"Both author and illustrator are characteristically Californian, and few volumes have a truer flavor of the Mother Lode than this result of their combined efforts ... The illustrator collaborated with 'Old Block' in other volumes but this particular selection is perhaps the happiest of their association" - Zamorano 80 (29)
A companion to the earlier Pen-Knife Sketches, this collection of stories and observations was dedicated by Delano ("Old Block") to the miners of California. He loved his miners and wrote with deep feeling about the lives they endured. In these sketches, he recalled his snug and cozy miner’s cabin, his amigos like “Old Swamp” and Bogue, Sunday in the mines, his first day in Sacramento, the burning of Grass Valley, and a mountain storm. As so energetically told by Delano, Sunday was not a day of worship or rest but a time to frolic with horseracing, gambling, and drinking. Waxing nostalgic, Delano, a native of Auburn, New York, concluded with the following celebration of his new home: “There is probably no country in the world whose early settlement abounds in more thrilling incident, more daring adventures, or more hardy and chivalrous deeds, than that of our beloved California.”
The full-page Armstrong engravings based on Charles Christian Nahl sketches of life in the mines and mining towns add greatly to the appeal of this Sacramento imprint. In particular, the last engraving presents a delightful portrait of this pioneer humorist. It humorously shows him “leaving this world on a black cat’s back, with my face towards his tail.” Leslie E. Bliss, Henry E. Huntington’s first librarian, states in The Zamorano 80: "Both author and illustrator are characteristically Californian, and few volumes have a truer flavor of the Mother Lode than this result of their combined efforts."
We are aware of only three other copies coming up for sale in the last 20 years; $5,750 at PBA in 2002; $9,200 at Dorothy Sloan in 2003; and $8,125 at Bonhams in 2016.
James N. Duck (his signature on the first page)
Charles Kenny McClatchy Collection.
The Zamorano Eighty is a list of books intended to represent the most significant early volumes published on the history of California. It was compiled in 1945 by members of the Zamorano Club, a Los Angeles-based group of bibliophiles. Collecting first editions of every volume on the list has become the goal of a number of book collectors, though to date only four people have completed the task.
The Zamorano Club was founded in 1928 and named for Agustín Vicente Zamorano, the first printer in California. A series of committees of Club members, including former American Smelting and Refining Company executive Henry Raup Wagner and bibliographer Robert Cowan, assembled a list of a hundred books, eventually whittled down to eighty. During this process, Cowan died, and his Bibliography of the History of California and the Pacific West was added to the list as a tribute.