Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Type Tuesday - Special viewing of type specimens at the CHS Library

Join us for Third Thursdays at CHS! This Third Thursday will feature a special treat for all you type lovers!  Along with free admission to our gallery, the CHS library will be open from 6:00pm to 8:00pm for a special viewing of type specimens, monographs, printer's manuals and more from our Kemble Collection on Western Printing and Publishing! 

Thursday, September, 18, 2014, 5:00pm – 8:00pm
Third Thursdays at CHS
Join us every Third Thursday of the month for free admission to our exhibition,Yosemite: A Storied Landscape. Make crafts at our featured crafts table and dive into history with docent-led tours on the half hour.
About Third Thursdays: This event is part of the Yerba Buena neighborhood's Third Thursdays. Join in on the Third Thursday of each month in downtown San Francisco's Yerba Buena neighborhood for a monthly outing full of arts, food, and drink. Wander the blocks around Yerba Buena Gardens to soak in art and music. Pick up a wrist band at participating galleries and museums for a special Third Thursday all-night happy hour at participating bars and restaurants. Experience art immersion with special installations, performances, and events. At 6:00pm, drop by the CHS library and view a display of special typography-themed items from our archive.

Jaime Henderson,

Monday, September 15, 2014

Manuscript Monday—Sailors' Home Register

This big funky-looking Sailors' Home register was a delight to find and catalog:

Sailors' Home register, 1857-1862, MS 1862, courtesy, California Historical Society

The Sailors' Home was a boarding house for sailors in San Francisco operated by the Ladies' Seamen's Friend Society. This register is a treasure trove of information about the sailors who shipped in and out of the port of San Francisco between the years 1857 and 1862. Information recorded for each sailor includes: date of arrival, name, room number, name of vessel, where from, date of departure, vessel sailed in, where bound, and general remarks ("ran away" is a recurring theme).

Though the Ladies' Seamen's Friend Society sounds like a benevolent organization (and certainly was imagined as one by its founders and members), the Coast Seamen's Union, founded in 1885, railed against the Society and its condescending management of the Sailors' Home in the pages of the Coast Seamen's Journal. CHS also has a significant of this wonderful early San Francisco labor newspaper, yet to be cataloged, and many other manuscripts, books, and photographs documenting seafaring life in the nineteenth century.

Marie Silva
Archivist & Manuscripts Librarian

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Type Tuesday - Types collected by the Grabhorn Press

In 1959 the Grabhorn Press published a book highlighting their collection of 19th century type fonts. The brothers Edwin and Robert Grabhorn collected these fonts, all cast by United States type founders, with the help of fellow San Franciscan, Albert Dressler. 

Above: 24 point Inclined Octagon, originally offered by the Chicago Type Foundry but shown in its first type specimen by the Chicago Type Foundry's agent, Palmer & Rey of San Francisco in 1887. 

The introduction by Robert Grabhorn makes apologies for the poor condition of types, gently reminding the reader that they were manufactured in the 19th century. He also begs pardon for instances in which they have failed to locate a complete alphabet, as in the case above where the lower case "q" features a "?" 

Above: 24 point Program, originally offered by the Chicago Type Foundry but shown in its first type specimen by the Chicago Type Foundry's agent, Palmer & Rey of San Francisco in 1889.

Above: 24 point Gravers Shade, shown by Farmer, Little & Co., New York, 1882.

Above: Two-line Small Pica (22 points) Ornamented No. 5, shown by Dickinson Type Foundry, Phelps & Dalton, Boston, 1856. 

Jaime Henderson,

Monday, September 8, 2014

Manuscript Monday—Shipyard illustrator

In belated celebration of Labor Day, I am delighted to share archivist Lincoln Cushing's suberb article on the World War II shipyard magazine illustrator Emmy Lou Packard: http://kaiserpermanentehistory.org/latest/emmy-lou-packard-wwii-shipyard-magazine-illustrator/

Cushing writes: "Packard’s work was patriotic without resorting to racist jabs or stereotypes; she portrayed workers with dignity and character. She drew women’s experiences from a woman’s point of view – numerous vignettes show children (one of her regular subjects later in life), shopping, home life, and the challenges of survival and adjustment in a tempestuous time." As the daughter of a tradeswoman, I was especially touched by this illustration of a mother in a hard hat making dinner: http://kaiserpermanentehistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/ELP-1945-03-30-2-sm.jpg

CHS has a complementary collection of oral histories of women workers and activists who participated in the California labor movement of the 1930s, '40s, and '50s. These women speak with moving candor about their struggles—as workers, activists, incarcerated women, partners, and mothers. Their interviews can be accessed online at https://archive.org/details/californiahistoricalsociety

Marie Silva
Archivist & Manuscripts Librarian

Monday, September 1, 2014

Manuscript Monday—Back to school

Presenting an early San Francisco report card and award of merit to welcome our students back to school:

Reward of merit for Samuel G. Adams, undated, Samuel Adams journal and papers, MS Vault 1, California Historical Society.

