Description

    The Miner's Ten Commandments 1853 Original Wood Engraving published by James Mason Hutchings. Hutchings came to California from England in 1849, seeking a fortune in gold like untold thousands of others. While he didn't find any "gold in them thar' hills," he did find success as a writer. In the June 4, 1853 issue of the Placerville Herald newspaper, he published a piece called the "The Miner's Ten Commandments" and it was so successful that Hutchings published an exact reprint as a lettersheet of which this is an wonderful example. The text starts out "A man spake these words and said: I am a miner, who wandered from away down east, and came to sojourn in a strange land and see the elephant. And behold I saw him, and hear witness, that from the key of his trunk to the end of his tail, his whole body has passed before me; and I followed him until his huge feet stood stand still before a clapboard shanty; then, with his trunk extended, he pointed to a candle-card tacked upon a shingle, as though he would say read, and I read the Miners' Ten Commandments."

    The First Commandment was simple and actually found in many mining codes: "Thou shalt have no other claim than one." The sixth addresses a variety of subjects, including alcohol consumption: "Thou shalt not kill thy body by working in the rain.... Neither shalt thou kill thy neighbor's body in a duel.... Neither shalt thou destroy thyself by getting tight, nor slewed, or high, nor corned, nor half-seas-over, nor three sheets in the wind, by drinking smoothly down--brandy-slings, gin-cocktails, whisky-punches, rum-toddies, nor eggnogs. Neither shalt thou suck mint-julips, nor sherry-cobblers, through a straw, nor gurgle from a bottle the raw material, nor take it neat from a decanter..." The eighth commandment promised strong retribution: "Thou shall not steal a pick, or a pan, or a shovel, from thy fellow miner, nor take away his tools without his leave...for he will be sure to discover what thou hast done, and will straightaway call his fellow miners together, and if the law hinder them not they will hang thee, or give thee fifty lashes, or shave thy head and brand thee like a horse thief with 'R' upon thy cheek."

    The text is in the center of this page, and each commandment, as well as the introductory paragraph is illustrated around the text with a great woodcut image showing scenes reminiscent of the "gold rush" period. This item is in excellent condition, bright and clean with only light evidence of original folds. It is 8.75" x 10.75", matted in museum board to 15" x 17" and makes an excellent display piece. Often reproduced, here is an opportunity to own an original.


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    Auction Dates
    December, 2005
    15th-16th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
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