New York & Hartford: Kelloggs & Comstock, [ca. 1849-1852]. Handcolored lithograph, 13 1/2 x 9 1/2 inches (sight). Very clean. Handsomely framed and matted. Item #WRCAM54805
An iconic image of the California Gold Rush, showing a well-dressed and well-equipped argonaut, just setting off on the overland journey to the gold fields of California. The "independent gold hunter" is shown walking across the prairie, some 350 miles west of St. Louis and 1700 miles from California. His clothes are clean, and his hair and beard are neatly trimmed. He wears a frock coat, knee-high black leather boots, and a large kettle for a hat. In a lower coat pocket are several knives and a pistol, and in an upper pocket is a flask. He smokes a cigarette, carries a small suitcase in his left hand, and his right hand holds a long stick on top of his right shoulder. From the stick hang sausages, small fish, and a tea kettle. Also seen dangling from him are the tools of his future trade: a gold mining pan, a shovel, and scales. This copy is attractively colored in muted tones of blue, green, grey, and tan. This lithograph was issued by two different publishers: Kelloggs & Comstock of Hartford (with Ensign & Thayer of Buffalo listed as co- publisher), and by the famed firm of Currier & Ives of New York. The Currier & Ives issue is likely the first; either issue is quite scarce. Peters singles this print out from the vast production of the Kelloggs firm (they were second only to Currier and Ives in productivity), saying that their western prints are "a small but important and rare group," and calling this lithograph "extremely interesting." Not in Vail's GOLD FEVER, though he does list several Gold Rush prints, nor was a copy featured in the 1999 Huntington Library exhibit, "Land of Golden Dreams." A copy of the present issue sold at auction earlier in 2018, and before that Rare Book Hub lists no copies at auction since the sale of prints from the stock of Edward Eberstadt & Sons in 1967. OCLC locates only a single copy of this Kelloggs & Comstock issue, at the American Antiquarian Society. There are also copies at the California State Library, the Beinecke Library, the Oakland Museum of California, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the St. Louis Mercantile Library. PETERS, AMERICA ON STONE, p.246. PETERS, CALIFORNIA ON STONE, p.140 & plate 69. FINLAY, PICTURING VICTORIAN AMERICA, 434. OCLC 191117340.