19th century

Le Jardin des Plantes

Le Menagerie du Jardin des Plantes in Paris, France, is a small zoo within the larger botanical gardens (Jardin des Plantes) which are part of the Museum of Natural History. Founded with animals from the menagerie of Versailles, which was dismantled in 1795 during the French Revolution, it is the second-oldest zoo in the world. This book, written by botanist and geologist Pierre Boitard, features beautiful etchings of many of the animals found in the zoo and botanical gardens. By 1845, when this second edition was published, Paris had the largest exotic animal collection in Europe.

The Golden State Scientist

Despite dying at only 28, Edward M. Haight (1863-1891) established a busy career as an enthusiastic naturalist, collector, taxidermist, and publisher. The Golden State Scientist is one of three serials that he edited in the late 1880s, and it is by far the scarcest. This was the only issue ever published, and only 450 copies made it into print, owing to “the many blunders made in the advertisements." Only about a dozen copies survive in libraries today.

Loves Garland: or Posies for Rings, Hand-kerchers, & Gloves

They say every book tells a story, and this one does not disappoint. Loves Garland, or Posies for Rings…contains a selection of posies, or love poems, that could be inscribed onto gold rings and given to a friend or lover as a testament of one’s affection. This edition of Loves Garland, published in 1883, is a reprint of a 1674 edition, which in turn is a reprint of the original 1624 edition.


This work, translated by Henry M. Labouchere and William Jesse from the second edition of Das Leben der Vögel, was written by A.E. Brehm, the author of the very well-known zoological encyclopedia Brehms Tierleben (Brehm’s Life of Animals). The first half of the book consists of essays describing various behavioral, social, morphological, and even economic characteristics of birds. The last half is a study of fifty individual species. The book is dedicated to Brehm’s father, Christian, a pastor and noted ornithologist in his own right.

The Forty-Niners

James Marshall, a foreman at Sutter’s Fort near Sacramento, accidentally discovered gold in January 1848 while building a sawmill. His discovery sparked the California Gold Rush. Approximately 300,000 people from across the country and around the world flocked to the region, hoping to make their fortunes. These gold-seekers were called the “Forty-Niners,” since the majority of them arrived during 1849. This book, by historian and nature writer Stewart Edward White, tells the story of California before, during, and after this pivotal period.

The Assay of Gold and Silver Wares

Printed by John Edward Taylor in 1852, Arthur Ryland’s (1807-1877) Assay of Gold and Silver Wares provides insight on the development of legislative practices designed to protect and regulate the assaying and minting of gold and silver coinage—or to fight against the practice of counterfeiting. Ryland examines assaying practices in England, Ireland, and Scotland, and explores legislation and laws designed to protect lawful coinage and to punish individuals found guilty of counterfeiting.

Travels in the Interior of Brazil

Author John Mawe, a dealer and expert in gems and minerals, was the first to reveal the full range of Brazil’s mineral wealth, which the Portuguese government kept closed to Europeans. Briefly detained as a spy in Montevideo, he reached Brazil and was given access to the inland mining districts, including Minas Geraes. There he recorded the localities, processes, and tools of the industry, along with a great deal of general information about the land and people of Brazil. His book was a bestseller, ultimately published in many editions and translations.

Old Hicks the Guide

After serving with the Texas Rangers in his late teens and early 20s, then studying for a career in medicine (in Kentucky), and then for the ministry (at Princeton), Charles Webber finally settled into journalism, writing for several literary reviews. Enticed by tales of gold and quicksilver in the country north of the Gila River in Arizona, Webber organized an expedition to the region, writing this and other books to promote it.

Astronomie et Meteorologie a L'Usage Des Jeunes Personnes

The stark black publisher’s binding—contrasted with brilliant gold, blue, green, and red embellishments—would certainly have attracted any child to this astronomical children’s text. This book broke with the more traditional format of the dissemination of astronomical knowledge in France at the time, which often took place in a belles-lettres format under the pretext of a knowledgeable man conversing with a young and pretty woman.

