Monday, October 20, 2014

Manuscript Monday—Whiskey, brandy, tobacco, oysters, and pickles

What did Gold Rush miners eat? This 1851 bill of lading, recording goods shipped from New York to San Francisco, and from San Francisco to Sacramento City, gives some sense of the miners' culinary priorities: whiskey, brandy, cherry brandy, bitters, tobacco, butter, oysters, and pickles all made the long trip.
Bill of lading for goods shipped by Benj. M. Whitlock & Co. on board the ship Typhoon to J. B. Bidleman in San Francisco: New York, 1851 July 15, MS 152, California Historical Society.

Marie Silva
Archivist & Manuscripts Librarian

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Type Tuesday - Happy Birthday to E.R. Weiss

We have previously featured works by E.R. Weiss here at Type Tuesdays but in honor of his birthday on October 12 we, somewhat belatedly, feature some of Weiss' work for the Bauer Type Foundry. 

Jaime Henderson

Monday, October 13, 2014

Manuscript Monday—Gold Rush correspondence, Part 4: Mountain dentistry

Working with nineteenth-century manuscripts gives one a new-found appreciation for the wonders of modern medicine and dentistry. Scared of getting a flu shot? Consider the plight of this poor 49er, his rotting tooth in the clutches of an untrained mountain dentist. At least they had whiskey.

Excuse me for trying your patience, for I want to tell you about an operation which I passed through a few days since. In the first place, imagine yourself seated on an old soup box, in what is termed a Doctor's Office, here in the mountains, and the Dentist so called, a very raw boned Pike Countryman with both hands full of the old fashioned instruments and singing out at the same time, open your mouth as wide as you can, then comes the tug of war. I tell you I have never passed through or experienced anything that gets me like it does to have a tooth extracted by a mountain Dentist, with the tools they use. I think the instruments if I may call them by that name, are better adapted to use in a mining claim, than on a person's tooth.

William H. Brown letter: North Branch, Calif., to P.D. Irish : ALS, 1851 Mar. 29, MS 238, California Historical Society.

Marie Silva
Archivist & Manuscripts Librarian

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Type Tuesday - Hazeltine Type

Offerings from Hazeltine Type, another local foundry that had been located in Oakland, California.

The type featured is from their Ludlow section - that is, a type produced on typesetting equipment manufactured by the Ludlow Typograph Company. Wanting to offer the public a cheaper alternative to Linotype, William I. Ludlow and William A. Reade created a hot metal typesetting system. 

Wikipedia provides an excellent, simple explanation for how the equipment worked: 
The Ludlow system uses molds, known as matrices or mats, which are hand-set into a special composing stick. Thus the composing process resembles that used in cold lead type printing. Once a line has been completed, the composing stick is inserted into the Ludlow machine, which clamps it firmly in place above the mold. Hot linecasting metal (the same alloy used in Linotype and Intertype machines) is then injected through the mold into the matrices, allowed to cool, and then the bottom of the slug is trimmed just before it is ejected. The operator then replaces the matrices, or mats, back into the typecase by hand. Since the mats are of a consistent height, irrespective of typeface size, they are easier to handle than lead type.
Windemere, Commerce Gothic and Hauser Script were three of the Ludlow types Hazeltine offered to its customers.

Jaime Henderson,

Monday, October 6, 2014

Free Speech Movement

In the fall of 1964, on-campus political issues which had been brewing at UC Berkeley for at least four years converged with national events in ways which would forever change Berkeley and the nation.

Inspired by their participation in Mississippi’s Freedom Summer of 1964, Mario Savio and other Berkeley undergraduates sought to continue their civil rights activism on campus as the Fall semester began, by setting up tables and handing out literature near the entrance to the university and on Sproul Plaza, just off Telegraph Ave.

On Sept. 14, 1964, campus administrators banned political activity from UC property, sparking swift student protests. The most notable of the protests was a 32-hour standoff October 1, at a police car parked on the Plaza which held student Jack Weinberg, arrested for staffing a table on Sproul Plaza, and the historical mass arrest of over 700 students at Sproul Hall on December 4.

