Lot 109 of 222:
Letter sent from San Francisco in 1841  

Click image to enlarge
Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyers Premium):$2,700
$800 - $1,200

Letter from Samuel Varney sent from San Francisco in 1841, to his wife, with mention of Hawaii and the U.S. Exploring Expedition

Varney, Samuel

San Francisco


October 28, 1841


Autograph letter signed Sam Varney, in ink, 2-2/3 pages on 4-page stampless cover. 24.7x19.7 cm (9¾x7¾").

Early letter sent from San Francisco by a Massachusetts merchant captain, with fascinating content, mentioning trips to Hawaii and Vancouver, and selling a ship to the United States Exploring Expedition under Charles Wilkes. The letter is headed Port. St. Francisco, California, Oct. 28th, 1841. Captain Varney begins his letter bemoaning the lack of communication from his far-away wife, "It is more than 12 months since I have had a single line from you which seems an age, there is yet however some excuse as I have been for the last seven months out of the way of getting letters from any where and you may say I have been almost out of the world...." After mentioning various ships he hopes may carry letters to him from his wife, he allows "now without joking I am a little more anxious to hear from home than I ever was before..." He then relates that "I have had a most horrifying(?) voyage since I left Oahu or in fact since I left New York so much so that no consideration would tempt me to undergo the same again knowingly however I hope it is drawing to a close as I am on my way to the Sandwich Islands by the first conveyance. I wrote you a letter at Vancouver when I left there to be sent to the Sandwich Islands but I shall probably be there as soon as it is... The most important fact to be understood is that I have sold the Thomas Perkins to the U.S. Exploring Expedition and am now a passenger on her on my way to Oahu we came in here to join the other vessels of the squadron and I begin to suspect that they will not go to Oahu if not I shall go down in the Mexican Schr. Californio to Oahu and shall get home from there as soon as possible..." The letter is addressed to Mrs. S. Varney, 18 Pickman St., Salem, Mass. There are three faint pencil letters , "S.B.T.," to the addressed portion, likely indicating the ship on board which the letter was to be carried. Samuel Varney (1797-1875) was a Salem, Massachusetts-born sea captain and ship owner.

Lot Amendments

Two holes in letter from being unsealed, with loss of some words, a few neat archival tape repairs; very good.

Item number:
Shipping info:

We have a full service shipping department to ensure proper packing and safe delivery of purchases at reasonable cost. We are specialists at packing and shipping books and works on paper.   All lots purchased by the same client are combined for shipping in order to keep the cost as economical as possible.  Our preferred method for domestic shipments is UPS Ground but we can also ship via FedEx or USPS Priority Mail. We do NOT ship USPS Media Mail under any circumstances.For international orders we select the most appropriate carrier depending on the value and weight of the items purchased.  We are happy to accommodate special arrangements by request.

Invoices are sent out the day following the auction and include a minimum $10 handling fee plus actual shipping and insurance charges.

Shipping estimates can be obtained  by contacting [email protected] prior to the auction.


Terms and conditions


All accepted bids are contracts and are considered final and non withdrawable.


A buyer's premium of 20% will be applied to all purchases.


The person posting the bids online has to be the person who has registered for the auction.