Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Type Tuesday - The Merrymount Press

Today we feature type specimens from the Merrymount Press. 

The press was founded by Daniel Berkeley Updike in  Boston, Massachusetts and remained active from 1893-1941.

The Merrymount Press is considered to have printed books that best represent the Arts and Crafts movement in American book arts.

The press' archives are housed at the Boston Athenaeum.

Jaime Henderson,

Friday, January 16, 2015

Mojo Navigator Rock & Roll News

The wild going-ons of San Francisco’s psych rock scene were recorded in the West Coast’s first rock & roll magazine Mojo Navigator R&R News. Its premier issue, published by teenagers David Harris and Greg Shaw on August 8, 1966, includes a colophon stating the Mojo Publishing Company, at 2707 McAllister Street, San Francisco, would publish weekly. The mimeographed, stapled zine did not stick too closely to this arduous weekly schedule - presumably its young editors were busy attending the many musical performances, light shows, be-ins and happenings that Mojo Navigator covered in its gossip and events columns. Instead, only fourteen issues were published beginning in August of 1966 and ceasing sometime in 1967. But these fourteen issues included interviews with bands that would come to be known as seminal rock & roll artists, and the short-lived zine would be considered a major influence for the creation and publication of Rolling Stone magazine.  

Harris and Shaw attended high school together in a Bay Area suburb. Harris had been a rock & roll fan, listening to Berkeley’s  KPFA Midnight Special radio show, which featured local artists such as The Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin playing live music and attending shows at the Longshoreman’s Hall, the Avalon Ballroom and the Fillmore Auditorium. Shaw was more interested in print – writing and publishing two fanzines. The first, Entmoot, was devoted to the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, and the second, a sci-fi fanzine called Freemwlort. What Shaw might have lacked in knowledge of the San Francisco rock & roll scene, he more than made up for with his zine making skills, including a keen talent for stenciling and being particularly handy with the mimeograph machine.  

  Young Greg Shaw at his mimeograph machine.

Courtesy rockandrollreport.com/book-review-bomp-saving-the-world-one-record-at-a-time/

Just out of high school, Harris, Shaw, and Geoff Evans, Mojo Navigator’s art director, moved to McAllister Street, nearby Golden Gate Park’s Panhandle, where the Diggers distributed free food to any person who was hungry and held rallies and happenings for the hippies that proliferated in the Haight neighborhood. From their apartment, Harris and Shaw began work on the first issue of Mojo Navigator R&R News. Published Tuesday, August 8, 1966, the typed, four-paged zine contained gossip and news about Bay Area artists such as Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company and R&B artists such as Howlin’ Wolf and Bo Diddley; Shaw’s record reviews of The Peter, Paul and Mary Album (“Don’t expect much from this record if you do buy it”) and the Byrds Fifth Dimension (“every song is flavored strongly with originality and performed flawlessly”); and a special report on radio DJ Wolf Man Jack, based out of Chula Vista, California, who could be heard in the Bay Area on XERB 1090 from 9 pm to 3 am. One hundred copies of the inaugural issue were printed and made available in local stores, such as Cosmo’s Grocery Store, the Psychedelic Shop and City Lights Bookstore.

As Mojo Navigator’s popularity grew so too did its print runs and distribution. The burgeoning San Francisco rock & roll scene created a fan base that yearned for a smart, hip and in-the-know music magazine that featured news and criticisms about the bands they were listening to. The teen magazines such as Teenbeat and 16 wouldn’t touch the long-haired, drugged out, heavy guitar bands, instead still focusing on teenybopper pop and American Bandstand hit makers. Music journalist Mick Farren noted: “A new and serious breed of rock fan required a publication that could be trusted to clue them in on all that was happening as original music – from A to Z, from The Animals to Frank Zappa – poured from every creative orifice....  An embryonic rock magazine would need to have the grit of the street and a delinquent iconoclasm.”

