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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Type Tuesday - Hazeltine Typesetting, Inc.

Today we feature outlandish types from Oakland, California. These antiquated calligraphic alphabets, from 1959, were offered by Hazeltine Typesetting, Inc. 

More unique types from Hazeltine can be found in their Library of Type, available for viewing in the North Baker Research Library at the California Historical Society. 

Jaime Henderson,

Monday, February 24, 2014

Manuscript Monday – Jesuits and Franciscans

The stories of California and Mexico—past, present, and future—are inextricably linked. They are also global stories. For this first installment of “Manuscript Monday” we present an eighteenth-century manuscript letter to the Viceroy Marquis de Croix from the Franciscan college in Mexico City. The letter was penned around 1767, the year King Charles III expelled the Jesuits from Spain and Spanish America, radically changing the course of religious history in the New World, including California. 

Representación del Colegio [Apostólico de Propaganda Fide de San Fernando] al Virrey, MS Vault 151, courtesy, California Historical Society, MS Vault_151[a], MS Vault_151[b].
 In this letter the Franciscans thank the Viceroy for entrusting them with the missionization of California, but also emphasize the urgent need for more priests and warn that a single missionary living alone among the neophytes is an exceedingly dangerous thing (“una cosa sumamente peligrosa”).

To learn more about mission life and indigenous cultures in California, please join us this Thursday evening for a conversation between Professor Lisbeth Haas and Archivist of the Archives of the Archdiocese of San Francisco Jeffrey Burns about Haas' new book, Saints and Citizens: Indigenous Histories of Colonial Missions and Mexican California.

Marie Silva
Archivist & Manuscripts Librarian

Friday, February 21, 2014

A paltry knave, coward, and liar!

From CHS' collection of broadsides comes this fantastic piece of enraged eloquence and public contumely:

Thos. S. King, having published in the Evening Bulletin..., Vault B-049, courtesy, California Historical Society, Vault B-049.jpg   
Thanks to Library Associate Debra Kaufman, this and other (far less venomous) broadsides are available on Flickr Commons:

 Marie Silva
Archivist & Manuscripts Librarian

California Menu Collection

For a recent dinner held in celebration of a friend’s birthday, a group of us gathered at Joe’s of Westlake in Daly City. In addition to enjoying drinks in the restaurant’s classic bar - perfect for birthday festivities - we gathered to have our last meal at Joe’s, as the restaurant had recently been sold , the plan being a remodel of its mid-century design and a refashioning of its menu.  We recalled meals shared at Joe’s and wondered about what the changes would bring. We watched patrons stuff their pockets and handbags with matchbooks, coasters, and cocktail napkins, and we heard rumors that even menus had started to disappear!  Sure enough, a Joe’s of Westlake “last menu” is available on eBay at the time I write this.

As an archivist who frequently works with ephemeral material, and having just recently guided an exceptional intern through the processing of the California Historical Society’s menu collection, I found this rumor particularly delightful. Like most ephemeral items, menus evoke a memory of time well spent and the menus in our collection show evidence of this, with handwritten notations of the date the restaurant had been visited, and with whom, and little marks highlighting the entrees ordered and drinks and desserts enjoyed.

Menu, Coppa's Neptune Palace

But more than just great memories, many menus offered restaurant goers an almost fantasy-like experience. In an online piece celebrating Taschen’s publication of Jim Heinmann’s book Menu Design in America, Eduardo Santiago suggests that “illustrations on the cover of a menu told customers what the place promised.”   Coppa’s Neptune Palace offered its patrons the opportunity to dine under the sea, while Trader Vic and Don the Beachcomber evoked exotic dinners on tropical islands in the South Seas. 

Menu, Trader Vic
Menu, Don the Beachcomber

Los Angeles Mexican café Casa La Golondrina, located in the first brick house built in Los Angeles on historic Olvera Street, encouraged its patrons to recall the early days of California. The small print at the bottom of its 1945 era menu, next to an image of a couple dancing in traditional Mexican dress, reads: In striving to maintain the traditions of Early California, we do not allow ladies dancing in slacks or men in shirt sleeves.

Menu, Casa La Golondrina

Of course not all menus evoke the sort of fantasy and promise of the abovementioned – some prove rather lackluster.  Such is the case with a Schwab’s Pharmacy menu from the 1950s. Rather than conjuring the old Hollywood hot spot where starlets are discovered sipping malts and screenwriters wait to refill prescriptions while munching on club sandwiches, the menu more accurately recalls the hilarious Saturday Night Live segment, Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey.

Menu, Schwab's Pharmacy

Certainly menus are important keepsakes, but they are also valuable for the cultural and historical information they hold. Menus reveal food preparation techniques and trends – a 1921 menu from Marcell states the restaurant’s market conditions: Cattle: Mostly grass feed, fancy steer only fair. Fancy Lamb. Milkfeed veal (from Marcell’s Ranch). Our current food trend of locally reared and grass-fed meats is typically printed on many of the menus we see today, but Marcell’s menu shows itself as a predecessor to this trend. Menus also demonstrate the influence of world events and economics on eating habits. For example, many 1940s era menus in our collection proudly state that their prices are in compliance with OPA Regulations. These regulations, set forth by Office of Price Administration, were established during World War II to place price ceilings on agricultural commodities and to control the rationing of scarce supplies such as coffee, sugar, meats and processed foods.

In processing our menu collection we hope to facilitate a variety of research endeavors related to food histories, cultural trends in dining, and the histories of many important California restaurants. To learn more about the California Menu Collection see our finding aid made available on the Online Archive of California, and to view more menus visit the California Historical Society’s Flickr Commons page.

Jaime Henderson
Archivist, California Historical Society

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Type Tuesday - Recommended Reading

A cold has kept me away from the type treasures in the California Historical Society's Kemble Collection on Western Printing and Publishing this week, but I still have some treats to share! 

A good friend recently gave me Simon Garfield's book Just My Type and I have been having a great time reading it. Garfield provides histories of both contemporary and traditional types and explores how effective (or not) these types are when appearing in magazines, album covers, corporate branding, products and electronic devices ranging from PlayStations to IPhones.

Another great find has been Louise Fili and Steven Heller's Scripts: Elegant Lettering from Design's Golden Age. From cover to cover the book is filled with beautiful samples of type specimens, ephemera and signage with modish, loopy and sophisticated types, including some types that have made an appearance on this blog (see the January 21st entry from Letters and Lettering).  

Back to the regular features from the Kemble Collection next week!

Jaime Henderson

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Type Tuesday - Cooper Black

Today's Type Tuesday features Cooper Black. The type was designed by Oswald Bruce Cooper and offered by the Barnhart Brothers & Spindler type foundry. Upon its creation in 1921 the type was promoted as the font "for far-sighted printers with near-sighted customers" and labled "the Black Menace" by its disparagers. In 1966 Cooper Black was favored by a series of Los Angeles-based musicians.  

The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds, released May 1966

Frank Zappa,Freak Out!,UK,Deleted,DOUBLE LP,416698

The Mothers of Invention, Freak Out!, released June 1966

Buffalo Springfield, Buffalo Springfield, released late 1966

A few years later, in 1971, The Doors released L.A. Woman, also using the Cooper Black font on their album cover. 

Although a seemingly straightforward type, Cooper Black captured the aesthetic imaginations of these more psychedelically inclined musicians. 

Jaime Henderson,

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Type Tuesday - Cortelyou's New-York Type Foundry

City shout outs from Peter Cortelyou's Foundry 22, Beekman Street, New York, 1867

Jaime Henderson