1850 Hesse City Map or View of Sacramento, California (Gold Rush)

Sacramento-hesse-1850
$3,250.00
Sacramento in Californien: Des Auswanderers Hoffnung. / Sacramento in California: An Immigrants Hope.
Processing...

1850 Hesse City Map or View of Sacramento, California (Gold Rush)

Sacramento-hesse-1850

Sacramento at the height of the California Gold Rush!
$3,250.00

Title


Sacramento in Californien: Des Auswanderers Hoffnung. / Sacramento in California: An Immigrants Hope.
  1850 (undated)    11.5 x 16 in (29.21 x 40.64 cm)

Description


This is an important c. 1850 early German lithograph view of Sacramento, California, at the height of the California Gold Rush. Drawn shortly after the city's 1848 founding, the view looks east from the west side of the Sacramento River, revealing a bustling harbor and a still small city exploding with prosperity related to the 1849 discovery of placer gold at nearby Sutter's Mill. At this time, Sacramento was fast becoming a major distribution point, a commercial and agricultural center, and a terminus for wagon trains, stagecoaches, riverboats, the telegraph, the Pony Express, and, within a few years, the first transcontinental railroad. Some of this can be seen through this view, especially the development along J Street, and the building materials piled in the foreground. This is part of a series of views of American cities, including New York, issued by Hesse with a similar immigration theme.

The title of this image roughly translates as 'Sacramento in California: Hope of an Emigrant' (Sacramento in Californien: Des Auswanderers Hoffnung). In Germany, the failed March Revolution (1848-1849) led liberally minded political refugees, known collectively as the 'Forty-Eighters', to leaved Germany en masse for a new home in the United States. The revolutionaries in Germany sought a more democratic government, guarantees of human rights, and other liberal reforms. Many found their way to Texas, Wisconsin, and California, where they saw an opportunity for a new life free of traditional European autocratic governmental systems.

A great elephant billboard appears prominently on the façade of a building facing the port. The elephant figures prominently in the gold rush iconography and was a euphemism for traveling to California to be a part of the great adventure, or, as they said, to 'see the elephant.' The saying is derived from trips to the circus where the elephant was the highlight of the 'big top.'

Of additional note are the ships in the Sacramento River, among them a variety of sailing vessels and sidewheel steam ship. One of the ships, situated prominently at the head of J Street, features the flag that may be of the Texas. The significance of the Texas flag can be understood in relation to German immigration to the United States where, in addition to Sacramento and Wisconsin, Texas was popular destination.

There are at least two editions of this print, one bearing the imprint Berlin Magazin (Berlin, Alte Jacobs Str. 71) and one without. Otherwise their content is identical and it is not clear if one predates the other. The print is undated but most scholarship suggests it was printed between 1849 and 1851. All examples are very rare.

Cartographer


Johann Friedrich Hesse (November 24, 1792 - 1853) was a Berlin-based German painter and lithographer active in the 19th century. Hesse was born in Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, in 1792. His father was a musician and he received his education at the Magdeburg Provincial Art School and later at the Royal Academy of Dresden. There he studied under Schubert and Retsch. After graduating he lived for a time in Hamburg where he may have married Dorothea Loysa Koch in 1813. In 1838 Hesse again relocated, this time to Berlin, where he established a lithography studio and print shop to supplement his income as painter. Little is known of his life, nonetheless, both paintings and lithographs do appear on the market from time to time. In particular, he is known to have issued a series of images of American cities geared toward the German emigrant community.

Condition


Very good. Blank on verso.

References


Reps, John, Views and Viewmakers of Urban America (University of Missouri, Columbia, 1984), 218. UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library, BANC PIC 1963.002:0201—B.