Lot 6 of 96:
Superb California Gold Rush letter  

Click image to enlarge
Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyers Premium):$3,125
$5,000 - $8,000

Letter from gold seeker Oliver Breedlove to "Friend Jose," replete with fascinating and interesting details of California in the early days of the gold rush

Breedlove, Oliver H.

Woods Creek, California


June 22, [1850?]


Autograph letter signed. 4 pp. on blue unlined conjugate lettersheet, closely and neatly written in ink, approximately 2400 words total. 32x19.5 cm (12½x7¾").

Exceptional letter, with vivid descriptions, beginning with Monterey, where he disembarked and offers candid accounts of goings-on:

  • Worked on shore amongst, the Spaniards, learned a little of their lingo, viewed the neighboring country, saw many interesting objects, old churches (Catholic of course), ruined Missions, etc. We landed on the 26th of April - the country was very beautiful, covered with flowers of many kinds & of the richest hues. Wild oats grow here as high as my head, wild barley also. But there is no farming done here by the Spaniards. They keep many cattle and horses which comprise their whole Property. Not a fence in the country. The cattle, all branded, run at large. When they want a steer, they mount a horse, ride out and lasso a bullock. He is lead up to the Rancho, butchered and dressed in short order, then the meat is all cut from the bone in strips hung on poles to dry (called jerking). The bones are left for the dogs to knaw. Some two or three dozen are kept at each ranch for that purpose.... I have seen more than a hundred bullocks (remains) within 3 rods of a rancho from which, in hot weather, emits an odor agreeable to the Mexicans no doubt, but damned unpleasant to me.

The trek north-east to the Mariposa mines is recounted in vivid detail:

  • We left Monterey for the gold mines on foot. Felt mighty smart when we started. Had a plain to cross. First we travelled 15 miles through hot sand which brought us up by a river. Found ourselves on the wrong travels growing dark. Laid under a tree that night. Concert by the "Wolf Band" assisted by the "Owl Co.". Horrible music tho not so bad as they have at the Orthodox Church at Buxton...  Shooting ducks, pigeons, quails and shooting at wolves... great many of them here (wolves I mean). They don't meddle with men unless dead drunk. Then will knaw on him. Saw an Indian one day lasso a Wolf on the plain. Indian had a fine horse. The day was very hot. Sir Wolf, after running for 1/2 hour began to sag and the Indian closed on him and threw the lasso and caught him. They have some good horses here. Not fleshy and smooth as yours, but powerful muscles and long winded. And, if these fellows don't know how to ride I'll give you my boots... We travelled five days to reach the mines at Mariposa, being the nearest from Monterey... Many there waiting for the ground to dry up.
Disappointed in prospects at Mariposa they returned west to San Francisco to re-supply. After a visit of four days struck out for Woods Creek which they reached after a six day trek:
  • I have just been interrupted by some Mexicans come into our tent to buy pistols. Two men had their throats cut last night about a mile up the creek from here. There are some desperate scoundrels here and gold not so plentiful. They will murder for $1000...  A very great portion of the population around here are Mexicans. Most of them from Sonora... They come in parties a hundred at a time on mules and Jack-asses.... Last but not least, Grizzly Bears! One killed last winter weighed 1200 lbs. No 2 or 3 men would think of attacking one in open ground. It generally takes a dozen bulls to fetch one of them to the ground...

Plus further remarks regarding the dress of Mexican men and women, a less than favorable description of San Francisco, and much more.

Lot Amendments

Old folds, fine or nearly so.

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, USPS Priority Mail or DHL. 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 25% will be applied to all purchases.


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



Property listed in our online or print catalogues will be sold by PB Auction Galleries, dba PBA Galleries, as agent for others subject to the following terms and conditions.  Clients placing bids at auction agree to pay the full purchase price of any lots for which the client is the winning bidder and further acknowledge and agree to these Conditions of Sale.  PBA Galleries reserves the right to amend these by notice or oral announcement at the sale.

1.  All bids are to be per lot as numbered in the catalogue.

2.  PBA Galleries reserves the right to withdraw any property for sale at any time prior to its final sale.

3.   Unless specified, each lot is offered subject to a reserve, generally one-half of the low estimate.  PBA Galleries does not accept reserves of more than the low estimate nor allow consignors to bid on their own items.

4.   PBA Galleries reserves the right to reject a bid from any bidder.  The highest bidder acknowledged by PBA Galleries shall be the purchaser.  In the event of any dispute between bidders or in the event the auctioneer doubts the validity of any bid, the auctioneer shall have sole and final discretion either to determine the successful bidder or to re-offer and resell the article in dispute.  If any dispute arises after the sale, our sales records shall be conclusive in every respect.

5.  The “hammer price” is the price at which a lot is sold or the highest accepted bid at the close of the lot.  The “purchase price” paid by the winning bidder is the aggregate of (a) the hammer price, (b) a buyer’s premium of 25% of the hammer price up to $100,000, plus 20% of the amount above $100,000, and (c) applicable California state and local sales taxes.  California state and local taxes will be collected except where sold to a purchaser outside of California and shipped to the purchaser or the purchaser has a valid California resale license and provides such documentation to PBA Galleries.