The Beauty of the Heavens

This little astronomical work contains 104 beautifully hand-colored lithographs of the moon, planets, and constellations, along with eclipses and atmospheric phenomena. The constellations dotted with golden stars are great examples of the elegance and simplicity of the book’s execution. Author Charles Blunt’s introduction to the book explains that it was created so that a family need not “quit their own parlour, or drawing-room fireside, to enjoy the sublime ‘beauty of the heavens.’” With every plate comes a ‘lecture’ or description designed to be read aloud, facilitating at-home learning.

At Susa, the Ancient Capital of the Kings of Persia

This English translation of Jane Dieulafoy’s account of her travels to Susa in Persia (modern-day Iran) describes in detail the many villages she saw and the artifacts she and her husband, Marcel Dieulafoy, collected. One of the famous artifacts sent to France from Susa is the Frise des Lions, which is currently at the Museé du Louvre. The French government awarded Dieulafoy the Legion of Honor for her explorations in the Susa region and her subsequent artifact contributions.

La Perse, La Chaldée et La Susiane

This gilded and richly illustrated volume describes the 19th-century travels of explorer Jane Dieulafoy. Dieulafoy documented her explorations through what is now Iraq and Iran. Dieulafoy uses the expressive language of her time to describe the weather, people, cultures, and treasures she encountered. The volume includes many illustrations of the villages, ports, and bazaars she visited. The illustrations are prints from wood engravings based on the author’s photographs.

Revista de Costa Rica en el Siglo XIX

This volume was commissioned by the president of Costa Rica and published in 1902. The Comisión Conmemorativa de Costa Rica en el Siglo XIX worked with various authors to highlight the social history, local customs, and artistic contributions of Costa Rica during the 19th century. The book also covers the history of the Catholic Church in Costa Rica during this period. The goal of this volume was to highlight the many successes of Costa Rica following its independence. The cover depicts a silver angel holding aloft a burning torch inscribed with the Roman numerals XX (20).

The Georgia Gold Rush

When thinking of the phrase “gold rush,” the words "California" or "Klondike" may come to mind. Well before prospectors traveled out west, many tried their luck in the mountains of the state of Georgia. Author David Williams sifts through many obscure resources and historical documents to paint a picture of the Georgia gold rush and its impact on the local Cherokee beginning in 1828 and throughout the subsequent decade.

Grammaire Demotique Contenant les Principes Generaux de la Langue et de l'Ecriture Populaires des Anciens Egyptiens

This book was written by Egyptologist Henri Brugsch in 1855. It was the first European attempt to study Demotic—the written and spoken language of the ancient Egyptian people. Brugsch’s project was recognized and supported by Frederick William IV, King of Prussia. He sponsored Brugsch’s visits to various European museums to view objects and monuments containing the Demotic language, in order to complete his knowledge of the subject. Brugsch then documented what he had learned in Grammaire Démotique. The book examines this dialect's grammar, syntax, and phonetics.

Klondike Gold

Canadian author, Kenneth J. Kutz is an expert and enthusiast in both philately and gold. Kutz is the former President of Texasgulf Mining Corporation. He is also the former President of the Collectors Club of New York, one of the oldest existing philatelic societies (founded in 1896) in the United States. This book is about the Canadian Klondike Gold Rush of 1896, which attracted 100,000 prospectors from around the world.

Rush for Riches: Gold Fever

This is a thick tabletop book with large print and 100 breathtaking color illustrations and photos of gold miners throughout. The lure of achieving instant wealth with the relatively low equipment cost of prospecting was called "gold fever." The author covers almost four decades, from 1849—just after the first discovery of gold in California—to 1884, when the hydraulic mining companies ceased operations. It also discusses a horrific side effect of the gold rush—the massacre and extermination of Native Americans in California.

Sea Routes to the Gold Fields

This book is a reprint of the original, so many of the black-and-white images are fuzzy. Nevertheless, it is a very exciting read. Many people assume that the prospectors who participated in the California Gold Rush traveled there overland from the eastern states. But it was actually a worldwide gold rush, with many prospectors traveling by sea. Even prospectors from Maine often traveled by sea. Because the Panama Canal had not yet been built, travelers to California had to sail around Cape Horn.