A wonderfully evocative poster map that provides a nostalgic look at California’s historical heritage. For anyone fascinated by the stories of the Old West – particularly the mining boom in California – this poster offers an array of exciting details. Surrounded by dramatic and typically western scenery, the central component consists of a map of California itself. On this, every old Spanish mission, every gold and silver mine, every desert dive – abandoned or otherwise – is noted prominently.
Throughout, small vignettes with western motifs adorn the map area. Examples include the howling wolf in the compass rose, miners and prospectors, cowboys and vaqueros, saloons, rattlesnakes, and sunburnt cow skulls. The vignettes are not the only pictorial inclusions on the map, where we also find human skulls indicating so-called ghost-towns, crosses denoting lost mines and other treasures, crossed pickaxes and shovels for active mines; a bugle for military forts, and an arched portal adorned with a cross for the California missions. In addition to all of these locations and decorative features, the map depicts major cities – both inland and along the coast, the state’s major wagon trails and postal routes, and many other historic locations associated with the Old West.
In the waters off the coast, a ship sails on San Francisco. Moving clockwise from the bottom left corner, we find a stagecoach attacked by Indians, an old scroll serving as the backdrop for the map’s legend, a mission building fronted by an imposing ‘mission bell,’ and heel spurs in the upper right corner. Along the left side of the map, we first see the map’s large title in the upper right corner, which is topped by a Native American spear, although exactly which tribe this weapon belonged to is unclear (California tribes in the Gold Rush era included the Karok, Maidu, Cahuilleno, Mojave, Yokuts, Pomo, Paiute, and Modoc). Under the title, we find the largest vignette scene depicting an empty street and saloon in one of California’s ‘ghost towns.’
While the map itself is set in a bright white, the surrounding areas have been kept in a brownish color. The extensive external vignettes are an elegant means of framing the otherwise somewhat angular outline of the state. The map was drawn and compiled by Andrew Dagosta and published by Cooper Enterprises (La Jolla) in 1969. Overall, this map is a desirable collector’s item and the ideal gift for any person fascinated by California history and the Old West.