The Zamorano 80: A Selection of Distinguished California Books Made by Members of the Zamorano Club. Los Angeles: Zamorano Club, 1945.

At the time of its founding in 1928, the purpose of the Zamorano Club was “to establish contact and encourage exchange of thought among its members, who shall be men interested in Fine Books. To gather and maintain a collection of books and other objects relating to or illustrating the arts of the book. To produce occasionally such books or pamphlets as will promote the aims of the Club.” During the Club’s first year, all Club meetings were devoted to the printing arts. However, change was in the wind. In 1928, Leslie Bliss, Librarian of the Huntington Library in San Marino, was one of the first individuals admitted to the club after its founding. He was followed in 1929 by Phil Townsend Hanna, editor of Westways, and by Robert Cowan, the great bibliographer of the history of California. In 1931 Henry Wagner was admitted to the Club. All these men were great western historians, and they began to create a new branch of interest in the Zamorano Club.

It happened this way. Henry Wagner had moved to San Francisco in 1918. He had worked for the Guggenheims at the American Smelting and Refining Company. He had fulfilled his career aims and chosen to retire to do what he loved: book collecting and bibliography. One of Wagner’s first actions on settling in California was to determine if there was a California Historical Society. He found that there was one, but that it was dormant. Wagner persuaded C. Templeton Crocker, heir to the Crocker fortune of the Big Four fame and a serious book collector, to underwrite the society’s revival. Wagner’s real interest was to create a society quarterly, and he promptly dragged his friend, Robert Cowan, onto the Publication Committee for the soon to be published quarterly. In 1931, this publication committee decided to write a short piece entitled “Twenty Rarest and Most Important Works Dealing with the History of California.” Henry Wagner and Robert Cowan, both members of the publications committee, and Leslie Bliss from the Huntington Library were asked to submit nominations. Each made a selection of twenty titles, though there was some overlap. Their selections were published in Volume 10 number 1 (March 1931) of the Quarterly of the California Historical Society.

Phil Hanna responded to this article quickly. To the initial selections (and there were some overlaps among the three contributors) he added his own twenty-five. While Wagner, Cowan and Bliss had emphasized rarity, Hanna selected a number of books that were within the reach of the average reader. He then wrote a book on the combined selections called Libros Californianos, published by Jake Zeitlin’s Primavera Press that same year. The book featured an extended essay on California literature, justifying the selections he had made. It was published in an edition of 1,000, and Hanna had fifty additional copies done in a special binding which he gave as a keepsake to the members of the Zamorano Club in November 1931. This was the Club’s twenty-eighth keepsake, and the second relating to California history.

The interest in California history and books important in the development of the state continued to ferment in the thirties. During that decade, J. Gregg Lane (1930), and Robert Cleland (1934) joined the Club.

By the end of the decade it appears that Phil Hanna had encouraged the Club to publish a book listing the 100 most important books that a serious collector of Californiana would have in his library. The Club agreed, and set up a committee made up of Cleland, Cowan, Hanna, Layne, and Wagner. Between 1940 and the spring of 1942, each member submitted his own list of 100 entries. When they were compared, it was found that fifty-two entries were on all the lists. The committee discussed and debated on this long list of titles and were able to cobble together a selection of slightly over 100 titles on which all members agreed. By that time, Robert Cowan was in the hospital with a terminal illness. The list was given to him for review. Cowan blessed this list and added three additional titles. He died on May 25, 1942.

The list of slightly more than 100 items plus Cowan’s three was allowed to age during the balance of 1942. It is believed that Cowan’s Bibliography of the History of California and the Pacific West was then added to the list as a tribute to this renowned scholar.

While all seemed well, the committee began to have second thoughts. A new round of debates began, and the committee found they could no longer unanimously agree on all the titles. As a compromise, the committee lowered its sights to the eighty titles on which all members did agree. These were memorialized in the Zamorano 80. Robert Cleland resigned from the committee during this period. Apparently he was too deeply involved in writing his monumental histories at this time and could not devote energy to the project. With Cowan’s death and Cleland’s resignation, the committee needed additional hands to complete the next phase of the project-writing the précis of each book on the list. Robert Woods, who joined the Club in 1942, was added to the committee. Woods was a well-known collector of Western Americana and made major contributions to the final product. Homer Crotty, who was Club president in 1943-44, joined in to write the review of Hoffman’s Reports of Land Cases and Brown’s Report of the Debates. All the write-ups were essentially complete by November 1943.

