The most iconic California Gold Rush lithograph.

The Independent Gold Hunter on His Way to California. I Neither Borrow Nor Lend.


In stock

Add to Wishlist
Add to Wishlist
Date: ca. 1849
Place: New York
Dimensions: 28 x 37 cm (11 x 14.5 in)
Condition Rating: VG


This is Nathaniel Currier’s celebrated lithograph iconic artwork portraying a gold prospector traveling to California during the Gold Rush. Perhaps more than any other contemporary print, it captures the spirit of the era.

The image depicts a rugged, determined-looking individual equipped with a pickaxe and a shovel. He is dressed in typical clothing of the time, wearing a wide-brimmed hat, boots, and carrying a backpack. The prospector’s face shows a sense of purpose and self-reliance.

The title of the lithograph, “I Neither Borrow Nor Lend,” reflects the independent and self-sufficient nature of the gold hunters during that time. Many individuals who journeyed to California for the Gold Rush aimed to strike it rich and preferred to rely on their own resources rather than borrowing money or depending on others.

Currier captures the excitement and adventure associated with the Gold Rush era, as people from all over the world sought their fortunes in the goldfields of California. It also represents the spirit of individualism, self-reliance, and the pursuit of opportunity that characterized the time.

Today, the lithograph serves as a historical artifact, providing a glimpse into the cultural and social atmosphere of the California Gold Rush. It is considered a valuable piece of American art and a representation of the dreams, aspirations, and challenges faced by those who participated in the Gold Rush.

The image seems to have been copied by Kellogg & Comstock, who published a similar work at about the same time.


Nathaniel Currier & James Ives

Currier and Ives was a highly successful American printmaking firm that operated from 1834 to 1907. The company was named after its founders, Nathaniel Currier and James Merritt Ives. They specialized in producing lithographic prints that depicted a wide range of subjects, including landscapes, historical events, portraits, and genre scenes.

Nathaniel Currier, born in 1813, started his career as a lithographer in the 1830s, creating images of current events and scenes of everyday life. He formed a partnership with James Merritt Ives, a bookkeeper, in 1857. Ives had a keen business sense and contributed greatly to the success of the firm. Together, they established Currier & Ives, with Currier as the primary artist and Ives managing the business operations.

Currier & Ives became renowned for their high-quality lithographs, which were affordable and accessible to a wide audience. The company employed a team of talented artists who produced the original artwork, which was then transferred onto lithographic stones for mass production.

Condition Description

Very nice. Mounted on card with indications of previous restoration. Minor discoloration from previous framing. Excellent color and nice image.