Alexander Forbes. California: A History of Upper and Lower California. London: Smith, Elder, 1839. First edition.

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    Alexander Forbes. California: A History of Upper and Lower California. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1839.  First edition. Octavo. xvi, 352 pages. Lithographic frontispiece of Father Antonio Peyri, nine lithographic plates, and the large folding lithographic map of California (printed on thin paper and bound at the rear). Eight of the plates are based on watercolor sketches by William Smythe. Half brown morocco over brown cloth, spine lettered and ruled in gilt with five raised bands, brown endpapers. Binding is overopened after the title page, leather dry and rubbed, and front joint just starting at the top, corners and joints rubbed and worn, occasional minor foxing, a little more on a couple plates, light dampstain to the fore-edge margin of a some sheet intruding less than an inch, small tear to the center fold of the map. Overall, a very good copy.  From the collection of California bibliophile Melba Berry Bennett.


    "British merchant Alexander Forbes wrote the first book published in English relating exclusively to California. His narrative, as observed by Hubert Howes Bancroft, was not so much a history as 'a presentation by an intelligent man of business of the country's actual condition, capabilities, institutions and prospects'. His book, more than any other, made California known to the English-speaking world and spurred on both European and American interest in controlling this remote Mexican province. A long-time resident of Mexico, Forbes completed the text for his book in October 1835 before sending it off to England for publication. Amazingly, Forbes had never set foot in California. A delay in publication allowed for the addition of new material up to the year 1838. The majority of this book consists of a history of both Baja and Alta California based on the works of Miguel Venegas, Francisco Palou, and others. The map with insets of San Francisco, San Diego, Monterey, Santa Barbara, and San Pedro is important." (Volkmann Collection).  Graff 1377. Hill p. 107. Howes F-248. Streeter 2491. Zamorano Eighty 38. 

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