The Gold Diggings of Cape Horn

The Gold Diggings of Cape Horn, cover
Adoption Amount: $500
Category: Preserve for the Future
Location: National Museum of Natural History Library

The gold diggings of Cape Horn. A study of life in Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia

By John Randolph Spears. New York: G. P. Putnam's sons, 1895.

John Randolph Spears (b. 1850) was a well-traveled journalist at turn of the century, eventually writing nearly a dozen books, primarily on nautical and maritime themes. This early title is about the land, sea, flora, fauna, and cultures of South America’s southernmost region. The “gold diggings” from the title are mostly done on the east coast of Tierra del Fuego, where, after heavy storms, gold shows up on the black sands. The quest for gold often creates conflicts with indigenous communities of the area, which Spears takes great care to describe with sensitivity (for the times).

This copy is from the main Natural History Library, and originally belonged to the sixth Secretary of the Smithsonian (1946-1953), Alexander Wetmore. His bookplate and signature are inside the front cover.

Condition and Treatment: 

This is a late 19th-century publisher's binding in a green bookcloth with gold stamping on the cover and spine. The back board is nearly detached, and the spine lining is inadequate. Conservators will remove the back cover, then clean and reline the spine. The front signed endsheet and the bookplate will be retained. The repaired textblock will then be recased in the original cover.

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