One of the earliest views of Petaluma.

Bird’s Eye View of the City of Petaluma, Sonoma County, California.

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SKU: NL-01637 Category: Tag:
Date: 1871
Place: San Francisco
Dimensions: 70 x 60 cm (27.5 x 23.5 in)
Condition Rating: VG+
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This is a fantastic 1871 view of Petaluma, oriented towards the west, with the Petaluma River in the foreground and coastal hills in the background. A legend at the bottom indicates the location of key sites in the city, such as city hall, hotels, and churches (including one labeled simply as ‘colored’). 

The layout of the city drawn here is still recognizable today. Main St. and Third St. later became Petaluma Avenue, the town’s main thoroughfare. The Sonoma and Marin Agricultural Park, which also served as a racetrack, is today the location of Petaluma High School. In 1882, the agricultural park and racetrack relocated to the site of today’s Kenilworth Park. Some of the rail lines displayed here are still in use, including by the new Sonoma–Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) commuter system. 

Petaluma had historically been the territory of the Coast Miwok. In the 1830s, Rancho Petaluma was established by Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, a key figure in the transition of (Alta) California from Mexican to U.S. control. By the time this view was published, Petaluma had built a reputation as one of the main centers of agricultural production in Northern California. Ships would carry produce and other agricultural goods down the Petaluma River out into San Pablo Bay and on to San Francisco. The town was particularly known for poultry – the egg incubator was invented there in 1879 – and it came to be known as the ‘egg capital of the world.’

Due to bedrock under the city, Petaluma was fairly unharmed by the 1906 earthquake and, as a result, retains one of the best-preserved historic town centers of any city in Northern California.



This evocative view was drawn by Augustus Koch in 1871 and lithographed by Britton & Rey in San Francisco. We are aware of only one other example, held by the Bancroft Library at the University of California Berkeley.


Augustus Koch

Augustus Koch began his career as an itinerant birds-eye view artist in California in 1870. Over the next nearly 30 years, he would criss-cross the country, creating more than 100 views of towns, large and small. His large format, highly detailed views are among the most coveted among collectors, employing a unique style which provides both physical details of the town and a map-like quality.

Britton & Rey

Britton & Rey (1852 – 1906) was a lithographic printing firm based in San Francisco and founded by Joseph Britton and Jacques Joseph Rey in 1852. Especially during the second half of the 19th century, Britton and Rey became the leading lithography firm in San Francisco, and probably California. Among their many publications were birds-eye-views of Californian cities, depictions of the exquisite landscapes, stock certificates, and no least maps. While Rey was the primary artist, Britton worked not only as the main lithographer but was essentially also the man running the business. In addition to their own material, the firm reproduced the works of other American artists like Thomas Almond Ayres (1816 – 1858), George Holbrook Baker (1824 – 1906), Charles Christian Nahl (1818 – 1878), and Frederick August Wenderoth (1819 – 1884). Following Rey’s death in 1892 Britton passed the form on to Rey’s son, Valentine J. A. Rey, who ran it until the great earthquake and fire of 1906 destroyed most of the company’s assets.

Joseph Britton (1825 – July 18, 1901) was a lithographer and the co-founder of the prominent San Francisco lithography studio Britton and Rey. He was also a civic leader in San Francisco, serving on the Board of Supervisors and helping to draft a new city charter. In 1852, he became active in lithography and publishing, first under the name ‘Pollard and Britton,’ and then ‘Britton and Rey,’ a printing company founded with his friend and eventual brother-in-law Jacques Joseph Rey. Britton and Rey became the premier lithographic and engraving studio of the Gold Rush era, producing letter sheets, maps, and artistic prints.

Jacques Joseph Rey (1820 – 1892) was a French engraver and lithographer born in the Alsatian town of Bouxwiller. At the age of about 30, he emigrated to America, eventually settling in California. Here, he soon entered into a partnership with local entrepreneur and civic leader Joseph Britton. Three years later, Rey also married Britton’s sister, allowing his business partner and brother-in-law Britton to live in their house with them. Rey and Britton were not only an important part of the San Francisco printing and publishing scene but also owned a plumbing and gas-fitting firm. In the early years, both men would sometimes partner up with others on specific projects, but by the late 1860s, their partnership was more or less exclusive.

Condition Description

Very good. Professionally restored and rebacked. A few small creases and repaired tears.