San Francisco: Mrs. F.A. Day, 1859 (July). First Edition. Large 8vo. (253 x 170 mm). -240 pp., 8 pp. ads at end. With a two-color lithograph portrait of Isaac J. Sparks; hand-colored lithograph of a Bearded Jay. Original illustrated wrappers (repaired), the front cover being a steel engraving by the Nahl Brothers. Text foxed, waterstaining (SEE IMAGES). With stated condition problems, and priced accordingly. Item #3347
ONE OF THE EARLIEST VOICES FOR WOMEN IN THE WEST. Published by women, for women, this tattered issue is from the first successful women's magazines to appear west of the Rockies, literary or otherwise, preceded only by The Contra Costa which ran for only one year.
The Hesperian was edited and published almost single-handedly by Hermione Day from cramped rooms; the magazine ran from 1858 to 1862 and featured not only material of traditional interest to women (home, children, fashion and food) but an unusually broad range fiction, poetry, natural history, the Indians and pioneers of California, and much more. Day wrote numerous articles herself. In addition to running a serious monthly magazine, she kept her own fashion shop, and she ran a household, an impressive feat for a career woman, even by today's standards. In 1863, the name of The Hesperian was changed to the Pacific Monthly and was run by the fiery Lisle Lester.
When The Hesperian first appeared, "Women’s rights advocates existed, but had few means of spreading the word on job inequality besides letters to the editor. In 1858 they got their voice in San Francisco with a new woman’s literary magazine, The Hesperian. The editor Mrs. A.M. Schultz resigned after three issues, but her assistant, Mrs. Hermione Day, continued publishing a paper twice a month, taking on labor, addressing inequality, lack of opportunity and lower wages for women. In 1860 she expanded her business to include job, book, and fancy printing, and hiring more women."
The present issue is noteworthy in that Hermione Day provides a biographical account of Isaac J. Sparks, who was at the time STILL LIVING; and is illustrated with a lithograph portrait by Charles Frederick after a photograph by W. Shaw "expressly for the Hesperian." There is also a hand-colored lithograph of the California Bearded Jay after an original drawing by A.J. Grayson, the "Audubon of the West." The lithograph was executed by Charles Kuchel and Emil Dresel, of San Francisco, who were among the earliest lithographers in the West. "Kuchel immigrated from Switzerland to America in the 1840s and by 1853 had moved to San Francisco, where he became a partner with Dresel in a lithography firm that specialized in views of California cities and mining towns. Dresel had worked as an architect in Wiesbaden, Germany before joining the Gold Rush in 1849. He sketched throughout Northern California and Oregon in the 1850s and the partnership produced lithographs made from his sketches" (see the 1997 Bancroft exhibition: "I am bound to stick awhile longer": The California Gold Rush Experience, now online). An account of an Indian burial discovery by W. Wadsworth is entitled "The Earliest Pioneer of All: A Digger Woman of the Olden Time" (she is described as being two hundred years old).
On the significance of Hesperion, see Marion Tinling, "Hermione Day and the Hesperian" (in: California History, vol. 59, no. 4, Winter 1980/1981). Cummins, The Story of the Files: A Review of California Writers and Literature (1893), pp. 100-101.