prior owner markings; a hint of a spot of soil towards the bottom edge of the front board, a few spots of foxing to the fore-edge of the text block, and a few dark spots along the front hinge (likely from the glue). The dust jacket near fine, clean, remarkably free of edgewear, with just a few few spots of wear including a short closed tear at the top of the back joint.

___CITATION: Kuritz, no. 133; Wright-Howes (Final Edition), no. 433; Zamorano 80, no. 69: "Originally published in monthly instalments in 'The Pioneer; or, California Monthly Magazine', San Francisco: January, 1854-December, 1855...Not until 1922 were the letters reprinted in book form...[by] Thomas C. Russell...1922, illustrated with eight tinted plates from old prints."

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Price: $750.00