"THE FIRST EVER IN ENGLISH RELATING EXCLUSIVELY TO CALIFORNIA": FIRST EDITION OF FORBES' LANDMARK WORK ON CALIFORNIA, 1839, WITH LARGE COLOR-OUTLINED FOLDING MAP OF CALIFORNIA
(WEST) FORBES, Alexander. California: A History of Upper and Lower California. London: Smith, Elder, 1839. Octavo, 20th-century three-quarter black morocco gilt, raised bands, top edge gilt. $3200.
First edition of Forbes' groundbreaking work on California—"the first original work upon the subject in English" (Hittell)— with large folding map outlined in color by hand and ten full-page lithographs.
This pioneering work by Scottish-born explorer and entrepreneur Forbes was finished "in 1835 and sent to England, where it was published in 1839. It was, with the exception of the accounts contained in the voyages of navigators, the first original work upon the subject in English. Its chief object was to call the attention of the people of Great Britain to the Californias and the feasibility of their acquisition by the British crown" (Hittel, History of California II:293). Streeter strongly concurs and notes that Forbes' suggestion for Mexico to cancel its English debt "by a transfer of California to the Creditors" fueled those "seeking to have the United States take over California" (Streeter 2491). To 19th-century historian Bancroft, Forbes' California "was not only the first ever in English relating exclusively to California… but it has always maintained its reputation of being one of the best extant on the subject" (Works, 152). The large folding map, "made for the book, shows upper and lower California, Mexico, and Guatemala as they were in 1839, with insert maps of the harbors of Bodega, San Francisco, San Diego, Monterey, Santa Barbara and San Pedro… California has always been considered reliable and accurate" (Zamorano 80, 38). "The changes of time and subsequent history have not disturbed the value of this work, for it is still considered as one of the most important on the subject" (Cowan, 88). Bound without errata slip at page 339. Containing ten full-page lithographic illustrations and large folding map with hand-colored borders, engraved by noted London cartographer John Arrowsmith, bound in. Graff 1377. Howes F242. Jones 1023. Rich II:330. Sabin 25035. Eberstadt 113:216. No. 38 in the Zamorano 80. Small bookplate.
Interior clean and fine, a few minor scuffs to morocco binding. A near-fine copy.