Catalog Archive

Auction 181, Lot 224

Features a Nefarious Chinatown Map

"[Map in Book] Official Map of Chinatown in San Francisco [bound in] San Francisco Municpal Reports for the Fiscal Year 1884-85, Ending June 30, 1885",

Subject: San Francisco, California

Period: 1885 (published)


Color: Printed Color

20.8 x 8.1 inches
52.8 x 20.6 cm

This municipal report for the city of San Francisco contains numerous detailed reports concerning all aspects of the city's business and is a comprehensive record of activities for the fiscal year 1884-85. This volume is best known for W.B. Farwell's 70-page "Report of the Special Committee on the Condition of the Chinese Quarter, and the Chinese in San Francisco " and the accompanying Chinatown map which appeared at the peak of the anti-Chinese movement in California.

The map itself is laid out by block and shows the distribution of Chinese gambling houses, opium "resorts", "Joss Houses", prostitution (white prostitution is also noted), and general Chinese occupancy. It is important to note that the map only reports what is on the first floor of each building, and certainly underestimates the actual activities in this vicinity (gambling in the basement, brothels above the ground floor, etc). In his report, Farwell notes that "it had been conceded and was unquestioned that this portion of the city was a standing menace to the health of the community." An excellent summary of the importance of the map can be found online in Susan Schulten's article Mapping Vice in San Francisco on her blog "Mapping the Nation." There are at least two versions of the map: a smaller version included here with the municipal report, and a large-scale, separately issued map (see second Rumsey reference). Both are rare, but the large-scale version is exceedingly so.

Thick octavo, xix, 710, 340 (appendix) pages plus folding color map. Published by the Board of Supervisors and printed by W.M. Hinton & Company in San Francisco. Hardbound in brown pebbled cloth with gilt title on spine.

References: Rumsey #5807; PJ Mode Collection #1093; cf. Rumsey #6714.001.

Condition: B+

Condition code is for the folding map, which is very good with some light scattered foxing at bottom and a thin dampstain along the top sheet edge. Text is mostly clean and bright. Front board is nearly detached. Covers are moderately worn with bumped edges, and the spine is lightly sunned.

Estimate: $750 - $900

Sold for: $1,100

Closed on 2/10/2021