At the Club’s December 1943 meeting the Committee presented its list and book reviews for the eighty books to the Board of Governors. The list was technically kept a secret, but the minutes for the December 1943 Club meeting indicate that it was revealed to the twenty-six Zamorano members in attendance. The list was kept from booksellers until its actual release in June 1945.

During 1944 Roland Baughman was assigned the task of checking all the bibliographical information on the completed list, and during the second half of 1944 a publication subcommittee made up of Dana Jones, Don Hill, and Homer Crotty performed the final editing on the project. In January 1945, Homer Crotty wrote the foreword for the book and the manuscript was sent to Bruce McCallister for printing. This was McCallister’s final printing work for the Club.

The Club printed 500 copies of The Zamorano 80. A copy was given to each member at the June 6, 1945 meeting. On June 8, Dawson’s Book Shop bought 300 of the remaining copies. In all, the Club had spent $1,699.93 to present this book to the world.

What has been the significance of this little book in the collecting world? First, it has been very difficult to obtain all eighty titles. Only four individuals were able to accomplish this. Thomas Streeter was the first to complete a collection of all eighty items; he sold his books at auction between 1966 and 1969. Frederick Beinecke was the second. He finished by buying Streeter’s copy of The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta, the Celebrated California Bandit by Yellow Bird (John R. Ridge), the only item he was missing. He immediately gave his collection to the library named after his family at Yale University, which remains the only institution to hold all eighty items in first edition. Henry Clifford was the third collector to complete the Zamorano 80; his collection was sold at auction in 1995. The most recent complete collection was assembled by Daniel Volkmann. The auction of his books in 2003 fetched $883,608.25!

Some notoriety was given to the Zamorano 80 by Steven Blumberg. This “collector” had built his library by stealing books in many different fields from major institutions throughout the country. While he did not get all eighty items, this was one of his long-term goals at the time of his arrest.

Will anyone complete a collection of the Zamorano 80 again? This will be very difficult, since there are only two identified copies of The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta, and one of those is in the Beinecke Library at Yale. There are rumors that a third copy exists in Europe. It is also known that Jennie Crocker-Henderson owned a copy, but she lent it out and it was never returned. So “Yellow Bird” remains the Holy Grail of Californiana.

The majority of these publications are available in full texts on the Web. We are indebted to George Boeck for tracking down these links. A PDF file of the original Zamorano 80 can be downloaded by clicking here.