Short on the heels of the publication of East Coast writer Paul Williams’ Crawdaddy - the earliest rock & roll fanzine - Mojo Navigator R&R News provided its San Francisco Bay Area readers with reviews, gossip, and interviews with bands producing the acid-infused, psychedelic sounds of the local scene, while also keeping its hip readers in the loop about happenings such as the San Francisco Calliope Company’s dance parties and the Diggers' Love Pageant Rally, where participants gathered together to ingest LSD on October 6, 1966. Farren notes that Mojo Navigator’s writing was “smart, and yet still manage[d] to retain the disturbed and disturbing subversion of the street.” 

During Mojo Navigator’s just-over-one-year, fourteen issue run, Harris and Shaw managed to interview the heavyweights of  rock & roll, publishing possibly the first interview with the Grateful Dead in August and September of 1966 (before the release of their self-titled first album in 1967); and interviews with Big Brother and the Holding Co., Country Joe and the Fish, and the Doors. The magazine ceased publication in 1967, not before providing a major influence to fellow San Franciscan Jann Wenner, who began publication of Rolling Stone magazine in November of 1967.

In 1970 Greg Shaw introduced Who Put the Bomp in response to the "mainstream" music press. The magazine published the early writings of rock music journalists Lester Bangs, Greil Marcus and Richard Meltzer, and grew into an independent record label, BOMP!, with the 1974 release of the San Francisco-based band Flamin' Groovies' single "You Tore Me Down." BOMP! Records has released innumerable influential artists in the garage, punk and power pop genres. The label continues today under the guidance of Suzy Shaw, ex-wife and life-long friend and partner to Greg, after his death in 2004. 

The California Historical Society holds four of the fourteen issues of Mojo Navigator R&R News, including the rare first issue, and the issues featuring the two part interview with the Grateful Dead. We will be featuring our holdings of Mojo Navigator R&R News, along with other rock & roll ephemera and posters from the CHS vaults in an open house as part of our program Creating a Lasting Cultural Community: The 50th Anniversary of the Grateful Dead, featuring author Dennis McNally, Grateful Dead archivist Nicholas Meriweather and Peter Richardson, author of No Simple Highway: A Cultural History of the Grateful Dead, on Thursday, January 22, from 5:30 to 8:00 pm. Vault materials will be available for viewing in our library from 5:30 to 6:00, so be sure to get there early to check them out! Grab your ticket for the event here!

Works cited: 
Shaw, Suzy and Mick Farren. BOMP! Saving the World One Record at a Time. American Modern Books, 2007.