The term “Free Speech Movement” was coined early on in the protests, and would come to symbolize the beginning of an era of protests over free speech, civil rights and the war in Vietnam.

The accompanying undated note by Savio, part of CHS’ ACLU Northern California collection, was likely written during the fall of 1964, as university officials sought ways to prevent certain student organizations from holding rallies and distributing literature, and students sought paths around these new rules.

Mario Savio letter, undated, MS 3580, California Historical Society
For more information on the Free Speech Movement see the Bancroft Library's chronology here.

Alison Moore
Reader Services Librarian

Manuscript Monday—Gold Rush correspondence, Part 3: “A woman, a woman, my kingdom for a woman”

Male Gold Rush correspondents expressed their loneliness particularly as a longing for women. In the letter of 1850 reproduced below, miner Oscar Bennet communicates his utterly undiscriminating desire for female society in near hysterical tones. Perhaps Mr. Bennet earned his correspondent’s sympathy, but I cannot help feeling sorry for the unlucky woman who may have stumbled into a quadrille with him at the overpriced gold country ball to which he refers.

Here I am, separated by a broad expanse of water and land from all near and dear friends. Yesterday was the dullest “New-Year’s” I ever spent, cut off from all female society. Milton, if you were separated from these dear little creatures as I am, you would know how to appreciate their valueif you were of the same mind that I am you would get married immediately. “A woman, a woman, my kingdom for a woman.” If nothing happens to blur my progress you may expect me home next falltell the girls to be ready—for married I must be as soon as I arrive.

Bennet begins to plead for a letter from home, using a tried-and-true combination of self-pity, shaming, and flattery (see last week’s post, Gold Rush correspondence—Part 2: The begging for a letter letter):

Milton, one long year has past and I have not received one letter from home. I have wrote often and received no answer, how is this can you account for it [?] I attach a small portion of blame to you—my letters have been directed to Rochester for Alonzo yourself and Wallace—not one of you have answered. I have received 5 newspapers from Alonzo. This is my last effort to gain an answer—if this letter don’t fetch one I will give up all hopes. Milton, you are more attentive—you have more regard for your kindred than the rest. Therefore I look to you for an answer. I hope you will not fail to comply with my request.

Bennet then returns to his first theme, which he helpfully underlines:

You have undoubtedly heard all about California before this and therefore it’s useless for me to go into the details. On the 8th of January I am going to attend a ball, given in commemoration of the battle of New Orleans. The committee are making every effort to obtain every woman in the country to attend it. Oh, what a time there will be—tickets for $100, supper extra. The sum of $100 to pay for a ticket to go to a Ball looks enormous in your eye, but here it’s not more than $5 at home.

Oscar Bennet letter: Sacramento, Calif., to his brother in Rochester, N.Y., 1850 January 2, MS 143, California Historical Society.
Marie Silva
Archivist & Manuscripts Librarian

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Type Tuesday - Franciscan Press, San Francisco

Today we feature typefaces from a local foundry, the Franciscan Press, once located at 500 Sansome Street. 

An undated announcement of the opening of the firm reported the partnership of Lynn Hagemann and C. Raymond Beran - "who has contributed to the present generation many examples of good taste in typography." Beran started his printing career at the turn of the century, designing type for Denver mining companies. He favored a decorative typography style, which he brought to San Francisco with the opening of the Johnck, Beran and & Kibbee foundry in 1920. 

Beran's work with the Franciscan Press was to appeal to the cultured tastes of San Franciscans who appreciated "music and pageantry" along with "fine printing." What follows are examples of the Franciscan Press' typograpical offerings. 

