Itineraires aux Mines de la Nevada.
Published c.1868, Paris
Size: 26.5" X 21"
Condition: Very Good. Edge wear. Minor edge repairs, some soiling.
An extremely rare engraver’s proof state geological map of the Sierra Nevada mountains compiled during the Silver Rush that began in 1859 following the discovery of the Comstock Lode located under the eastern slope of the Mount Davidson in Virginia city, Nevada. It is argued that this proof state “is almost certainly a direct copy of the original manuscript map complied by Guillemin-Tarayre in San-Francisco in December 1864…”
As mentioned the map was produced during the Nevada Silver Rush that began a decade after the California Gold Rush of 1849. Both these Gold and Silver Rushes were instrumental in spurring the developmental growth of San Francisco specifically and Nevada in general. In fact, Nevada would achieve Statehood in 1864, some five years after Load’s discovery. Furthermore, the moniker of “the Silver State” attributed to Nevada comes from this era.
The Comstock Lode is also important to development of silver mining in the Unites States because prior to this discovery, Americans knew very little in the methods used for extraction and processing. It is a testament to American success in establishing a viable silver mining industry that the amount of ore mined out of the Comstock Lode transformed the global economy after its discovery.
Yet, it is the political component associated with this map that makes Guillemin-Tarayres’ surveys fascinating. In 1861, the French Emperor, Napoleon III, launched a full scale invasion of Mexico to secure its debt obligations in what is known as The Second French Intervention. This Intervention lasted until 1867, during which time the Commission Scientifique, Littéraire, et Artistique du Mexique (CSLAM) was established, with Guillemin-Tarayre being in charge of the geological division. Although his geological surveys were to be limited to Mexico, Guillemin-Tarayre expanded the focus of his surveys in 1864 to former Mexican territories, which included parts of California and Nevada. The current proof state of this geological map represents the culmination of his endeavours in the area of the coveted Comstock Lode. It is important to note that these surveys were conducted during the height of the American Civil War when the outcome was still unknown, and when French interest in Mexico’s former territories in California and Nevada might have been somewhat enticing depending on the outcome of the Civil War.
It should be underlined that proof states are quite rare in that they were made in limited quantities so as allow a template for engravers to produce the final copy for publishing before being discarded. As such, this particular proof state is of great importance to collectors and historians alike, in that it provides a window into the international interest that surrounded the Comstock Lode that helped create the condition for Nevada’s Statehood during one of the most strenuous periods associated with the young American nation.