Doncha hate it when that happens?

Apr 23, 2023 | 2 comments

“Oysterville” – An Arcadia Publication

Not to belabor a point… but on Friday night when friends and I were talking about my “Oysterville Talk” at the Surfside Homeowners’ Association, I grabbed a hard cover copy of my Oysterville book to look up a fact I just couldn’t recall — not at Wednesday’s talk and not by Friday night, either.  I went right to the page (29) in the book and looked for the caption that read: In the 1860s, a plate of oysters in San Francisco cost two and a half $20 gold pieces.  Above it was a picture of Tucker’s grandfather in 1940, demonstrating that bit of information by holding a plate of 50 oysters — which worked out to $1.00 per oyster.

But, that’s NOT what the caption said.  It said “…two and a half $25 gold pieces.”  

During the Gold Rush Era — pocket change for miners

“That’s not right,” said Tucker.  ” I never heard of a $25 gold piece.”  I agreed — “no such animal that I know of.”  “And that would make that plate of oysters cost $75!” Fred Carter said.  “That’s ridiculous.”

Ridiculous and wrong.  In my office, I had one of the first copies of my Oysterville book — a paperback copy printed in 2010.  “… two and a half $20 gold pieces.” it said.  And in the back room where I keep my book inventory I looked in a recent (a month old) paperback copy.  “… two and a half $25 gold pieces,” it said.

Nuts making.  I looked in the “retired book files” and found my “Oysterville Proofs” — my copy of the final corrections on the last proof of the book before it went to press.  At that point in the editing process there were still four errors, one of which was the $25 instead of $20.  All were marked (in red), all were subsequently corrected and all were printed correctly in the first run of the book.  BUT WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED AFTER THAT?

Louis Wachsmuth and Plate of Native Oysters – 1940

Tomorrow, I will try to get a live voice in the Editorial Department or in the Production Department at Arcadia Publications and see if this mess can be straightened out.  Meanwhile, if you have the book, check out page 29.  One way or another (though I’m not sure which way) you may have a collector’s item.

I doubt if there will be a recall — but that would really be cool.  If they had a lot of class, you could send your erroneous copy back and get a correct copy in return.  But don’t hold your breath…  I’ll be amazed if I can even get a live voice to talk to.  Stay tuned…


  1. Cuzzin Ralph

    Cuzzin Sydney, I checked Google Books and there are two “Preview” versions of Oysterville: (1) unpaginated, poorly formatted, with large sans serif type, and $25 gold pieces, (2) paginated, well-formatted, nice typeface and $20 gold pieces. Obviously, the 2nd captures the correction in your last proof. In this day of “print on demand” it seems quality control is not up to snuff at Arcadia—an uncorrected version snuck in at some later printing. As a kid I collected coins (never gold pieces–too rich for my blood!). It seems two of the most popular gold coins were the eagle ($10) and the double eagle ($20).

  2. Caroline Miller

    There’s an upside to every downside. An erreor becomes a collector’s item! If I live long enough, my errors might make me a lot of money!


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