Friday, July 25, 2014

The Ambassador's Tour: George Thomas Marye and America enter the First World War

At the end of July 1914, on the outbreak of World War I, banker George Thomas Marye (1849–1933) walked into San Francisco’s temporary city hall on Market Street and took the oath of office as the new ambassador to tsarist-era Russia. Before Marye (pronounced Marie) left San Francisco on August 1 for Washington, D.C. and his subsequent relocation abroad, Emperor Nicholas II had mobilized the Russian army.

Marye’s primary duty was to negotiate a reinstatement of the Russian-American Treaty of 1832, which had formalized trade protocols existing at that time. Under President William Taft, in December 1911, the treaty was abrogated in response to a highly politicized dispute over recognition of passports held by American Jews who were trying to visit Russia.

The ambassador also found himself in the unenviable dual-role of representing Austro-Hungarian and German interests, since those countries had declared war upon Serbia—Russia’s ally—following the assassinations of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, in Sarajevo. Marye served until the end of March 1916, resigning due to poor health. On November 17 the following year, seven months after the United States entered the war, normal diplomatic relations with Russia abruptly ended.

In 1949, Helen Martha Marye Thomas gave her father’s personal effects to the California Historical Society, including this formal photographic portrait of the ambassador in full-dress uniform, made shortly after his arrival in Petrograd, as well as his insignia bestowed by Emperor Nicholas II and the letter from Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs announcing the bestowal.

Marye recounted his experiences and observations as a wartime ambassador in his published memoir, Nearing the End in Imperial Russia (London: Selwyn & Blount, 1928). He is buried at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma, California.

By Cheryl Maslin, Registrar, California Historical Society

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Type Tuesday - Ornamental initials from Martius Truelsen

Today's Type Tuesday is a bit of a mystery as the text in the type specimen is in Danish. Published in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1901 typographer Martius Truelsen's Type Og Tryk, No. 3 features spectacular ornamental initials that speak for themselves!

Jaime Henderson,

Monday, July 21, 2014

Manuscript Monday—Labor unrest in the Mother Lode

Newly cataloged are the records of the Kennedy Mining and Milling Company, which operated the Kennedy Mine near Jackson in Amador County, Calif. By the 1890s, the Kennedy Mine was the most productive gold mine in California, with a vertical shaft of 5,912 feet, the deepest in the United States. The records provide an extraordinarily detailed account of the daily operations of the mine—including mining shaft dimensions, ore quality and yields, expenses, and supply needs—but they are as fascinating for what they leave out as for what they so thoroughly document. In the superintendent's correspondence and reports, there is little mention of the miners themselves and of the conditions of their work.

The documents below are the exception. They refer to a 1916 injunction issued by the United States District court against twenty-nine men, barring them:

... from preventing or attempting to prevent the employees of plaintiff [Kennedy Mining and Milling Company] from free and peaceful access to the mining property of plaintiff described in the complaint herein, by means of any violence or threats of violence, or hostile demonstrations, or any other acts calculated to injure or frighten or intimidate said employees, or by in any way obstructing or blocking the free passage of plaintiff's employees over the roads and trails and other means of access to plaintiff's said premises.

In 1916, the Amador County mines were rocked by labor strikes that lasted for almost two months. Many mines were shut down, but this injunction suggests that the Kennedy Mining and Milling Company pursued an aggressive legal strategy in order to stay in business. The names of men are interesting, too: Italian, Spanish, and Slavic, they point to the ethnic diversity of the miners and union organizers who challenged some of the largest mining companies in the West.

Metson, Drew & MacKenzie letter to Kennedy Mining and Milling Company, 1916 November 11, Kennedy Mining and Milling Company records, MS 49, courtesy, California Historical Society

Injunction, 1916, Kennedy Mining and Milling Company records, MS 49, Courtesy, California Historical Society
Marie Silva
Archivist & Manuscripts Librarian
California Historical Society

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Type Tuesday - Periodicals

One of the many treasures held within the California Historical Society's Kemble Collection on Western Printing and Publishing is a vast collection of periodicals on printing, lithography, graphic design, typography, book collecting and many more subjects that have to do with the print and publishing industries. Both national and international periodicals are available and range from early publications from the 19th century to the mid-century modern graphic design magazines from the 1960s. While these periodicals are highly valuable for their research content, I think their usefulness as inspiration for new design is truly invaluable! Just take a look at this feature, "An Alphabet of Litho-Graphics" from the Fall 1965 issue of Lithopinon: The graphic arts and public affairs journal of Local One, Amalgamated Lithographers of America. 

Periodicals can be accessed in the CHS library, open Wednesday through Friday from 12 -5. Need some inspiration? C'mon by and visit us!

Jaime Henderson,

Monday, July 14, 2014

Manuscript Monday—Stunning Civil War find

Last week I discovered this faded Civil War letter, written by the poet Charles Follen Adams to his brother John Swasey Adams while Charles was on picket near Belle Plain Landing, Virgina. The letter was written on January 1, 1863—the historic day on which President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation—and documents the reaction of African Americans in the area, who immediately began heading North, to Washington, D.C.

A reproduction of the letter follow, with excerpts transcribed:

Charles Follen Adams letter to John Swasey Adams, 1863 January 1, Ira Winchell Adams papers, MS 16, courtesy, California Historical Society

In the first place, a "Happy New Year" all around, which I hope I shall enjoy myself as I have made a good commencement this morning. Myself & 2 others from our company started from camp at 8 1/2 a.m. & are to remain 24 hours on picket about one mile from our camp. It is a very pleasant day and as there is no officer in charge of us we do just as we d--m please ("if I may be allowed the expression"). 

