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The stream of emigrants who left the East to obey Horace Greeley’s famous 1853 dictum also gave rise to a significant and interesting body of literature. No overland travelers suffered a more pathetic but lurid fate than the Donner Party, who had the misfortune to trust Lansford Hastings’ The Emigrant’s Guide (1845), here in lot 41, with an estimate of $50,000-100,000. His guide has been condemned as recommending the fatal desert route that so delayed the Donner Party that they were caught in the snow in 1846. Although it was frequently reprinted, it ironically did not contain a map. The copy offered here is unusual because it is sophisticated by an authentic upper wrapper obtained later by Warren Howell. The Party’s misfortunes were supposedly first documented by J. Quinn Thornton’s Oregon and California in 1848 (1849), here in lot 74, with an estimate of $1500-3000. The Zamorano 80 said this book contains the first printed account of the Donner Party. That honor, however, would seem to belong to Edwin Bryant’s What I Saw in California (1848), here in lot 12, with an estimate of $1000-1500. Also containing an account of the Donner Party, as was duly noted in The Zamorano 80, the book not only was published a year earlier than Thornton’s account, but also the Clifford copy had a contemporary manuscript provenance dated July 1, 1848. A more extensive examination of the disaster was provided by C. F. McGlashan’s History of the Donner Party (1879), here in lot 53, with an estimate of $600-1200. Although often criticized, this work remains the starting point for any study of the tragedy. A reminder that cold is not the emigrant’s only enemy is contained in William Lewis Manly’s Death Valley in ’49 (1894), here in lot 51, with an estimate of $200-400. Although not as well known as the Donner story, Manly’s description of his efforts to rescue his comrades lost and starving in Death Valley serves as a reminder that unfortunate emigrants were just as dead from heat as from cold.
Finally The Zamorano Club did not concentrate exclusively on works of fiction, history, and exploration. The compilers recognized that historical eras and events need guidance and interpretation from more modern, recent scholars. To that end, the Club included several more modern works that guide readers through the literature of California. The basic guide is, of course, H. H. Bancroft’s Works (1882-1890), here in lot 3, with an estimate of $3000-6000. His sections on California remain a starting point for historians. Robert Ernest Cowan’s elegant A Bibliography of the History of California and the Pacific West, 1510-1906 (1914), here in lot 23, with an estimate of $300-600, is as prized for its reading value as it is for its scholarship. It is the work that launched the Book Club of California’s publications. Encompassing a 1000 titles that Cowan thought the most significant to his subject, it has been surpassed only by its metamorphosed self. Feeling the need to flesh out the California materials, Cowan in 1933 published his A Bibliography of the History of California, 1510-1930 (1933), here in lot 23A, with an estimate of $250-500. Not a Zamorano 80 title, this book is nevertheless a necessary supplement to his original work. A literary, critical work is Ella Sterling Cummins’ The Story of the Files (1893), here in lot 24, with an estimate of $100-200. A book that records much information about California authors that might otherwise have been lost, it is also important for the emphasis it places on women writers and for the fact it was written by a woman.