Arader Galleries

Bird’s Eye View of Nevada City, Nevada County, Cal.

$ 28,000.00

Britton & Rey, Lithographers
Bird’s Eye View of Nevada City, Nevada County, Cal.
San Francisco: Britton & Rey, 1883
Sheet size: 25” x 37 ¾”
Framed size: 34 ½” x 46 ½”

This spectacular hand-colored lithograph is an excellent example of the work produced by Britton & Rey. It presents a broad and richly detailed view of Nevada City, California, one of the oldest and most important Gold Rush towns the northern California Grass Valley area. First settled in 1849, Nevada City became the County Seat after it was formed from a section of Yuba County in 1851. Moreover, during the mining boom in California, Nevada City had the third largest
population in the state.

This lithograph includes a wealth of information on Nevada City in 1883. Numbered keys included on both the lower left and lower right corners of the map indicate the locations of court houses, public schools, theaters, hotels, churches, foundries, breweries, nurseries, cemeteries, lumber yards, tunnels and, of course, mines. Multiple inset images also depict manufacturing, mining, lumber and other businesses.
The printing firm of Britton & Rey was undoubtedly the largest producer of lithographs in California. The two men were the Currier & Ives of the West, resembling that famous combination not only in the volume of their production but in their personal relationship as well.

Joseph Britton was an Englishman, born in Yorkshire in 1825. At ten years of age he came to America and lived in New York until he was 24. In 1849 the lure of the California Gold Rush struck him and he joined the George Gordon party, the first gold seekers to make the journey to California by way of Nicaragua. He went directly to the gold fields and prospected until he became discouraged by his lack of success and returned to San Francisco. There, in 1852, he formed a partnership with C.J. Pollard. The association was short-lived, however, for in the same year he set up
business as a lithographer with J.J. Rey.

Jacques-Joseph Rey was born in Bouxviller, Alsace, in 1820. As a young man he studied lithography. In 1850 he went by way of Panama to California, where, contrary to the custom of those days, he did not seek his fortune in the mines. Just what he did at first is not definitely known, but 1852 finds him entering into partnership with Joseph Britton. Three years later he married Britton’s sister, thus cementing a friendship and partnership, which accounts for some of the most
notable lithography done in California.

Joseph Britton remained a bachelor all his life. He lived always with the Rey family, a sign of the closeness of the two gentlemen’s friendship. In their lithographic business, Rey was undoubtedly the artist of the firm while Britton remained the businessman.