Picturesque California and the Region West of the Rocky Mountains, from Alaska to Mexico
Edited by John Muir

         The year 1888 was a time of great activity in the printing world. Not only were there dozens of new printing techniques and unusual formatting techniques, but printing companies were clamoring to satisfy the public’s fascination with the West. Most of these efforts were relatively small-scale in the form of brochures and single prints. However in 1888, the J. Dewing Publishing company brought together these two emerging trends in a highly ambitious work. This work would be known as Picturesque 
CaliforniaThe book was edited by John Muir and features over 600 etchings, photogravures, and wood etchings, 700 additional illustrations in the text, and 120 tinted plates. These images were integrated into the text in highly innovative ways and depict everything from thriving cities to stunning natural wonders. Picturesque California was meant to draw new immigrants to the West Coast and was one of the first attempts by artists of the Western states to depict the West. The original work was sold by subscription and was distributed monthly in thirty parts.  

         The Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden has two copies in its Special Collections. The first copy (left), was compiled into 10 volumes and printed on India paper, a finer quality paper that produced darker tones than regular paper. The second copy (right), was compiled into 2 volumes and printed on standard paper. Though this copy does not feature the rich color of the first copy, it is able to show more detail as less ink was absorbed in the printing process. The images shown on this site come from the left copy.