See also, The Zamorano Select page and our selected bibliography of publications

  1. Gertrude Atherton, THE SPLENDID IDLE FORTIES: STORIES OF OLD CALIFORNIA. New York: Macmillan, 1902. Digital text.
  2. Mary Austin, THE LAND OF LITTLE RAIN. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1903. Digital texts 123.
  3. Hubert Howe Bancroft, WORKS. San Francisco: A.L. Bancroft & Co., 1882-1890.
  4. Frederick William Beechey, NARRATIVE OF A VOYAGE TO THE PACIFIC AND BEERING’S STRAIT. London: Henry Colburn & Richard Bentley, 1831. Digital texts 12.
  5. Horace Bell, REMINISCENCES OF A RANGER. Los Angeles: Yarnell, Caystile & Mathes, 1881. Digital texts 12.
  6. Anthony J. Bledsoe, INDIAN WARS OF THE NORTHWEST: A CALIFORNIA BOOK. San Francisco: Bacon & Company, 1885. Digital text.
  7. Herbert Eugene Bolton, ANZA’S CALIFORNIA EXPEDITIONS. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1930. Digital text.
  8. John David Borthwick, THREE YEARS IN CALIFORNIA. Edinburgh: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1857. Digital texts 12.
  9. William Henry Brewer, UP AND DOWN CALIFORNIA IN 1860-1864: THE JOURNAL OF WILLIAM H. BREWER. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1930. Digital text.
  10. John Henry Brown, REMINISCENCES AND INCIDENTS OF EARLY DAYS OF SAN FRANCISCO (1845-1850). San Francisco: Mission Journal Publishing Company, [1886]. Digital text.
  11. John Ross Brown, REPORT OF THE DEBATES IN THE CONVENTION OF CALIFORNIA. Washington, DC: John T. Towers, 1850. Digital text.
  12. Edwin Bryant, WHAT I SAW IN CALIFORNIA. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1849. Digital texts 12.
  13. Peter Hardeman Burnett, RECOLLECTIONS AND OPINIONS OF AN OLD PIONEER. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1880. Digital texts 12.
  15. Carlos Antonio Carrillo, EXPOSICIÓN DIRIGIDA A LA CÁMARA DE DIPUTADOS DEL CONGRESSO … Mexico: Imprenta del C. Alejandro Valdés, 1831.
  16. James H. Carson, EARLY RECOLLECTIONS OF THE MINES, AND A DESCRIPTION OF THE GREAT TULARE VALLEY. Stockton: San Joaquin Republican, 1852. Digital text.
  17. Samuel Clemens [Mark Twain], THE CELEBRATED JUMPING FROG OF CALAVERAS COUNTY AND OTHER SKETCHES. New York: C.H. Webb, 1867. Digital text (one among many).
  18. Samuel Clemens [Mark Twain], ROUGHING IT. Hartford: American Publishing Company, 1872. Digital texts 123 et al.
  20. Walter Colton, THREE YEARS IN CALIFORNIA. New York: A.S. Barnes & Co., 1850. Digital texts 12.
  21. Ina Donna Coolbrith, SONGS FROM THE GOLDEN GATE. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1895. Digital text.
  22. Miguel Costansó, DIARIO HISTÓRICO DE LOS VIAGES DE MAR … Mexico: De Orden del Excmo. Sr. Virrey, Imprenta del Superior Gobierno, [1770].
  23. Robert Ernest Cowan, A BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THE HISTORY OF CALIFORNIA AND THE PACIFIC WEST, 1510-1906. San Francisco: John Henry Nash, 1914. Digital text.
  24. Ella Sterling Cummins, THE STORY OF THE FILES: A REVIEW OF CALIFORNIAN WRITERS AND LITERATURE. San Francisco: Cooperative Printing Co., 1893. Digital text.
  25. Harrison Clifford Dale, THE ASHLEY-SMITH EXPLORATIONS AND THE DISCOVERY OF A CENTRAL ROUTE TO THE PACIFIC, 1822-1829. Cleveland: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1918. Digital text.
  26. Richard Henry Dana, TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST: A PERSONAL NARRATIVE OF LIFE AT SEA. New York: Harper, 1840. Ditital texts 123 et al.
  27. William Heath Davis, SIXTY YEARS IN CALIFORNIA. San Francisco: A.J. Leary, 1889. Digital texts 12.
