Published: April 3, 2012
R.I. Internet Consignment & Sales struck gold with its online auction Wednesday, March 28. Its offering of a folding map from 1848 titled “Gold Region” and printed in 1848, the same year that Sutter’s Mill was discovered, kicking off California’s Gold Rush, attained $18,899.
The map is labeled “A Correct Survey of the / Gold Region / California” and depicts the Sacramento Valley area and the American River. It was published in Boston by T. Viley Jr. When folded, the “pocket” map measures 4 by 2½ inches and when opened, is roughly 12 by 18 inches.
“It was just such a super thing and having to deal with gold mining makes it so interesting,” said owner Bill Wolstenholme, who has been in the auctions business for 43 years but describes himself foremost as a “old-fashioned New England picker.”
One of the firm’s consignors from Massachusetts found the map in the bottom of a box while on a house call on Cape Cod. After doing extensive research online, Wolstenholme figured the map was rare indeed as he could find no other examples that had sold at auction. “I searched the thing until I was blue in the face and only found references to it, none that had sold,” he said.
The item was listed and his gut instinct was soon confirmed as within six hours, the map had already had drawn $2,000 in bids. “I knew at that point that is was something special because you never get that kind of early bidding. We love surprises like that because you never know what you’re going to get,” he said.
While this is not the most expensive item the firm has sold, it does make the top ten list. The successful buyer was a map dealer in California, who plans to offer it for sale, after it is fully restored, so we may not have heard that last of this little map that struck gold.
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