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    California gold and manuscripts belonging to forty-niner Samuel Upham

    Samuel Curtis Upham Archive, including California gold belonging to this original forty-niner. Samuel Upham was an extraordinary man, serving intermittently as seaman, poet, hymn writer, author, newspaper publisher, businessman, original California forty-niner, and renowned Confederate currency counterfeiter. In addition to the gold, this personal collection of the indefatigable Upham consists of the illustrated Journey to the Gold Diggins by Jeremiah Saddlebags and an album containing numerous speeches, printed essays, poems, letters, and over sixty newspaper articles, and event ribbons.

    In January 1849 after catching gold fever, Samuel Curtis Upham (1819-1885) sailed from Philadelphia, around South America, to San Francisco, an eventful sea journey which took seven months and resulted in his classic work Notes of a Voyage to California via Cape Horn (Philadelphia, 1878). By September 1849, one month after arriving in California, Upham was digging for gold. Unsuccessful as a gold miner, he soon formed a partnership with several newspapermen. In April 1850, they began publishing the first daily newspaper in California outside of San Francisco, the Sacramento Transcript. By the fall of 1850, Upham, possibly homesick, sold his interest in the California newspaper and returned to Philadelphia where he began publishing another, the Philadelphia Sunday Mercury. When the Civil War began, he was successfully situated selling stationery. With his knowledge of the printing and stationery business, Upham began copying Confederate currency in 1862. He was soon the largest counterfeiter of the currency--so large that his work became harmful to the Southern economy, gaining him respect in the North and denunciation in the South. At the same time, he was also printing patriotic Union envelopes--ten of which are included in this archive. (George B. Tremmel, A Guide Book of Counterfeit Confederate Currency, Whitman Publishing, LLC: 2007.)

    The majority of items available here relate to Upham's adventures in California. Of eminent interest are the three pieces of Upham's gold which have been identified as originating from Placer County, California: (1) a natural smooth gold nugget, 3.29 grams; (2) California gold ΒΌ dollar coins, one 1874 very fine, and one 1873, holed at 6 o'clock; (3) a later silver ring mounted with natural gold nuggets.

    Also included is an original issue of the unusual Journey to the Gold Diggins by Jeremiah Saddlebags. Illustrated by James A. Read and D. F. Read. New York: Stringer & Townsend Publishers, [1849], 9" x 5.75", 56 pages (7 pages, including the back wrapper, are missing). This is the humorously illustrated misadventures of California prospector Jeremiah Saddlebags. With the original top wrapper, which has some tape repairs.

    All other items in the archive are contained in an album, 9" x 12", with "News Cuttings" printed on the cover. Therein are 81 pages to which have been mounted numerous well-preserved speeches, printed essays, tickets, programs, presentations, poems, letters, over sixty newspaper articles, ten patriotic envelopes, and four events ribbons, most connected with the California Gold Rush and the California pioneer reunions of the 1870s.

    Interestingly, there is a group of documents and articles pertaining to Upham's California newspaper, the Sacramento Transcript, such as a group of handwritten copies (all dated 1850) of receipts for money and items like "types, presses and other material of the 'Sacramento Transcript' newspaper". One document is a one page handwritten duplicate of the business agreement for the founders of the newspaper dated December 28, 1849. All of these are laid into the scrapbook (completely free of mounting) and remain in near fine condition.

    Also included with the album are several letters written and signed by Upham, as well as an eighteen page manuscript, May 6, 1878, Philadelphia, in which Upham briefly relates his life story. This fascinating letter reads in part: "I have had a hard road to travel during my somewhat uneventful life. . . . I remained in the lumber business until the month of January, 1849, when I sailed for California, via Cape Horn, and arrived in the modern El Dorado, on the 5th of the following August, after a tedious passage of 201 days. In the month of September, I visited the gold diggings on the Caleveras River and commenced operations." The letter continues with Upham's account of the founding of the Sacramento Transcript with "five practical printers." Several pages of the letter are also devoted to a biographical sketch of Samuel's uncle, William Upham, a U.S. senator from Vermont. A second manuscript is titled "Address at the Dedication of the [James] Lick Monument at Fredericksburg, Pa., April 22d, 1878", eight pages.

    With four letters of special interest from associates of Upham who were connected to his stay in California:
    (1) John Sutter Autograph Note Signed "John A. Sutter". One page, August 9, 1876, Washington, D.C.
    (2) Prentice Mulford Autograph Letter Signed.
    (3) John C. Fremont Partial Autograph Note Signed "J. C. Fremont".
    (4) Joaquin Miller Two Autograph Letters Signed, one including a poem.

    This fabulous archive is replete with material and should be carefully viewed for content and condition.


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    Auction Dates
    June, 2009
    16th-17th Tuesday-Wednesday
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