X. Scenes in the Life of the California Miner

The Miner's Progress

Or, Scenes in the Life of a California Miner. Being a Series of Humorous Illustrations of the "Ups and Downs" of a Gold Digger in Pursuit of His "Pile."

Pictorial Union.


July 4, 1853.

The Sacramento Union published this same series of eleven wood engravings in 1853 as a pamphlet. Alonzo Delano, California's pioneer humorist, produced the satirical verse and noted artist Charles Nahl supplied the illustrations.

Letters of Gold: The Pictorial Letter Sheet

A phenomenon that grew out of the run for gold was the creation of a unique California stationery. The letter sheet consisted of a light-weight blue, gray, or white writing paper embellished with a woodcut or lithograph. Produced primarily in the 1850s, California artists and publishers produced nearly 350 examples. Because of this union of pictures with stationery, historians call the letter sheet the forerunner of the postcard. Common subjects included mining scenes, mining camps and towns, cities, natural wonders, events such as fires, and the workings of the vigilance committees. Ironically, few letter sheets were used for their intended purpose: letter writing, as most were saved as mementoes.

Sundry Amusements in the Mines

Lithographed & Published by Quirot & Co., San Francisco.

Four scenes are depicted on this letter sheet: "A Sundays Amusement" (two miners washing and another soaking his feet), "A Daily Pleasure" (miners cooking in their cabin), "Occupation for Rainy Days" (miners in a tent repairing boots and sewing clothes), and "A Pleasant Surprise" (two men discover a bear warming himself in their tent).

Sunday Morning & Log Cabin

Lithographed and Published by Britton & Rey, San Francisco.

The upper view shows one miner in a tent and another lying on the grass reading a book or letter. The lower view depicts two miners standing in front of a cabin with enormous logs.

Scenes in a Miner's Life

Lithographed and Published by Britton & Rey, San Francisco

Six semi-humorous scenes are delineated: "Night in the Log Cabin," "Camping out," "Going to Work," "Hole gives out," "New diggings Struck," and "Next day." The last two scenes show a beehive of activity and then a miner surveying an empty scene.