  28. Winfield J. Davis, HISTORY OF POLITICAL CONVENTIONS IN CALIFORNIA, 1849-1892. Sacramento: California State Library, 1893. Digital texts 12.
  29. Alonzo Delano, OLD BLOCK’S SKETCH BOOK; OR, TALES OF CALIFORNIA LIFE. Sacramento: James Anthony, 1856.
  30. Eugène Duflot de Mofras, EXPLORATION DU TERRITOIRE DE L’OREGON, DES CALIFORNIES ET DE LA MER VERMEILLE … Paris: Arthus Bertrand, 1844. Digital text.
  31. Auguste Bernard Duhaut-Cilly, VOYAGE AUTOUR DU MONDE, PRINCIPALEMENT À LA CALIFORNIE ET AUX ILES SANDWICH … Paris: Arthus Bertrand, 1835-35.
  32. John W. Dwinelle, THE COLONIAL HISTORY OF THE CITY OF SAN FRANCISCO. San Francisco: Towne & Bacon, 1863.
  33. William Hemsley Emory, NOTES OF A MILITARY RECONNAISSANCE … Washington, DC: Wendel and Benthuysen, 1848.
  34. Zephyrin Engelhardt, THE MISSIONS AND MISSIONARIES OF CALIFORNIA. San Francisco: James H. Barry, 1908-16. Digital text.
  35. [Portolá.] ESTRACTO DE NOTICIAS DEL PUERTO DE MONTERREY … Mexico: Con licencia y orden, del Exmo. Señor Virrey, Impr. del Superior Govierno, 1770.
  36. Thomas J. Farnham, TRAVELS IN THE CALIFORNIAS AND SCENES IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN. New York: Saxton & Miles, 1844. Digital text.
  37. José Figueroa, MANIFIESTO A LA REPÚBLICA MEJICANA … Monterey: Agustén V. Zamorano, 1835.
  38. Alexander Forbes, CALIFORNIA: A HISTORY OF UPPER AND LOWER CALIFORNIA … London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1839. Digital text.
  39. John Charles Frémont, REPORT OF THE EXPLORING EXPEDITION TO THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS IN THE YEAR 1842 … Washington, DC: Gales and Seaton, 1845. Digital text.
  40. Bret Harte, THE LUCK OF ROARING CAMP AND OTHER SKETCHES. Boston: Fields, Osgood, 1870. Digital text (one of many).
  41. Lansford W. Hastings, THE EMIGRANTS’ GUIDE TO OREGON AND CALIFORNIA. Cincinnati: George Conclin, 1845. Digital texts 12.
  42. Theodore Henry Hittell, THE ADVENTURES OF JAMES CAPEN ADAMS, MOUNTAINEER AND GRIZZLY BEAR HUNTER, OF CALIFORNIA. San Francisco: Towne and Bacon, 1860. Digital text.
  43. Theodore Henry Hittell, HISTORY OF CALIFORNIA. San Francisco: Pacific Press Publishing House and Occidental Publishing Co., 1885-97. Digital texts: vol. 1vol. 2.
  44. Ogden Hoffman, REPORTS OF LAND CASES … San Francisco: Numa Hubert, 1862. Digital text.
  45. Simeon Ide, A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF WILLIAM B. IDE. Claremont, NH, 1880. Digital text.
  46. Helen Hunt Jackson, RAMONA. Boston: Roberts Bros., 1884. Digital texts 12 et al.
  47. Clarence King, MOUNTAINEERING IN THE SIERRA NEVADA. Boston: James B. Osgood and Company, 1872. Digital texts 123.
  48. Otto von Kotzebue, ENTDECKUNGS-REISE IN DIE SÜD-SEE UND NACH DER BERINGS-STRASSE … Weimar, Gebrüdern Hoffmann, 182. Digital text.
  49. [Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse,] VOYAGE DE LA PÉROUSE AUTOUR DU MONDE … 1797. Digital text.
  50. Zenas Leonard, NARRATIVE OF THE ADVENTURES OF ZENAS LEONARD. Clearfield, PA: D.W. Moore, 1839. Digital text.
  51. William Lewis Manly, DEATH VALLEY IN ’49: IMPORTANT CHAPTER OF CALIFORNIA PIONEER HISTORY. San Jose: Pacific Tree and Vine Co., 1894. Digital texts 12.
  52. Frank Marryat, MOUNTAINS AND MOLEHILLS; OR, RECOLLECTIONS OF A BURNT JOURNAL. London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1855. Digital texts 12.
  53. Charles Fayette McGlashan, HISTORY OF THE DONNER PARTY: A TRAGEDY OF THE SIERRA. San Francisco: A.L. Bancroft & Co., 1881. Digital texts 12.
  54. Edward McGown, NARRATIVE OF EDWARD MCGOWN. San Francisco: Published by the author, 1857. Digital text.