Jaime Henderson

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

This Tribe of People: The Witches

The California Historical Society has just processed and cataloged a recent donation of sixty-six photographs of self-described witches of Northern California from the late 1990s, taken by Peter Hughes (1948-2008).  Hughes, who lived and worked on the Monterey Peninsula from 1994 to 2006, wrote that in these photographs he wanted “to create a myth, reflect a personal ideal, and in the process, show my subjects as goddesses and gods, far removed from the mundane world in which they ordinarily live.”  Hughes set out to portray the images that the participants had of themselves, showing what the author and activist Starhawk said of these photos -- “what magic feels like from the inside.”
Witchcraft (or “Craft,” as it’s commonly referred to by its members) is practiced by men as well as women, men also calling themselves witches.  The Craft community is goddess-centered and its spirituality is nature-based.  Its practitioners see the Earth as alive and feminine.  The Craft celebrates the seasons and life’s passages, centering on cycles of birth, growth, death, decay and regeneration.  Cycles are symbolically represented by spirals, circles, pentacles and mandalas, many of these shapes appearing within the photographs.
A revival of interest in witchcraft occurred in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a time that embraced alternative modes of perception and the search for meaning and spirit in an increasingly materialistic culture.  This, along with a growing women’s movement and a renewed respect for folk traditions created an environment much more conducive to the philosophies of the Craft.  M. Macha Nightmare, who appears in several of Hughes’ photos, wrote:  “We began to call ourselves Witches.  Long associated with social outcasts and misfits, the term Witch also enabled us to identify with our foremothers and our women’s heritage.  We identified with the Witches who were persecuted and martyred in Europe during the fourteenth century through the sixteenth centuries.  For many, taking the name Witch signifies a new realization of their personal ‘power from within’ rather than ‘power over.’”
These witches see the goddess in everything and they invoke a goddess presence in their rituals.  Many witches have a specific pantheon, such as Greek, Celtic or Egyptian.  The presence of a male deity is often a part of their rituals, the more common forms being the cloven-hooved, antlered or horned gods (one particular image in the collection shows a male witch holding a pair of antlers to his head).
Traditionally, witches perform rites in their homes, backyards, beaches, and groves of trees, and the majority of these photographs were taken near the beach or in forested areas.  Most of the photographs are portraits of the witches in the nude.  Some witches work wearing robes, but more often they work in the nude, or, as they call it, Skyclad.  To be Skyclad symbolizes freedom and enables an unrestricted flow of energy.  Costumes, props and masks are often used in Craft work and many of these are on display in these photographs.  Most witches use tools, each associated with a cardinal point (e.g., North), and element (e.g., Fire) and a season.  Some of the most common tools used are the athamé (a double-sided dagger), sword, cup or chalice, and pentangle.  Natural objects such as feathers, bones and shells can also serve as tools, all of which are featured prominently in these images.
M. Macha Nightmare has said that Peter Hughes used his camera as his magical tool, reshaping the world.  Hughes’ widow, Denise Sallee (the subject of two portraits), said Peter considered himself a magician, a practitioner and believer in a magical universe.  She also noted, “When we finished this project he felt he had documented, as an anthropologist might, this ‘tribe of people.’”
The California Historical Society thanks Denise Sallee for her generous donation of this collection, Photographs of Witches of Northern California by Peter Hughes, 1997-1999 (PC 15)

Wendy Welker
Archivist & Librarian

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Type Tuesday - Typefoundry D. Stempel Ltd.

Today's Type Tuesday just a bit prematurely celebrates the 150th anniversary of the founding of Typefoundry D. Stempel Ltd. 

 On January 15, 1895 David Stempel opened his type foundry in Frankfurt on the Main, Germany. Besides employing  a cadre of important font designers, including Victor Hammer and Hermann Zapf, the foundry was known for being the first to cast modern slab serif typefaces with the introduction of its Memphis font in 1929. 

We feature D. Stempel Ltd.'s type specimen Success Series, "an exceedingly attractive type family," offering a variety of samples of the type along with examples of the type in advertising. 

Jaime Henderson

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Type Tuesday - More from Internationaler Graphischer Muster-Austansch des Deutschen Buchdricker-Vereins

Today we feature a few more selections from Internationaler Graphischer Muster-Austansch des Deutschen Buchdricker-Vereins, the publication of the German Printers Association of Leipzig. These images are taken from the 1889 edition of the publication. 

Jaime Henderson

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Type Tuesday - Taylor & Taylor

Type Tuesday will be taking a holiday break until the new year! Until then, enjoy a selection of ephemeral delights from San Francisco printers Taylor & Taylor!

Advertisement for the Packard automobile

Advertisement for the White House department store, San Francisco, CA

Advertisement for the Home Craft Shop, Oakland, CA

Luggage tag for cadets of the Hitchcock Military Academy, San Rafael, CA

Brochure advertisement for Sop-
O-zoN liquid hand soap

See you next on January 6th, 2015!

Jaime Henderson

Monday, December 22, 2014

Manuscript Monday—Happy Holidays!

In this week's edition of Manuscript Monday, we present a few lettersheets—near manuscripts, actually, since they were never written on—to welcome the winter holidays. Here's to a warm and convivial holiday season, but don't be like this jolly miner—stay off your horse if you can't tell its head from its hindquarters!

