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    [California Gold Mining] C. W. Tucker with Randsburg as a "Tent City" in the Background 1897. 6.75" x 4.75". C. W. Tucker shortly after his arrival in Rand Camp is reading a letter, which was probably from his girlfriend. In the background is Randsburg in the Spring of 1897. It was reported in the December 20, 1897 edition of The Los Angeles Times that: "Randsburg Dec. 18. (Regular correspondence) The business activities of this place still continue in ever-increasing volume. New houses are going up in all directions, but especially on Butte Avenue, the main road running through the Rand to Fiddler's Gulch. This is the route to Kramer on the Santa Fe, and also that upon which the stages over the new route to Mojave arrive and depart. The mail coach comes in over the old road serving the offices at Koehn Springs and Garlock Stages on the way. On Butte Avenue during the past week more than fifty new buildings erected, some of them quite pretentious in size, but for the most part small and either composed wholly of lumber or the foundations, floor and sides lumber, and a tent stretched over for a roof. The buildings are, of course, of the plainest and cheapest kind, without any attempt at architectural plans or beauty. They will serve their purpose equally as well as more costly ones, until their owners either get rich or fail. There are many more people here than a week ago and lots are a good sale. The price of lots anywhere along Butte Avenue varies a little according to location. Just now the most activity out towards Fiddler's Gulch and more building going on there. Lots sell from $50 up, and the title is only squatter's. If not occupied or built on they are likely to be occupied by someone else some morning before the reputed owner is aware. So far there has been little trouble, but just yesterday a lot owned and claimed by a young man here, but who had no buildings up, was taken possession of by other parties and a house is going up today." This is a remarkable image in fine condition.

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    Clarence W. Tucker Photograph Collection

    Randsburg, California - Mojave Desert, Circa 1896 - 1898


    Simply spectacular! This collection consists of twenty-seven studio-mounted photographs and ten glass plate negatives taken by pioneer California photographer Clarence W. Tucker (1874-1964). The archive represents the most important and rare grouping of mining camp images to come to market in many years. The photos were found at the bottom of a mine in the Mojave Desert in the 1950s by amateur prospector William Young as documented by a series of articles in Westways Magazine in 1971 and 1972. Not a great deal is known about C. W. Tucker's early days in photography. He was born in Indiana on September 22, 1874 and in 1893 he became a photographer's apprentice in Warsaw, Indiana. In 1895 he came to San Jose, California to visit a cousin and ended up staying in California and working as a photographer until his death in 1964. Tucker settled in the rough mining camp of Randsburg around 1896 and remained there until about 1898. During that time he met and married Grace Doughty and she worked as his assistant from thereafter. In the early 1900s the Tuckers moved to Covina, California where they ran a photography studio until 1950. Tucker could not have avoided being affected by the raw energy of the mining camp at Randsburg and his keen photographer's eye fortunately chronicled its rise from a tent city to a small but booming mining town. His images are possibly the only photographic record extant of Randsburg's glory days as an Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) search shows no images by Tucker taken during his time in Randsburg in institutional holdings.


    Randsburg's decade-long boom began in 1895 with the discovery of rich gold and mineral deposits in the El Paso mountains in the northwestern Mojave Desert. John Singleton, a hard-rock miner, in a last attempt at striking it rich, got lucky with the discovery of rich gold deposits which would become the famous Yellow Aster mine. The claim was named the "Rand" giving a nod to the rich mines of South Africa and the early mining camp was called "Rand Camp". The discovery touched off the inevitable flood of prospectors and a crude tent camp was hastily established. By the end of 1895 there were thirteen buildings, most of them canvas but by the next year the population had swollen to 1,500 and more permanent wooden structures began to appear. The town suffered a series of devastating fires and as mining played out in the area, the town effectively reverted to ghost town status.

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    Auction Dates
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    30th-1st Wednesday-Thursday
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