  55. Joaquin Miller, LIFE AMONGST THE MODOCS: UNWRITTEN HISTORY. London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1873. Digital text.
  56. John Muir, THE MOUNTAINS OF CALIFORNIA. New York: Century Company, 1894. Digital texts 123.
  57. Harris Newmark, SIXTY YEARS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, 1853-1913. New York: Knickerbocker Press, 1916. Digital texts 12.
  58. Frank Norris, McTEAGUE: A STORY OF SAN FRANCISCO. New York: Doubleday & McClure Co., 1899. Digital texts 12et al.
  59. Francisco Palóu, RELACIÓN HISTÓRICA DE LA VIDA Y APOSTÓLICAS TAREAS DEL VENERABLE PADRE FRAY JUNÍPERO SERRA. Mexic:, Felipe de Zúñiga y Ontiveros, 1787. Digital text.
  60. James O. Pattie, THE PERSONAL NARRATIVE OF JAMES O. PATTIE, OF KENTUCKY. Cincinnati: John H. Wood, 1831. Digital text.
  61. Stephen Powers, AFOOT AND ALONE: A WALK FROM SEA TO SEA: Hartford: Columbian Book Co., 1872. Digital text (et al.).
  62. REGLAMENTO PARA EL GOBIERNO DE LA PROVINCIA DE CALIFORNIAS. Mexico: Felipe de Zúñiga y Ontiveros, 1784.
  63. Joseph Warren Revere, A TOUR OF DUTY IN CALIFORNIA. New York: C.S. Francis, 1849. Digital text.
  64. John Rollin Ridge, JOAQUIN MURIETA: THE BRIGAND CHIEF OF CALIFORNIA. San Francisco: W.B. Cooke and Company, 1854. Digital text.
  65. Alfred Robinson, LIFE IN CALIFORNIA. New York: Wiley & Putnam, 1846. Digital text.
  66. Josiah Royce, CALIFORNIA FROM THE CONQUEST IN 1846 TO THE SECOND VIGILANCE COMMITTEE IN SAN FRANCISCO … Boston & New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1886. Digital text.
  67. Edwin L. Sabin, KIT CARSON DAYS (1809-1868). Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co., 1914. Digital text.
  68. Charles Howard Shinn, MINING CAMPS: A STUDY IN AMERICAN FRONTIER GOVERNMENT. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1885. Digital text.
  69. [Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clapp], CALIFORNIA IN 1851 [-52] BY DAME SHIRLEY. The Pioneer; or, California Monthly Magazine, 1854-5. Digital text.
  70. Frank Soulé. John H. Gigon, and James Nisbet, THE ANNALS OF SAN FRANCISCO. New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1855. Digital texts 12.
  71. Robert Louis Stevenson, THE SILVERADO SQUATTERS. London: Chatto & Windus, 1883. Digital texts 12et al.
  72. William F. Swasey, THE EARLY DAYS AND MEN OF CALIFORNIA. Oakland: Pacific Press Publishing Company, 1891. Digital text.
  73. Bayard Taylor, ELDORADO; OR, ADVENTURES IN THE PATH OF EMPIRE … New York: George P. Putnam, 1850. Digital texts 123.
  74. Jessy Quinn Thornton, OREGON AND CALIFORNIA IN 1848 … New York: Harper & Brothers, 1849. Digital text.
  75. Daniel Tyler, A CONCISE HISTORY OF THE MORMON BATTALION IN THE MEXICAN WAR. 1846-1847. Salt Lake City: [privately printed], 1881 [1882]. Digital text.
  76. Samuel Curtis Upham, NOTES OF A VOYAGE TO CALIFORNIA VIA CAPE HORN … Philadelphia: Published by the author, 1878. Digital texts 12.
  77. George Vancouver, A VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY TO THE NORTH PACIFIC OCEAN, AND ROUND THE WORLD … London: G.G. and J. Robinson, 1798. Digital texts 12.
  78. Miguel Venegas, NOTICIA DE LA CALIFORNIA, Y DE SU CONQUISTA TEMPORAL … Madrid: Viuda de Manuel Fernández, 1757. Digital text.
  79. Felix Paul Wierzbicki, CALIFORNIA AS IT IS, AND AS IT MAY BE, OR, A GUIDE TO THE GOLD REGION. San Francisco: Washington Bartlett, 1849. Digital text.
  80. Daniel Bates Woods, SIXTEEN MONTHS AT THE GOLD DIGGINGS. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851. Digital texts 12.