california

Historic Stage Routes of San Diego County

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This is a publication that explores the history of the San Diego Jackass Mail (1857-61), named as such due to the remoteness of the service route requiring riders and mail both to travel by mule instead of stagecoach. The mail service was part of one of the most significant lines in U.S. postal history. The San Antonio–San Diego Mail Line was the first to provide fast and reliable mail service in the southwest region of the country.
 

The Golden State Scientist

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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.

The Forty-Niners

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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.

California Illustrated

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“Dear Reader: If you have visited California, you will find nothing in these pages to interest you; if you have not, they may serve to kill an idle hour." With this bit of stark understatement, the reader is introduced to California Illustrated, a journal published in 1852. This book chronicles the author’s journey with a group of travelers making their way to California. There’s whale spotting, a shipwide illness, and the travelers' arrival at the Islands of Turks and Caicos—and that’s just in the first chapter.

After the Gold Rush

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In 2001, British artist Jeremy Deller received a residency from the CCAC Wattis Institute in San Francisco. He applied his honorarium toward a used Jeep and five acres of land in the Mojave Desert for $2000, thereby staking his own claim upon the Golden State. His fellowship resulted in an unorthodox but compelling guidebook tracing California’s history from the 19th century mining boom to the post-dot-com recession, as found along its dusty highways and in its roadside museums.

Rush for Riches: Gold Fever

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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.

California Gold

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This book is a compilation of prints of covers (or envelopes) and postcards from the California Gold Rush featuring detailed information about each illustration. It portrays the adventure involved in prospecting for gold. Mining expert Kenneth Kutz begins his story with the discovery of gold in California and explores the connection between the gold rush and philately. Then he discusses mining law. Finally, he presents the reader with 20 years of correspondence to and from people working in the gold fields, beginning with the initial discovery of gold in 1848.

Sea Routes to the Gold Fields

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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.

Gold Rush Steamers of the Pacific

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This book is a large-font reprint of the 1938 original. It was written by Columbia University graduate, mining expert, and California historian Ernest Abram Wiltsee, who was a collector of covers. (A cover is the name stamp collectors have given to what most people call envelopes.) The original limited-edition of this seminal work was only 500 copies; this copy plays an important and unusual role in the field of United States postal history.

Gold, Silk, Pioneers & Mail

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This 50-page book is copy number 160 of only 500 in a limited-edition printing. Number six of the Pacific History Series, this book's cover features a handsome 1867 image of the wooden side-paddle wheel steamer "China." This ship was manufactured to transport mail across the Pacific, from San Francisco to Japan. One side effect of the California Gold Rush was the increase of California's commercial ties with Asia.

The Gold Rush Mail Agents to California and Their Postal Markings, 1849-1852

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This book contains over 250 pages of letters to and from the Postmaster General, along with charts and tables. It documents the work of mail agents who carried mail from the eastern states to California by steamship until the completion of the transcontinental railroad in the late 1860s. Professor Theron Wierenga wrote this book for his students, after his son was born.

Letters of Gold

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This gold-covered book is especially appropriate for the Smithsonian Library's golden anniversary celebration. In the early days of the U.S. postal system, mail traveled to California overland, or by steamship, pony, jackass (pack mule), and railroad. The goal was to connect isolated California with the rest of the United States. At almost four hundred pages in length, this book contains hundreds of black-and-white photos (and a few color plates) of canceled covers—envelopes stamped by the post office so they cannot be reused as fresh postage.

An Account of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in the Republic of Mexico

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In the decade before the American Civil War, the United States was preoccupied by efforts for interoceanic communication. The Isthmus of Tehuantepec represented the shortest distance between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean, and prior to the opening of the Panama Canal, was a major shipping route. It was during negotiations to end the Mexican war of 1846-1848 that the United States began discussing ways in which the route could be accessed or purchased. Nicolas P.

Gold Fever

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Author of eight books in the National Postal Museum Library alone (including Gold Fever, California Gold, Black Gold, Klondike Gold, and Victoria Gold) Kenneth Kutz is a gold enthusiast. This 400-page book tells the history of gold prospecting around the world and the effect it had on early explorers, settlement, and colonization. Gold incites both romance and excitement, not just in California, but all over the world.