Sign In

- Or use -
Forgot Password Create Account
This item has been sold, but you can enter your email address to be notified if another example becomes available.

Panoramic View of San Francisco from Russian Hill

Based on a Photograph by Fardon

An original unused 19th century California pictorial lettersheet illustrated with a detailed wood engraving of San Francisco. This lettersheet was published by Hutchings & Rosenfield who were prominent Gold Rush-era publishers of important illustrated works about California. The letterpress beneath the panoramic view states that the view of San Francisco was made "from a Photograph, by G. R. Fardon, taken in front of Judge Freelon's residence on Russian Hill, a short distance north of Pacific street." George Robinson Fardon (1807-1886) was a pioneer San Francisco photographer who came to the Bay Area during the Gold Rush in 1849. Initially making some of the earliest daguerreotypes in San Francisco, Fardon is credited with introducing the glass plate negative process to the region in 1852. Fardon developed a special process of transferring glass plate negatives onto paper.

The evocative engraving, with is signed by T. Armstrong and Victor Hoffman, shows a bustling city just settling down to business after experiencing the throes of the Gold Rush. Several tall-masted ships docked in the bay are visible in the distance. The characteristic built environment of the city is clearly depicted with an expanse of mostly wooden row houses, fenced back yards, with four or five churches scattered about. The printed text extols the city as large and beautiful, with a population estimated at from 60,000 to 70,000. And while the text makes reference to "long lines of fire-proof buildings which now ornament her long and numerous streets," the argonauts of 1849 could hardly have imagined the devastation in store for the city in the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake and fires.


While Hutchings and Rosenfield used the same panoramic view in their lettersheets California in 1858 (Baird 241) and California in 1861 (Baird 249), the present 1859 lettersheet is not recorded in Baird's bibliography of California's Pictorial Lettersheets.  WorldCat locates one copy of the 1858 version, which is in the Bancroft Library, while the present 1859 issue is not recorded in WorldCat. A copy of this 1859 issue, also on blue wove paper, was in the Henry H. Clifford collection.

Condition Description
Lettersheet on blue wove paper. Illustrated with large wood engraving (image measures: 14.75 x 5.5 inches). Some minor edge nicks to the sheet. The usual vertical fold through the middle of the sheet, also a horizontal fold roughly through the middle. Slight separation at intersection of the folds near center of sheet. Withal, very good.
Dorothy Sloan Rare Books, The Henry H. Clifford collection. Part three: California Pictorial Letter sheets: 244. cf. Baird, California's Pictorial Lettersheets 241 (1858 version) & 249 (1861 version). On Fardon cf. Palmquist & Kailbourn, Pioneer Photographers of the Far West, pages 223-224.