[COMSTOCK LODE]. Views of the Works of the Gould & Curry Silver Mining Company, Virginia City, N. T. San Francisco: Britton & Co., [ca 1860].

$ 25,000.00

Oblong 4to., (10 x 13 4/8 inches). 13 tinted lithographed plates, plan of the mine, and one folding topographical view of the mine and Virginia City at end (some heavy spotting). Original plum cloth, gilt (rebacked to style, unevenly faded to brown).


First edition, and SCARCE, only six copies have been recorded in American institutions, and only one copy of the work has appeared at auction in the past 25 years. Claims to the richest known silver deposit in the United States were made in 1859 by Henry Tomkins Paige Comstock, after whom the mother lode on Mount Davidson in western Nevada was henceforth called. When Comstock disposed of his holdings, the lode became a scene of furious activity, centering on Virginia City.

Of the three mining companies established there in the early 1860s, Gould and Curry was the largest, employing 635 men and influencing local elections. "As 'Gould & Curry' goes, so goes the city," quipped Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), who, in 'Roughing It', recorded his experiences as a cub reporter in 1862 for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. "Laboring-men's wages were four and six dollars a day," Clemens continued, "and they worked in three 'shifts' or gangs and the blasting and picking and shoveling went on without ceasing, night and day ... Gould & Curry stock paid heavy dividends--a rare thing, and an experience confined to the dozen or fifteen claims located on the 'main lead,' the Comstock." Gould & Curry's smelting works, depicted in the south view plate, was located on Gold Hill, which contained the richest expanse of ore. Plate 12 depicts the 10-room mansion supplied to the company superintendent rent free. The house, now known as the Mackay mansion, stills stands today on "D" street as a testament to Virginia City's early opulence. Catalogued by Kate Hunter