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San Francisco Gold Rush 1849.

 

The Levison Brothers, California Jewelry Co. was active from 1859 to 1935.

  • Louis Levison, Founding Partner: Second of the two original Levison brothers who started the business. Born Germany 1827, died 1901.
  • Herman Levison, Founding Partner, Senior Proprietor: One of the two original Levison brothers who started the business. Born Germany 1831, died San Francisco 1896.
  • Louis Oscar Levison: Son of Herman Levison, grew up in Germany but ended up running California Jewelry Co. as a firm partner from 1896 upon his father Herman's death, to 1935 when the firm was dissolved. Born 1870, died 1953, California.
  • Walter H. Levison: Son of Louis Oscar Levison. Secretary of California Jewelry Co. from 1927 to 1929. Grew up in San Francisco, and lived in Belvedere, California until his death. Born 1904, died 1997.

Founded in 1859, they occupied 629 Washington Street, San Francisco, California by 1863, and by 1871 moved into two floors of their own building at 134 Sutter Street, San Francisco, California, furnished with machinery, tools, and appliances powered by a 25-horsepower engine.

October 23, 1863, Daily Alta California: Levison Bros. 5 shares in Veatch (Comet edge) Silver Mining Company, Clifton, N.T.

Levison Bros. is noted as Consignees on various ships arriving in San Francisco, i.e.

  • March 15, 1865, Per Norwegian ship Iduna, Captain Erickson, 172 days from Bordeaux. Mdse to Ed de Rutte.
  • August 25, 1865, Daily Alta California: Per St. Jean, 139 days from Bordeaux. Mdse to Schroder & Co.
  • October 10, 1865, Per Tony (cq).
  • April 19, 1866, Daily Alta California: Per Ocean, Captain Radman, 147 days from Hamburg. Mdse to Ziel, Bertheau & Co. Levison Bros. (Passengers from Hamburg on the Ocean: W. T. Schultze and 5 children, Bertha Strauss, Harriet Strauss.)
  • July 7, 1866, Daily Alta California: Per Explorer, Captain Trumble, 127 days from Liverpool. Mdse to Wm. MacCann & Co.
  • September 1, 1866, Daily Alta California. Per French barque Gustave, Captain Picard, 145 days from Bordeaux. Mdse to Pascal Dubedat & Co.
  • Levison Bros Ad 1869.January 17, 1867, Daily Alta California: Per Almena from New York
  • March 25, 1867, Daily Alta California: Cargo per steamers Elder and Douro from Southampton.
  • October 14, 1867. From Southampton
  • April 2, 1868, SS Sacramento from Panama
  • May 16, 1868, SS Sacramento, from Panama
  • June 9, 1868, SS Golden City, from Panama
  • June 19, 1869, Daily Alta California: Per Robin Hood (980 tons), Captain Taylor, 129 days from New York. Mdse to Moore & Co.

Ad right: Daily Alta California, San Francisco, 1869.

The ownership of the California Jewelry Co was comprised of Levison, George Marcus, Charles Lemme, J. T. Bonestell and William P. Morgan. The address was listed as 134 Sutter St, San Francisco. They were sole agents for the American Watch Co, National Watch Co, Howard Watch Co, and Chs. E. Jacot Watches. They were also jewelry importers and manufacturers, diamond importers and lapidaries.

July 12, 1871, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A. An Important Improvement.— Messrs. Levison Bros., importers of jewelry and silverware are erecting a magnificent iron and brick structure on the north side of Sutter street, new Kearny. The first floor is intended for stores, and the second floor will be used by the Levisons for jewelry manufacturing. The estimated cost of the building is $70,000.

The Levison jewelry manufactory already runs a steam engine and gives employment to thirty men, and will now greatly extend its operations.

Levison Bros National Watch Co 1870.

April 8, 1873, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California
April 8, 1873, Marysville Daily Appeal, Marysville, California

The Eddy Gold and Silver Mining Company was incorporated today to work at Mud Springs, El Dorado county; capital stock, $2,400,000.

April 9, 1873, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California

INCORPORATIONS.: Articles of incorporation of were filed yesterday in the office of the Secretary of State . . . of the Eddy Gold and Silver Mining Company, to operate at Mud Springs, El Dorado county; capital, $2,400,000 in shares of $100 each; Directors -- Louis Levison, Frank Locan, Alexander Austin, Gustavus Holland and Henry Marshall; The principal place of business will be in San Francisco.

January 1874, Daily Alta California, San Francisco.

Charles Lemme, California Jewelry Company.

February 11, 1876, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California

NOTICE

Mr. Chas. Lemme has this day retired from the copartnership in the Manufacturing Department of the California Jewelry Co.

Levison Bros.
San Francisco, February 9th, 1876.

July 12, 1876, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California

A DISHONEST JEWELER
He Robs His Employers and then Blows His Brains Out.

