San Francisco: Thomas C. Russell, 1922. First edition. One of a limited run of 450 copies signed by the publisher, of which 200 were printed on California bond paper (the present being copy number 210). Quarter linen spine over drab boards, retaining the delicate paper label to spine. Top edge brightly gilt. Brown endpapers. Ownership stamp of John B. Metcalf to front flyleaf. Internally bright, complete, and unmarked, with eight tissue-guarded, hand-colored plates. An exceptional example of this Zamorano 80 title.
Born in New Jersey 1819 and raised in Massachusetts, Louisa Smith married Fayette Clapp, a young doctor, right before the couple sailed west to reach Gold country in California. (She added an e to her birth name as well as her married name.) Like so many of the people who sought riches during the California Gold Rush, Louise and Fayette were mostly broken by the experience. During their time living in mining camps along the Feather River, Louise chronicled the rawness, realness, sights, sounds, odors, love, and violence that pervaded mining camps in a series of letters addressed to her sister, M.
Originally published in the Pioneer, a San Francisco magazine, from 1854-1855, the twenty-three letters are now known as the Dame Shirley letters, in honor of Clappe's penname. They are revered for their insights into the multi-ethnic, predominantly male, turbulent world of gold mining and prospecting. Combining an incisive eye and candid pen, the Dame Shirley Letters are an important example of a woman's perspective on life and labor during the California Gold Rush.
Zamorano 80, no. 69. Fine (Item #3381)