The E-Sylum: Volume 3, Number 36, September 3, 2000, Article 6
E. I. BARRA'S BOOK
To add to his earlier comments on the pamphlet by E. I. Barra, Dave Bowers writes:
"Here is the citation on Barra's book. There is hardly anything in it about the Gold Rush (I read it), but a lot of stuff about life at sea and in ports. Well written.
Barra, E.I. Tale of Two Oceans; New Story by an Old Californian. San Francisco, CA: Press of Eastman & Co., 1893.
I would be desirous of communicating with anyone who has any contemporary information 1849-1857 concerning the actual use, and described as such, of $50 slugs, bars, gold coins, etc., in gambling halls, stores, etc., in California. I have gathered quite a few, some of which are quite fascinating, but I would like to get more. The "payment" will be a credit line in a new book I and a bunch of researchers are working on re: the S.S. Central America, with emphasis on the numismatic aspects."
The Library of Congress web site provides this information:
"Barra, E. I. (Ezekiel I.) A tale of two oceans : a new story by an old Californian : an account of a voyage from Philadelphia to San Francisco, around Cape Horn, years 1849-50, calling at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and at Juan Fernandez, in the South Pacific / by E.I. Barra. San Francisco : Press of Eastman & Co., 1893. 198 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. (See http://www.loc.gov/)
Another web search turned up a reference to this book:
Weinpahl, ed. A Gold Rush Voyage on the Bark Orion from Boston around Cape Horn to San Francisco, 1849-1850. A unique record based upon the journals of Foster H. Jenkins, Henry S. Bradley, Seth Draper and Ezekial I. Barra. 1978.
So we have a few more clues about the no-longer-so- mysterious E. I. Barra. His first name was Ezekiel, he was an adult by 1849, probably living in Philadelphia. He sailed to California to seek his fortune. He visited the San Francisco Mint and published "Something About Coins" in 1863, and sold coins in the Keller sale that year, also in San Francisco. It seems very likely that he was living that city, perhaps having stayed from his arrival in the Gold Rush. He lived in California at least to 1893, when he published his memoir.
NBS Secretary-Treasurer Dave Hirt notes that the Keller sale of Barra's collection is probably the earliest numismatic auction held on the West Coast.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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