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One of the Great California Plate Books. With Superb Lithographs of California's Giant Sequoias.

This is the first edition, third issue (with three more plates called for by the title than the earlier issues), of Edward Vischer's great work on the Mammoth Grove trees of California. The book exhibits the work of Edward Vischer, a San Francisco businessman who became perhaps the best early California artist to have his works turned into important American plate books.

Vischer immigrated to Mexico from Germany when he was just nineteen to work for the commercial house Heinrich Virmond. From there he traveled to California in 1842, where he fell in love with the area and its scenery. He returned again to California in 1847 to work as a merchant and agent for foreign companies in San Francisco and stayed there for the Gold Rush. As a serious pastime, the amateur artist Vischer "took up the long-neglected pencil" making sketches of the natural wonders he encountered. 

In 1859 and 1861 he visited the Calaveras Grove of Big Trees and began producing sketches and finished drawings based on personal observation. Vischer returned many times to the groves of the Sequoia Gigantea Sempervirens and so was inspired to bring the majesty of the trees to a wider audienceThis issue of the book includes the following plates:

  • Vischer's Views of California. The Mammoth Tree Grove...
  • Plate I. The Approaches of the Grove. Views of the Mining Town of Murphy's The Starting Place of the Grove. Views from the Murphy or Big Tree Route Over the Sierra Nevada.
  • Plate II. Entrance to the Grove, Arriving from Murphy's.
  • Plate III. The Horseback Ride. Old Dominion and Uncle Tom's Cabin. Miner's Cabin, 1860. Pioneer's Cabin. Eagle's Wing. Miner's Cabin, 1855.
  • Plate IV. Mother of the Forest, (1855 and 1861,) and other groups.
  • Plate V. The Three Graves.
  • Plate VI. Mother and Son. From a Photograph.
  • Plate VII. Stump and Log of the Original Big Tree, 1855, from Photographs. The Father of the Forest.
  • Plate VIII. "The Two Guardsmen" at the Entrance of the Grove, 1861.
  • Plate IX. The Mammoth Grove Hotel, Grounds, and General View of the Forest.
  • Plate X. The Fallen Hercules of the Grove.
  • Plate XI. Hermit. Height 318 Feet; Circumference at the Base 60 Feet. In the Foreground The Burnt Tree, a Charred Trunk.
  • Plate XII. The Orphans. At the Entrance of the Grove from the Sierra Nevada.

This portfolio on the sequoias was Vischer's first published work, which, according to Currey & Kruska, was published in three lithographed variants. The first issue calls for nine lithographs in the title and includes nine. The second still calls for nine but includes all twelve. This, the third issue, calls for twelve and includes twelve. Apparently, Vischer was displeased with the work of C.C. Kuchel (or perhaps lithography in general) and later relied on albumen photographs of his drawings to illustrate his portfolios.

Vischer was responsible for two other great California plate portfolios Pictorial of California (1870) and Missions of Upper California (1872). 


C.K. McClatchy (of the McClatchy Newspapers family)

Condition Description
Folio. Loosely housed in original full brown cloth covers tooled in blind and gilt-lettered "Vischer's Portfolio of the Mammoth Tree Grove", pictorial and lettered pastedowns as-issued. Lithographed pictorial title, four pages of descriptive text (as a single wrapper leaf), and 12 plates with tinted lithographs onlaid, as issued. (i.e., complete) An exceptional example.
Cowan, page 662; Currey & Kruska, Yosemite, 376 (third issue); Farquhar 5; Howes V132, "b"; Streeter Sale 2877; Peters, California on Stone, pages 198-202.