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California lettersheet collection

 Collection
Identifier: Kemble Spec Col 09
The collection consists of California lettersheets, mostly pictorial, created approximately between the years 1850 and 1870, with the bulk dating from the 1850s. Pictorial lettersheets are illustrated with lithographs or wood engravings depicting California and Western themes. Intended to be used as stationery during and after the California Gold Rush, these lettersheets served as a kind of reportage, depicting important events and popular stories of the day. Common illustrated topics and scenes include: murders and executions; the San Francisco Vigilance Committee; natural disasters, especially fires (San Francisco) and floods (Sacramento); the Gold Rush; mining life (from perspectives sentimental, cautionary, and comic); festivals, holidays, and parades; buildings and street scenes; and views of San Francisco, Sacramento, and towns throughout the state's mining region.

The lettersheets in the collection were created by numerous California artists, engravers, lithographers, and publishers, notably: Charles Nahl; Britton & Rey and Pollard & Britton (San Francisco); Quirot & Co., Justh & Co., and Justh, Quirot & Co. (San Francisco); James M. Hutchings and Hutchings & Rosenfield (San Francisco); Anthony & Baker (San Francisco); Kuchel & Dresel (San Francisco); Cooke & LeCount (San Francisco); Charles P. Kimball and the Noisy Carrier's Publishing Hall (San Francisco); and Barber & Baker (Sacramento).

Dates

  • circa 1850-1870

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English, with a few lettersheets in German and French.

Access

Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Director of Library and Archives, North Baker Research Library, California Historical Society, 678 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. Consent is given on behalf of the California Historical Society as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.
Restrictions on Reproduction Photocopying is prohibited.

Extent

4 flat boxes (2.75 linear feet)

Overview

Consists of California lettersheets, mostly pictorial, created approximately between the years 1850 and 1870, with the bulk dating from the 1850s. Pictorial lettersheets are illustrated with lithographs or wood engravings depicting California and Western themes. Intended to be used as stationery during and after the California Gold Rush, these lettersheets served as a kind of reportage, depicting important events and popular stories of the day. Common illustrated topics and scenes include: murders and executions; the San Francisco Vigilance Committee; natural disasters, especially fires (San Francisco) and floods (Sacramento); the Gold Rush; mining life (from perspectives sentimental, cautionary, and comic); festivals, holidays, and parades; buildings and street scenes; and views of San Francisco, Sacramento, and towns throughout the state's mining region.

System of Arrangement

Arranged in two series: 1) Pictorial lettersheets; and 2) Non-pictorial lettersheets. Pictorial lettersheets are arranged in alphabetical order by Baird catalogue number, based on Joseph Baird's California pictorial letter sheets, 1849-1869 (San Francisco: David Magee, 1967). Descriptive conventions have been adapted from the same book.

Physical Location

Collection is stored onsite.

Acquisition Information

The California lettersheet collection is an artificial collection composed of lettersheets given to the California Historical Society by various donors, including Lowell J. Hardy, Charles Templeton Crocker, Harry T. Peters, the Wiltsee estate, Mrs. David Potter, and Mrs. Rankin P. Rickard. Some lettersheets are on indefinite loan from the M.H. De Young Memorial Museum.

Processing Information

Lettersheets were removed the California Historical Society's Fine Arts Collection, integrated into the Kemble Collection on Western Printing and Publishing, and processed by Marie Silva in 2013.

Lettersheets that had been separated from manuscript collections were reunited with their original collections, whenever possible. Lettersheets on which manuscript letters were written were also removed from the California Lettersheet Collection and cataloged as manuscripts. These manuscripts are listed in the finding aid for the California Lettersheet Collection, with separated materials notes indicating their manuscript call numbers.
Title
Finding aid to the California lettersheet collection, circa 1850-1870
Status
completed
Author
Finding aid prepared by Marie Silva.
Date
2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in: English

Repository Details

Part of the California Historical Society Repository

Contact:
678 Mission Street
San Francisco CA 94105