Illustrated Notes of an Expedition through Mexico and California
"But I recollected my father's advice given some three years before, whilst in Texas,—'Push on to the West, even to California: you will find new animals at every change in the formation of the country, and new birds from Central America will delight you.'"
Illustrated Notes of an Expedition through Mexico and California

J.W. AUDUBON, 1852

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Illustrated Notes of an Expedition through Mexico and California
J.W. Audubon, 1852
AUDUBON, John Woodhouse (1812-1862). Illustrated Notes of an Expedition through Mexico and California. New York: J.W. Audubon, 1852.

Very rare first edition of this extraordinary color-plate Gold Rush "might-have-been". "In 1849 John Woodhouse Audubon joined the gold rush, travelling to California across Texas and northern Mexico. On his return, he planned an ambitious plate book of forty plates in ten parts, illustrating scenes from his trip and in the mines. Despite the tremendous national interest in the gold rush, he was unable to generate enough subscriptions to justify the publication, and so packaged the ... letterpress text, with the plates of the projected first part, as a complete book" (Stamped with a National Character). Audubon account ledgers for 1852 confirm the sale of only two copies (Kurutz).

The four color plates are: "Fourth of July Camp," "Night Watch," "Cañon, Jesus Maria," (called by the author, "the most magnificent mountain-pass I have ever seen") and "Jesus Maria". This copy was purchased at a country estate sale in 2006; when it appeared at Bonhams later that year it was the first one to be publicly sold at a national auction house in at least the past 100 years. There have been just two others since that time. Graff 111; Howes A-390 ("dd" = superlatively rare, almost unobtainable); Kurutz 21; Stamped with a National Character 41; Streeter sale 3166-3167 (two tinted plates only); Wagner-Camp 208.

Folio (435 x 326 mm). With four hand-colored lithographed plates, drawn by J.W. Audubon, on stone by E. Gildemeister, printed by Nagel & Weingaertner (text with some foxing and minor dampstain, title and preface leaf toned and with a tiny edge-chip). Original muslin-backed printed boards with original price ($3.00 colored) noted in manuscript (text block nearly detached, wear and staining to boards, small abraded patch on lower cover). Custom full morocco clamshell box. Provenance: Bonhams San Francisco, 27 June 2006, lot 3401, [sold to:] – Michael Sharpe (morocco bookplate, his sale, Bonhams, San Francisco, 9 February 2015, lot 99).

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