Lot 173
Current Auction

Rare View of Sacramento Just After Gold Rush

"A Birds-Eye of Sacramento "The City of the Plain"", Britton & Rey

Subject: Sacramento, California

Period: 1857 (dated)


Color: Black & White

35 x 28.5 inches
88.9 x 72.4 cm

This lovely bird's-eye view of Sacramento was published just after the Gold Rush, and shows the growth and prosperity of the town as a result of the influx of money and immigrants to the area. The view is surrounded by 30 vignettes of important buildings in Sacramento, including the banking houses of B.F. Hastings and D.O. Mills, the Pacific Carriage Factory, Forrest Theater, the County Court House, St. Mary's Church, and several properties owned by railroading tycoons (Charles Crocker's Store and Stanford Brothers Wholesale Warehouse). There is also a vignette of Sutter's Fort from 1846 and another showing the Embarcadeo in 1849, demonstrating the incredible growth of the city in less than a decade. At top is the city seal for Sacramento, incorporating a bear, an eagle, a cornucopia, and a railroad. The city is viewed from the northwest, showing the Sacramento River filled with steamboats and sailboats.

The title of the view calls Sacramento the "City of the Plain," and the city's low, flat elevation and position at the confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers led to major floods in 1850 and 1853. Although projects were proposed after the 1853 flood to raise the city above the flood stage, the city did not act upon the proposals until an even more devastating flood in 1862.

Drawn, designed and published by George Holbrook Baker and printed by Britton & Rey in San Francisco. Baker, who had studied art at the National Academy of Design, immigrated to San Francisco during the Gold Rush in 1849. Baker held numerous types of jobs during his time in California, including mining for gold, editing and publishing periodicals, and drawing and publishing city views. Baker created a series of 3 large and detailed lithographs of Sacramento in 1857-58. This engraving is the first in the series. Backed in linen.

References: Reps #209 & p. 165.

Condition: B

Moderately toned with a darker vertical line of toning to the right of center, light soiling, some small abrasions, and pin holes in the corners of the sheet. There are a number of short tears along the edges of the sheet, a few of which enter 1/2" to 2" into the image. There is a small chip in the bottom left corner and a 12" tear at right that has been repaired.

Estimate: $1,400 - $2,000

Sold for: $1,300

Closed on 11/13/2019