I spent the bulk of my work time today cataloguing 12 issues of The Overland Monthly Magazine from 1887-1889. Founded by Bret Harte in 1868, The Overland Monthly aspired to be like Atlantic Magazine. Though it ceased publication in 1875, it returned in January 1883, labelled “Second Series,” and was published in San Francisco until July, 1935. Early work written by Ambrose Bierce, Mark Twain, Jack London, and Edwin Markham, among others, was published in the journal. Each month the magazine featured profiles of Western locales like Monterey, Fresno, Santa Rosa, Mt. Shasta, San Diego, Los Angeles, Alameda, and San Francisco along with stories of pioneers or those who had been in the gold mining camps. It’s an interesting piece of Western Americana, and you can see that it was probably intended to convince out-of-state people what a great place the West was. I plan to bring these to the book fair in San Francisco next month.
There are book reviews at the back of each issue, and I spent a good deal of time checking each one for reviews of early works by any of the authors mentioned above. What intrigued me the most, though, was the fold-out map of the then seven-year old University of Southern California (USC) in the back of one issue:
And the fantastic illlustrated advertisements:
How do you think they transported this large bottle of perfume to California?
Note the bear rug on which the girl stands. Just what I’d want to see if I lived on the East Coast. I could live in the rugged West and own a bear rug but still have my 400 gallon jug of perfume with me. (I’d need it to ward off the stench of all of those stinking miners.)
I spent at least as much time reading all the ads for fun as I did checking to see if any well-known authors had published pieces in the magazine.
There were also ads for cures for consumption:
And, my favorite, an ad for flea killer. Fleas were notorious at one time in the Bay Area — there is even a street in my town named Alameda de las Pulgas (Spanish for “Avenue of the Fleas”). Again, just the thing to make me want to move out West if I lived back East in those days. 😉
See you in the stacks!