Ensign & Thayer. Map of the Gold Regions of California...1849
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An significant Map in the History of the California Gold Rush
Ensign & Thayer
Map of the Gold Regions of California, Showing the Routes via Chagres and Panama, Cape Horn...
Framed size: 35 1⁄2" x 30"
Sheet size: 26 1⁄4" x 20 3⁄4"
New York: Ensign & Thayer, 1849
Literature: Carl I. Wheat, The Maps of the California Gold Region, 1848-1857, pg. 85
This vibrant map is a significant and extremely rare document of the California Gold Rush. Published in 1849, it offered prospective gold seekers all of the information necessary to make the arduous trek to the West Coast. Indeed, arriving in San Francisco safely was no easy feat during the mid-nineteenth century. Early pioneers, called “forty-niners,” traveled to California either by ship (often choosing to sail around the entire South American continent) or across North America in covered wagons. Both of the various overland and sea routes to California are illustrated on Ensign & Thayer’s extraordinary and thorough map.
In addition to showing the principal routes to California, Ensign & Thayer’s map also features a stunning ornamental border and includes two text boxes: “Important Directions to Persons Emigrating to California” and “Description of California, or the new Gold Region.” The second of the two texts concludes with the following laudatory statement: “Such is California - the richest, most picturesque and beautiful region, for its extent, upon the face of the earth. Such is the El Dorado of the Gold mines; and such is the great acquisition of the late war with Mexico.” Some cartographic scholars believe that Ensign & Thayer’s map, though first published separately in 1849, was later folded into numerous copies of Thomas Jefferson Farnham’s Life, Adventures, and Travels in California (1857, a copy of this is included with the map).
The California Gold Rush commenced on January 24, 1848, when gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California. News of the discovery spread quickly. In time, 300,000 people made their way to the West Coast. Such gold seekers originated from the United States, Latin America, Europe, Australia and Asia. As a result, scholars refer to the situation in California as the first truly international gold rush.