New York and Cincinnati: A. S. Barnes & Company and H. W. Derby & Co., 1849. First Edition. Complete. Approximately 4” x 6”. 86 pages including 3 pages of b/w illustrations. 9 additional advertising pages in rear. Title page illustrated with an untitled wood engraving (titled as “Scenery on a Branch of the Sacramento” in a contemporary book on California) of a placer gold mining scene. Sound binding; some very light foxing to the endpapers and first several leaves. Clean pages; well-done repair to closed tear on one leaf. Minor cover wear; heaviest at spine ends. Bright gilt spine lettering.
This is clearly a reference book intended for men caught up in the California Gold Rush of 1849 although neither are specifically mentioned in the text. As stated in its preface, the book was intended to be a portable, basic reference for the novice “without a large library”, and to be “an indispensable companion to enable the miner to assay [and] extract . . . useful metals.”
The book addresses the Classification of Rocks, Instruments and Processes of Subterranean Operations, Means of Penetrating the Earth, the Chemistry and Geology of Metals (Gold and others). It contains three appendices, A Tabular View of the Rocks of the United States, Alloys, and a Glossary. Not listed in Howes, Graff nor Streeter.
OCLC shows about 30 copies held by institutions, but this title is otherwise rather scarce. As of 2018, no examples are for sale within the trade, and a search of ABPC, Rare Book Hub, and Worthpoint reveals only one auction record. Item #008617
At age 19, long before he became a renowned professor of natural science, or for that matter even attended college, Orton “published his first book The Miner's Guide and Metallurgist's Directory . . . at the time of the California gold rush. . . . The book was a surprising success, later appearing in five revised editions as the widely read Underground Treasures: How and Where to Find Them.” (The Vassar Encyclopedia).