The Goldfields revisited by Edward P Mathers
The 19th century saw a surge in gold prospecting and South Africa, especially the former Transvaal, was the place to be if you wanted to make your fortune. One of the people who believed that South Africa possessed the richest ore deposits in the world and recorded those heady times was newspaper man Edward P Mathers. Special Collections has a 1970 reprint of his 1887 book The Gold Fields Revisited. This book contains one of the earliest descriptions of Johannesburg as a mining town, being published the year after Johannesburg was established on a small piece of uitval ground (the government ground between the farms on which diggings were proclaimed).
The book covers Mathers’ second trip to the gold fields from Barberton to the Witwatersrand, Swaziland and Matabeleland in Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia). His astute observations on the gold-producing potential of the Witwatersrand and the measures that needed to be taken for the potential to be fully realized are interesting to read in retrospect.