Monday, June 16, 2014

Manuscript Monday—Seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Burgundian manuscripts?

Parchment manuscripts, 1643-1745, Paul Masson papers, MS 1421, courtesy, California Historial Society
These mysterious seventeenth- and eighteenth-century French parchment manuscripts form part of the recently cataloged Paul Masson papers. Masson was born in Burgundy in 1859 and immigrated to California in 1878. He worked for Charles Lefranc, proprietor of New Almaden Vineyard, and married Lefranc's daughter Louise. After his father-in-law's death, Masson assumed the management (and, eventually, ownership) of New Almaden Vineyard. He also founded his own winery in Saratoga, establishing himself as a major California "champagne" producer. Like many successful nineteenth-century Californians, Masson was unabashedly litigious, engaging in legal battles with his brother in France and his brother-in-law Henry Lefranc in California.

Parchment manuscripts (1643-1745) in the collection appear to relate to land holdings and vineyards in the Burgundian regions of Beaune and Volnay, possibly in the Masson family since the seventeenth century. These papers, some of which were created during the reign of the Sun King, are the oldest known manuscripts in the CHS collection. 

This lovely wine label (so French California!) is also from the Paul Masson papers, and has been digitized as part of an online album of California wine labels on Flickr Commons: https://www.flickr.com/photos/chs_commons/sets/72157644930685916/

Marie Silva
Archivist & Manuscripts Librarian
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