The jolly old miner, California Lettersheet Collection, Kemble Spec Col 09, California Historical Society

Happy New Year, 1856 To all at home, California Lettersheet Collection, Kemble Spec Col 09, California Historical Society

Marie Silva
Archivist & Manuscripts

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Type Tuesday - James Conner's Sons Typographic Messenger

More from the Kemble collection's impressive holdings of periodicals on printing! Our holdings include the first issue of The Typographic Messenger, along with a nearly complete run of the circulation.

The Typographic Messenger was the publication of the James Conner’s Sons type foundry of New York. James Conner began his stereotyping and type foundry in 1827. It was first foundry in the United States to introduce light faces. Upon his death in 1861 his sons, William Crawford and James Madison, managed the foundry under the name of James Conner’s Sons. 

The first issue (Vol. 1, Issue 1 of November 1865) began with an introduction proclaiming James Conner's Sons ambivalent feelings regarding the publication of the issue: It is with mixed feelings of pride and diffidence that we commit the first issue of THE TYPOGRAPHIC MESSENGER to the tender mercies of so critical an audience as the followers of the “art preservative:” pride, in the fact that our earnest efforts to produce a unique typographic art-specimen are measurably successful; diffidence, in the consciousness of many imperfections in style, matter and execution.

Despite such trepidation the brother's publication continued on as the bi-monthly mouthpiece of the type foundry. Its mast head read: Vox dicta perit; Litera scripta manet (or Written letter remains the main expression) and issues reported on news from the world of printing and carried advertisements for James Conner's type, along with type made available from other foundries; printing inks, presses and papers; and descriptions and illustrations of typesetting and printing machinery.

A later issue demonstrated a more confident attitude toward their publication. In May of 1869 (Vol. IV, No. 2), James Conner’s Sons themselves became the critical audience in their piece "A Review of Poor Printing": We have before us a newspaper, which, not to particularize too closely, is published in Illinois, that, in a five-line item on intemperance, gives room to a suspicion that the compositor and proof-reader might have been slightly “elevated” at the time of its compilation. “Drunkness” is substituted for the entire word, and “influen-ce” is divided as we here show, by carrying over the last two letters! In the item immediately above this very intemperate paragraph, in speaking of the “American Agriculturist,” the publishers’ names and address are given “ORANGE JUDD & Co., New Bork.” That is enough for one paper.

Along with the advertisements for printing equipment, this volume also offers wood type specimens, from William H. Page & Co. of Greeneville, Connecticut. 

Jaime Henderson

Monday, December 15, 2014

Manuscript Monday—Colombian Gold Rush

People are often surprised to discover the geographic breadth of the CHS manuscripts collection. Papers from Mexico, Panama, Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Hong Kong remind us that borders are in a sense a political fiction; California is as much a part of the Pacific Rim as it is a state in the Union. The Asbury Harpending papers (MS 950) are a case in point. After speculating in mining operations throughout the West and Mexico, Harpending turned his unscrupulous eye on Colombia and in its rich gold fields. This payroll statement for March 1890 is representative of Harpending's Colombian adventures. It includes the names of all of the employees of El Cristo Mine, including the women who washed and sorted the ore above ground. Little else is known about these working people—Harpending and business associates likely viewed them as operational costs to be managed and controlled—but documents such as these provide a poignant reminder of their individual humanity, swept up by the powerful forces of international commerce. Each name had a story.

Gold mining continues in Colombia today, often under extremely dangerous conditions. Moving photographs of some of the men, women, and children who work in the mines can be found here: http://www.aljazeera.com/photo_galleries/programmes/2011748834219548.htm

Jornales empleados en el mes de Marzo de 1890, Asbury Harpending papers, MS 950, California Historical Society
Marie Silva
Archivist & Manuscripts Librarian

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Type Tuesday - Marcus Brower & Co. of San Francisco

Type Tuesday features local type! Marcus Brower and Co. - printers, bookbinders, engravers, typographers and artists - were located at 300 Broadway, San Francisco. These samples are from an undated Marcus Brower and Co. type specimen. 

Jaime Henderson,