Erbar Outline and Banner

Phyllis Initials

Pompadour Initials and Monterey Initials

Jaime Henderson,

Monday, September 29, 2014

Gold Rush correspondence—Part 2: the begging for a letter letter

One of the most common themes in Gold Rush correspondence is loneliness, often expressed as a plea for more letters—or any letters—from home. Sometimes forlorn, sometimes passive aggressive, sometimes jocular, the tone of these letters varies, but the undercurrent of desperation remains the same. In this way, the genres of Gold Rush and prison literature overlap.

The letter below, written by John Tabor Alsap to his cousin, is a classic and very funny specimen of the “why hasn’t anyone sent me a letter” genre. Recently cataloged, its introductory paragraph made me laugh out loud. (The rest of the letter is pretty good, too.)

My Dear Cousin, 

I received your very welcome letter two days ago, and was truly glad to find that all my relatives had not forgotten my unworthy self. You will not believe it perhaps when I tell you, that out of the very large number of relations with whom I claim kindred I have not received a letter from any one of them for over two years. Indeed I had begun to think that I had no more relations and that I should be under the disagreeable necessity of marrying for new ones. But your kind letter has dispelled the unpleasant illusion and “Richard is himself again.” 

J. T. Alsap letter: Brownsville, Calif., to his cousin, 1857 May 19, MS 45, California Historical Society

Marie Silva
Archivist & Manuscripts Librarian 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Type Tuesday - Graphicka Revija

Today we feature more gems from the Kemble periodical collection. A hidden treasure of graphic design magazines, including international titles dating back to the early 20th century, are awaiting your perusal in the CHS library.  Take a look at the highly stylized covers of Graphicka Revija, published between 1927 and 1932. 
Graficka Revija, 1927: vol. 1

Graficka Revija, 1927: vol. 3

Graficka Revija, 1929: July/August

Graficka Revija, 1929: November/December

Graficka Revija, 1930: January/February

Graficka Revija, 1930: March/April

Graficka Revija, 1930: July/August

Graficka Revija, 1932
Jaime Henderson,

Monday, September 22, 2014

Manuscript Monday—Gold Rush correspondence, Part I: “Paths are seen like pieces of thread curling around the hills…”

Gold Rush letters have been on my mind, ever since CHS’ cataloger Will Murdoch (also of the San Francisco Public Library’s History Center) threw down the gauntlet, declaring that he had found the greatest Gold Rush letter ever written, in the public library’s collection. Brimming with wit, pathos, and sublimity, these letters, written by ordinary people to their families back home, represent some of the best literature produced in California. For the next few weeks, Manuscript Monday will feature a Gold Rush letter (or two) from the CHS collection, in honor of this surprising, delightful, and disturbing genre.

Downieville, Sierra County, Cal., California Lettersheet Collection, Kemble Spec Col 09, courtesy, California Historical Society, Kemble Spec Col 09_B059.
The fairy-tale-like juxtaposition of whimsical and disturbing imagery can be found in many Gold Rush letters. Perhaps Dame Shirley was the master of this technique, which was also deployed by artists in the many pictorial lettersheets of the period. One of the most memorable juxtapositions, however, comes from the manuscript letters of William Hubert Burgess, a gold miner, jeweler, artist, and teacher. I cannot forget the image of his tent glowing at night, decorated with scrolls and flowers, followed, somewhat incongruously as in a dream, by an account of a man’s murder: 

The tent in which I carry on business now is an object of curiosity to many on Mokelumne Hill. I have drawn all over it in a bold style scrolls and flowers with charcoal. It shows up well at night, the ground being white canvas. Society is of the most degraded condition here. There have been no less than seven murders since I have been on the hill, one last night (Sunday). You need not be alarmed on my account as they all occur among a class of people with whom I have no intercourse; they are mostly drunken brawls. I saw one poor wretch (a Mexican) lying dead with two bullet holes through his heart a week or so since.

For a wonderful reading of Burgess' letters, please see Gary F. Kurutz's "California is Quite a Different Place Now": The Gold Rush Letters and Sketches of William Hubert Burgess (California Historical Quarterly, Vol. 56, No. 3, Fall 1977, available on Jstor). 

Marie Silva
Archivist & Manuscripts Librarian