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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:

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,

Monday, December 8, 2014

Manuscript Monday—Epistolary drama

Processing an archival collection is a lot like watching a baseball game: stretches of mild boredom alternate unexpectedly with moments of great pleasure, excitement, and discovery. This is especially true of the Asbury Harpending papers (MS 950), a collection in which wonderful gems of correspondence are found scattered amongst the most tedious financial records. Many of these letters hint at moments of great personal crisis, the details of which can only be guessed. The letter below, written to Harpending by his longtime associate George D. Roberts, has a desperate Dostoevskian quality typical of Harpending's correspondence; in fact, the sum of money in question (3,000) is exactly the sum so desperately needed by Dmitri in The Brothers Karamazov.
[George D. Roberts?] letter to Asbury Harpending, 1884 November 8, Asbury Harpending papers, MS 950, California Historical Society
Harpending and Roberts had a relationship that would today be termed "dysfunctional," with Roberts often accusing his friend and business associate of false accusations, untruths, and great injustices. Nonetheless, they appear to have stuck it out together. Whether their bond was one of true friendship or complicity (or both) can only be guessed.

Marie Silva
Archivist & Manuscripts Librarian

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

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

Today we feature some more examples of international print and typography found in our Kemble Collection. These exquisite samples of design are found in an 1891 German volume entitled Internationaler Graphischer Muster-Austansch des Deutschen Buchdricker-Vereins. 

The text of this beautiful sampler is in German and I must admit to my ignorance of the language. I gather that the book was either curated or provided samples of work by members of the German Printers Association of Leipzig, although there are samples from printers all over the European continent.  

The Kemble Collection holds three volumes of Internationaler Graphischer Muster-Austansch des Deutschen Buchdricker-Vereins. Stop by our research library to view in person or stay tuned to Type Tuesdays to see more of these magnificent pieces.

Jaime Henderson