6.  Payment terms:  All items are to be paid for by cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, wire transfer, cashier’s check, e-check or personal check with approved credit or through Paypal.  Wire transfers are accepted for all international transactions and any domestic transaction over $1000.  PBA Galleries offers a 1% discount on purchases paid by cash, check or wire transfer over $1000 on invoices paid within 10 business days of the sale.  The discount does not extend to shipping and handling charges.  PBA Galleries reserves the right to hold items paid for by personal check until the check has cleared the bank.  Buyer agrees to pay PBA Galleries $50 for any returned check.  Invoices are due upon receipt.  Merchandise is shipped only after full payment has been received. 

7.  Purchases that have gone unpaid twenty (20) business days after the sale are subject to any or all of the following:  (a) late charge of five percent (5%) of the total purchase price per month; (b) cancellation of the sale; (c) rescindment of bidding privileges at future auctions; (d) initiation of legal proceedings to collect the entire debt including original purchase price, late charges, and legal fees and costs to the fullest extent permitted by law; and (e) any other action or actions PBA Galleries finds necessary and appropriate.

8.  Purchases must be removed within five (5) business days of cleared payment unless shipping instructions are received by PBA Galleries.  If not removed, property will be held at the sole risk of the purchaser and no responsibility is assumed if such goods are lost, stolen, damaged, or destroyed. PBA Galleries reserves the right to store unclaimed purchases either in our office storage facilities or a public warehouse at the expense of the purchaser.  Purchaser will be charged 10% of the purchase price/month for storage. PBA Galleries assumes no liability for any damages incurred during storage. 

9.  In order to prevent inaccuracy in delivery or inconvenience in the settlement of a purchase, no lot can be transferred.  Each buyer must pay for the whole of his purchases before any lot can be removed.

10. PBA Galleries has an in-house shipping department and will ship property via UPS, USPS, FedEx, or DHL.  PBA Galleries will not ship via USPS Media Mail.  Total shipping costs include a packing fee, carriage and insurance.  PBA Galleries will not be responsible for any loss of damage resulting from the shipping in excess of the amount of insurance.  Property is shipped only after payment has cleared.

11.  If purchased property cannot be delivered in the same condition as at the time of sale, due to fire, theft, loss or any other reason, PBA Galleries’ liability will be limited to the sum actually paid by the purchaser.  In no event, will compensatory or other damages be included. 

12.  Any and all information provided by PBA Galleries, including all employees of PBA Galleries, in its catalogs, other written or oral descriptions, email or elsewhere are qualified statements of opinion.  They are not intended to represent warranties or representations of any kind or nature with respect to the property or its value, merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or whether the purchaser acquires any copyrights.  In no event shall PBA Galleries or the consignor be responsible for the correctness of description, genuineness, attribution, provenance, authenticity, authorship, completeness, condition of the property or estimate of value.

13.   Property may be returned by the purchaser, the sale rescinded and the purchase price refunded only under the following conditions:  (1) printed books which prove upon collation to be defective in text or illustration (provided such defects are not indicated within the catalogue or at the sale), and (2) autographs which prove not to be genuine (if this can be demonstrated and if not indicated in the catalogue or at the sale).  Printed books are not returnable for defects not affecting text and illustration, including, but not limited to, lack of half-titles, lists of plates, binder’s instructions, errata, blanks, or advertisements.  No returns will be accepted unless written notice is received by PBA Galleries within fourteen (14) days of the sale of the property and the property is returned in the same condition as it was at the time of the sale.  No lot is returnable on account of property included but not specifically named and described in such lot.  Lots selling for less than one hundred fifty dollars ($150) are sold as final sale and not subject to return for any reason.

14.  As a service to clients unable to attend the Sale in person, we accept absentee bids in advance of the sale by telephone or in writing submitted by email or fax.  All bids must state the highest bid price the bidder is willing to pay.  “Buy” bids are not accepted.  PBA Galleries accepts no responsibility for failure to execute such bids or any errors contained on submitted bid forms.

15.  Photographs, prints and other fine art multiples are sold in compliance with California law and PBA Galleries’ catalogue descriptions of such multiples to the applicable provisions of that law.

16.  SPECIAL NOTE TO NON-US BUYERS: All customs declarations will reflect the full invoice value. Any resultant duties, tariffs and/or taxes are the sole responsibility of the buyer.

17.  Watches are sold as is and it is the responsibility of the bidder to determine condition at the preview. PBA Galleries makes no warranty that any watch is in working order or that any component part is in original condition. Unless specifically described in a lot’s description, a manufacturer’s certificate of authenticity is not available and a manufacturer’s refusal to service or repair a watch due to the presence of replacement parts shall not constitute grounds to rescind a sale. Any repairs that might be required to return the watch to good working order are the responsibility of the purchaser.

All sales held by PBA Galleries are conducted pursuant to Section 2328 of the Commercial Code and Section 535 of the Penal Code of the State of California.