Report of G. Adams for the month from Jan. 2, 1862, Samuel Adams journal and papers, MS Vault 1, California Historical Society.
Was the young Samuel G. Adams as brilliant as his report card suggests, or does grade inflation have nineteenth-century precedents? This archivist has yet to find a bad report card in the CHS collection. Perhaps they were surreptitiously tossed by their unhappy recipients.

Marie Silva
Archivist & Manuscripts Librarian

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Making the world go 'round

In recognition of upcoming Labor Day, exhibited here are a few photographs from our collections showing women and men hard at work ironing linen, making soap, picking seeds, harvesting oysters, and making candy.  Included in these images from the 19th and 20th centuries are the exteriors of two San Francisco businesses in which the employees toil:  The Metropolitan Laundry and the Newell & Bro. New York Soap Company.

Women working in Metropolitan Laundry facility, San Francisco

The Metropolitan Laundry was located at 1148 Harrison Street, San Francisco

Men making soap at Newell & Bro. New York Soap Company, San Francisco

Newell & Bro. New York Soap Company, San Francisco.  

Field workers on onion seed farm, Santa Clara County

Harvesting oysters on San Francisco Bay

Woman emptying sack of sugar into funnel at unidentified candy factory.  Cubelet Press Photo, C&H Sugar.

Women working on assembly line at unidentified candy factory.  Cubelet Press Photo, C&H Sugar.

Wendy Welker
Archivist and Librarian

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Type Tuesday - Letter Foundry of James Ronaldson

In today's Type Tuesday we feature another example of one of the earlier type specimens in the Kemble Collection. This specimen, from 1822, for the letter foundry of James Ronaldson was published just one year before the Ronaldson's retirement from his long and illustrious career in the printing industry. 


Ronaldson had began his professional life as a baker, but had lost his bakery to a fire. Upon meeting fellow Scotsman Archibald Binney in a Philadelphia ale house the two decided to partner up. Ronaldson's business smarts combined with Binney's knowledge of letter-cutting gave way to the first permanent type foundry in the United States. Founded in 1796 the firm of Binney & Ronaldson, outfitted with the same press that Benjamin Franklin had purchased from the French type foundry Fournier, quickly began to establish itself as an outstanding and influential foundry. One of their most significant contributions to print being the creation of the $ sign, which had previously been symbolized with an elongated 'S'. 

Binney retired from the foundry in 1815, selling his shares to his partner Ronaldson. Ronaldson carried on with the foundry for eight more years, retiring in 1823 leaving the foundry to his brother, Richard. 

Below are samples of print from James Ronaldson's foundry in 1822. 

Jaime Henderson,

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Type Tuesday - Barnhart Brothers and Spindler's Advertisers Gothics

Barnhart Brothers and Spindler's are a Type Tuesday favorite, particularly for their use of bold colors and stylish, modern type design. 

Barnhart Brothers and Spindler's type specimen is certainly eye-catching and their design for Advertisers Gothics unique - its letters do not have any descenders, creating a sturdy, resolute typeface. 

Jaime Henderson,

Monday, August 18, 2014

Manuscript Monday—Don't use big words!

Advertisement for Dickson's Crown Mucilage, circa 1880-1889, Clarence J. Arper scrapbook, MS 76, courtesy, California Historical Society. 

Enough said.

Marie Silva
Archivist & Manuscripts Librarian

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Type Tuesday - Geo. Bruce and Co.

Today we feature examples of work from one of the oldest type specimens in the Kemble Collection, the George Bruce and Company's Specimen of Printing Types and Ornaments, published in 1833. 

George Bruce had learned to cast his own type while experimenting, along with his brother David, on how to accomodate type for the stereotyping printing process. In 1818 the brothers opened their own foundry on Chambers Street in New York, with George concentrating on developing the type-founding business and David giving his attention to the stereotype process. 

David's ill-health forced him to retire from the business, and George continued on with type-founding, publishing Specimen of Printing Types and Ornaments in 1833 and making himself known among printers for his tasteful designs. 

Jaime Henderson,