After breakfast I took a trip over to a negro plantation and went into some of their houses & sat down & talked about the President's Proclamation & as it was about luncheon time I got some boiled meat & hoecake for which I gave them some thread and needles which I happened to have about my trousers [?] & which tickled them mightily.

Charles then observes a group of twelve African Americans, men, women, and children, some riding and the rest walking. He asks one of the men where they are headed, and the man replies: "to Bill [sic] Plain" & from there to Washington. Tell anyone that thinks the Proclamation of no account to "put that in their coffee & cool it."

Marie Silva
Archivist & Manuscripts Librarian

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Type Tuesday - Rudolf Koch's Eve Series

Last Tuesday we featured Rudolf Koch's Kabel series, a straightforward type displayed by European Typefounders Inc. in decidedly male adverstisements. Today we feature another of Koch's designs, Eve (commonly known as Antiqua, but offered in the United States as Eve) also made available by European Typefounders Inc. 

Eve featured a curvier, more embellished font. Eve italic looked almost like cursive writing. In fact, Koch Antiqua Kursiv, created at the same time as the Eve/Antiqua series, but not shown in the specimen featured today, included oversized capital letters with floral decorative touches. 

Like the Kabel series, the adverstisements displaying the Eve font were geared toward a specific audience. A more feminine font than Kabel, the advertisements featured homegoods, romantic fashions and an emphasis on beauty. 

Jaime Henderson,

Monday, July 7, 2014

Manuscript Monday—California Aeronautic Company

This delightful stock certificate was issued by the California Aeronautic Company in 1876 and illustrated by the African American artist and lithographer Grafton Tyler Brown.

California Aeronautic Company stock certificate, 1876 April 3, MS 21, California Historical Society, MS 21_001.jpg
Brown's biographer Robert J. Chandler describes the apparatus soaring over the San Francisco Bay as a "hummingbird with propellers aft," although to this viewer it looks more like a robotic Dumbo. Either way—like so many dreams—the California Aeronautic Company's flying machine never got off the ground.

Marie Silva
Archivist & Manuscripts Librarian

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Type Tuesday - Rudolf Koch's Kabel Series

The Kabel Series was designed by German Rudolf Koch in 1927 and originally released by the Klingspor Foundry. Here it is offered by the European Typefounders, Inc. of New York. 

Offering a geometric sans-serif face the straightforward type evokes simplicity and strength, especially Kabel Heavy as seen in this advertisement for power tools. 

Clearly marketed as a font for the straightforward, strong, smart man who, as the following ad states "knows what he wants and wants - - always."

Next week, we will take a look at Koch's Eve Series, a type also gendered in its promotion and usage. 

Jaime Henderson

Monday, June 30, 2014

Manuscript Monday—J. M. Hutchings and Yosemite

In celebration of the opening of our new exhibition, Yosemite: A Storied Landscape, we present this rousing letter, from J. M. Hutchings to California Congressman Anthony Caminetti, in its entirety:

"Poorly and inefficiently managed as the Yo Semite Valley has been for lo! these many many years, I can partly realize what that wonderland—and the Big Trees—have done for California, in bringing people of refinement, and intelligence and wealth to the State, from all parts of the civilized world. These have dropped tens of millions of dollars hither and thither; and inadvertently, perhaps, been the foundation-builders of many prosperous enterprises. And, when California awakes up to broad views, insists upon honest and square dealing to 'the stranger that comes within her gate,' cultivates the magnetic power of kindness and courtesy to all, and eschews excessive charges with exacting impositions that chafe and anger, there will break the dawn of the most glorious day of prosperity this State has ever known."

J. M. Hutchings letter to A. Caminetti : San Francisco, 1892 Jan. 1, MS 3695, California Historical Society

Marie Silva
Archivist & Manuscripts Librarian

Monday, June 23, 2014

Manuscript Monday—An anarchist, his lover, and the Mercantile Library

Sounds juicy, doesn't it? In fact, this diary tells the unexceptional story of a failed affair between the future anarchist, labor leader, and Kaweah Cooperative Colony founder Burnette G. Haskell (at the time, a somewhat idle bourgeois student of the law) and a young woman named Sophie McFarlane, whom Haskell unsuccessfully courted at the Mercantile Library between the years 1878 and 1879.

Volume 1, 1878-1879, Burnette G. Haskell diaries and receipt, MS 952, courtesy, California Historical Society
The diary includes Argonaut clippings of mediocre love poetry Haskell wrote for McFarlane, and ends, with a dramatic flourish of self-pity, on July 7, 1879—the day she eloped with another man. Haskell later married Anna Fader, who assisted him heroically with his many projects and schemes, serving as Master Workman of a local Knights of Labor assembly and setting type for his newspaper Truth.

Haskell himself was an erratic and perplexing character: extremely well-read but prone to bizarre fancies; today a socialist, tomorrow an anarchist, the next day a Nationalist; on the one hand, a compulsive man who poured out his life into a series of insanely ambitious and ultimately doomed enterprises, and, on the other hand, one of the most influential radicals in nineteenth-century San Francisco whose work led to concrete and lasting gains for organized labor.

Marie Silva
Archivist & Manuscripts Librarian