Lot 294 of 457:
Boston to San Francisco & back via Hawaii, 1852-4 journals  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyers Premium):$6,000
$6,000 - $9,000

Two journals kept by Matthew Pear on the voyage from Boston to San Francisco and the return voyage to Boston via the Sandwich and Society Islands, along with abstract logs he kept for each voyage, and lists of passengers, all bound together

Pear, Matthew

Various places




[2], 132, [32]; [1], 75, [43], [32 blank], [47] pp. Ink manuscript on various sizes and colors of paper. 25.3x20.2 cm (10x8"), period marbled boards, morocco cover label, leather corners, later calf spine. 

Exceptional pair of journals kept by a passenger bound for San Francisco in the midst of the gold rush, and his very quick return, leaving the Golden State just five and a half months after his arrival. Matthew Pear describes his voyages in vivid detail, with commentary on the weather, the food, illness, fellow passengers, the sea birds, and more. He also relates their occasional stops at ports along the way, including a lengthy sojourn at Rio de Janiero, and another at Papiete, of which he comments "This island is very healthy, & is one of the finest places in the world. Fruits are abundant and cheap... Fish are plenty and good..." He is much taken by Hawaii (Owyhee) as well, and writes about it at length. He also gives notice of the many ships they encounter, either bound for or returning from California.

The two journals are titled:

  • Journal of a voyage from Boston to San Francisco. On Board the Clipper Ship Golden Eagle, Captain Samuel A. Fabens, 1852-1853. Kept by Matthew Pear.
  • Journal of a voyage from San Francisco to Boston by way of the Sandwich & Society Islands. On board the Clipper Ship Contest, Captain William E. Brewster. 1853-54. Kept by Matthew Pear.

Of Papiete, "The harbor is a beautiful one and sufficiently large for all purposes... Crowds of natives are gathered on the beach surveying our fine vessel, the arrival of which has created quite an excitement... The natives appear to dislike the French very much. About six or seven years ago they forbid the Franch missionaries coming on the island, in consequence of which the French made war upon them and took the island..."

Of the Sandwich Islands: "Mon. Nov. 14, Rose at half past 6 and went on deck, the islands of Oahu, Mollicai, and Mowee in plain sight, and Owyhee dimly seen in the distance; came in sight of Diamond Point about half past 7 am..."

In Honolulu he "saw but few grog shops: these are licensed by the authorities by auction to the highest bidder; by this means a considerable revenue is obtained. The Custom House is plain & substandard looking, built of coral rock. There is a large one story building near the water, called the Government house..."

Of the Hawaiians, "Nearly every one here rides on horseback - men, women and children; the women ride astride and are very expert horsemen, The Kanaka are generally pretty well dressed; the wyhinas wear a long dress which hangs close to the body, and a small hat which sits on top of the head and is fastened under the head with a string. In consequence of the large number of 'whalers' in port, the town presents rather a lively appearance..."

Lot Amendments

Some of the leaves towards the end of the volume, which are a bit smaller and apparently bound in later, have some soiling and wear; but overall in very nice condition, an insightful and revealing pair of journals.

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