Media Information

Collection name:
David Rumsey Historical Map Collection
Whitney, J.D.
Watkins, C.E.
Short Title:
View: The Half Dome.
Julius Bien
Publisher Location:
New York
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Yosemite National Park
Full Title:
(View) The Half Dome.
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Engraver or Printer:
The New York Lithographing, Engraving and Printing Company
Publication Author:
Whitney, J.D.
Pub Date:
Pub Title:
The Yosemite Book; A Description of the Yosemite Valley and the Adjacent Region of the Sierra Nevada, and of the Big Trees of California, Illustrated by Maps and Photographs. Geological Survey of California. J.D. Whitney, State Geologist. Published by Authority of the Legislature. New York, Julius Bien. 1868.
Pub Note:
First edition, first printing. Issued in early 1869, although dated 1868. It sold for $10. One of the early and finest Yosemite books, the result of a government survey begun in 1863 under the direction of Josiah Dwight Whitney, the State Geologist, with Clarence King and James T. Gardner in the surveying party, and Carleton Watkins as the primary photographer. Charles Hoffman and William Brewer were other key team members. Josiah Dwight Whitney's and the California Geological Survey's The Yosemite Book was an early effort to domesticate the Sierra, to make the range accessible through scientific knowledge and reliable travel information. This is a beautiful book, a stunning government publication, designed to match the rugged beauty of the mountains in text, photographs, and maps. This volume includes 24 Carleton Watkins photographs and four by W. Harris. Photographically illustrated books were an unusual form of publication in the 19th Century. The use of photographic prints in books became possible only after Frederick Scott Archer's 1851 discovery of the wet-plate collodion process combining speed and sharpness while being capable of producing multiple copies of a print on paper. This process enabled the inclusion of photographs in books. The printing run of 250 copies of The Yosemite Book used 7,000 photographic prints! The two maps are: "Map of the Yosemite Valley from Surveys made by order of the Commissioners to manage the Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Big Tree Grove by C. King and J.T. Gardner," and "Map of a portion of the Sierra Nevada adjacent to the Yosemite Valley from surveys made by Chs. F. Hoffmann and J.T. Gardner, 1863-67." These maps are among the most detailed and largest scale maps published of Yosemite during this part of the 19th century, rivaled only by the Wheeler Survey map of Yosemite published in 1883. Much of the text in this note is taken from writings of Jim Snyder, formerly Historian for Yosemite National Park.
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Guide Book
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View: The Half Dome.