Two Years Before the Mast: A Personal Narrative of Life at Sea.

“He who dares to teach must never cease to learn": Rare First Edition, First Issue of Dana's Two Years Before the Mast: A Personal Narrative of Life at Sea

Two Years Before the Mast: A Personal Narrative of Life at Sea.

DANA JR., Richard Henry.


Item Number: 111925

New York: Harper & Brothers, 1840.

First edition, first issue of Dana’s record of his maritime travels in the 1830s from Boston to California and back—“our only trustworthy account before the 1849 Gold Rush.” 12 mo, original publisher’s printed tan muslin cloth. Housed in a custom chemise and morocco box. First issue with dot over the “i” in the word “in” on copyright page, and the unbroken running head on page 9. First state of BAL’s binding type ‘B’ with list of title in the Harper’s Family Library ending at number 105. In near fine condition, rebacked. Scarce and desirable.

“One of the first and freshest, because of its plain factual nature, of American accounts of the sea, the book has added importance because, while the brig was assembling hides for the return trip to Boston, Dana journeyed up into the California cattle country, of which he gives us our only trustworthy account before the 1849 gold rush” (Grolier American 100 46). “Dana’s work is invaluable for its descriptions of California ranching and social life in Mexican times” (Streeter IV:2493). This authoritative account is hailed as “both literature and Americana of outstanding consequence” (Bennett, 86). "If not the most widely read book on California, certainly this ranks extremely high on such a list. The author sailed up and down the California coast, trading for hides, from January 1835, until May 1836. He possessed not only extraordinarily keen powers of observation but a fine facility for expressing his ideas in writing, which makes this volume an excellent and very readable record of his experiences" Zamorano. BAL 4434; Cowan p.156; Graff 998; Howes D49; Zamorano Eighty 26. It is the basis for the 1946 film starring Alan Ladd, Brian Donlevy, William Bendix, and Barry Fitzgerald.

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