US Coins

California publisher of influence: James Mason Hutchings

Regarding Joel Orosz’s column in the March 24th Coin World on an early description of the first San Francisco Mint, the unknown author almost certainly was the publisher of Hutchings’ California Magazine, James Mason Hutchings. 

A native of Great Britain, Mr. Hutchings had quite a career after his arrival in California in 1849. He made a fortune in mining and lost it in a bank failure, was a member of the first tourist party to visit Yosemite Valley in 1855, and later owned and ran a hotel in the valley. 

While in Yosemite Valley, he hired a new arrival named John Muir to build and run a sawmill. Animosity quickly developed between the two, possibly because of attention Muir paid to Hutchings’ wife or vice versa. 

Hutchings wrote and published two major books: Scenes of Wonder and Curiosity in California and In the Heart of the Sierras: The Yo Semite Valley both Historical and Descriptive … The latter, lavishly illustrated with photos and lithographs, captured the imagination of a child in San Francisco who eventually made Yosemite Valley the cornerstone of his work: Ansel Adams. 

Hutchings died in a buggy accident in Yosemite Valley in 1902 and is buried in the Yosemite Valley Cemetery near Yosemite Village.

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