An examination of the papers left by Lawrence H. Lundius, who blew his brains out on Monday night, reveals the fact that he bad been engaged in pilfering from his employers. Among the letters was the following:

San Francisco, July 10th, 1876

Messrs. Levison Bros.: I have committed a great crime for which I beg you to forgive me. There is no one else guilty; I am alone the perpetrator. My wife is innocent, and so is everybody else. Yes, I repeat it, my wife is innocent, and I pray you not to molest her at her arrival in this country, from Europe, In a few weeks. L. H. Lundius.

The note was neatly written and carefully sealed in an envelope, on which was written in pencil: "All that belongs to Messrs. Levison you will find in my trunk. The key is in."

Yesterday Lundius' room was searched and jewelry found to the amount of nearly $4000, which had been abstracted from Levison Bros, establishment, in which he had an office and occasionally worked. Mrs. Lundius has been East and is on her way home.

1877, San Francisco Directory:

  • Levison Bros. (Herman Levison and John T. Bonestell), importers watches, jewelry, diamonds, silverware, watch materials, etc., 134 Sutter.
  • Levison, Herman (Levison Bros., and California Jewelry Co. Dwelling Palace Hotel.
  • Levison, Jacob, with California Jewelry Co., Dwelling 1205 Bush.


Revised and expanded from the original 1980's release, California Pioneer and Fractional Gold: Historic Gold Rush Small Change 1852-1857 And Suppressed Jewelers' Issues 1858-1882

Fractional Gold, California Pioneer.Throughout the early years of the California gold rush there was a constant need for coinage to satisfy the commercial needs of a booming community being based on gold dust. While many firms issued coins from $2 1/2 to $50 denominations, there was still a need for coins of smaller denominations.

When the United States branch mint in San Francisco finally was established in 1854, only 15,000 gold $1 pieces were coined, with no $1 denominations being issued the following year.

Fractional Gold. United States $3 Gold Pieces. 1854-1889. The need for smaller fractional denominations of gold coins may have been met by hundreds of varieties of small gold pieces in quarter, half, and dollar sizes.

Fractional Gold Coin. Quarter. 1868. California.

More than 450 varieties are known to exist, some undated but most bearing dates between 1852 and 1882. Most are anonymous or identified only by initials, but research over the years has made it possible to attribute the majority of the issues to manufacturing jewelers in San Francisco, California and Leavenworth, Kansas.

The San Francisco firms included California Jewelry Co. (Levison Bros.) Around 1859-1860, Robert B. Gray & Co. produced fractional coins (marked G). Gray sold his interests to the California Jewelry Co. in 1871. Some of its coins bear letter L, a reference to its Levison Bros. watch division.

These small coins have been found in shipwrecks of the time period, and one was featured in an 1852 newspaper account from New Orleans: “We were shown this morning a gold half dollar, California money, which is so much like the United States gold dollar piece, that the best judges would be completely deceived at a first glance. The half dollar piece is lighter in color, and somewhat smaller in diameter, than the dollar. They are of a private issue, and have stamped on them, HALF-DOLLAR CALIFORNIA GOLD 1852.” The lighter color of these coins is the result of their native California bullion, which is rich in silver.

In 1876, fractional currency was slated to be replaced with silver coins. By 1891, bankers and businessmen disliked dealing with gold for myriad reasons, including inconvenience and issues with weight. They got rid of their gold as fast as possible.


1884, The Industries of San Francisco

California Jewelry Company

Levison Bros., Proprietors, No. 134 Sutter Street, between Montgomery and Kearny Streets

The Industries of San Francisco. 1884. Frederick H. Hackett.

The California Jewelry Co. occupies a leading position in the jewelry trade of San Francisco and the Pacific Coast. It is noted for the perfect workmanship and exquisite taste of all goods turned out of its manufactory. The company was founded some twenty-five years ago by Levison Bros., the style changing a few years ago to the present name. The company's office and establishment are at No. 134 Sutter Street, the latter occupying spacious and well appointed rooms, covering an area of 67-1/2x120 feet.

Fifty people are employed, all of whom are thorough masters of their particular work. The superiority of the products of the California Jewelry Company is conceded by the trade, and they are sent everywhere in the course of a large exporting business, or as souvenirs or samples of California taste or workmanship., Quartz jewelry, native stones, diamond work, the making of good and silver plate, and ornaments, are special and notable features of the company's manufactures, the resources and experience of the house enabling it to make a very superior article of all descriptions of jewelry.

September 1891, The Jewelers' Circular and Horological Review, Volume 23: Last Week's Arrivals. The following out-of-town buyers were registered in New York during the past week: J. T. Bonestell, Levison Bros., San Francisco.

October 30, 1896, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California

HERMAN LEVISON DEAD.
His Life Ended in Apartments Over a Stockton Street Restaurant.
The Well-Known Jeweler Acquired Great Wealth and Spent It Freely.

Herman Levison, senior proprietor of the California Jewelry Company, died in his apartments, over the Pup restaurant, Wednesday night. Mr. Levison had been in failing health for three years. The immediate cause death was pneumonia, which developed last Monday. The patient's condition was not deemed dangerous until Wednesday afternoon, when J. T. Bonestell, a member of the company, summoned. Dr. Mayer. An hour later consulting physicians were called, but the patient did not have sufficient vitality to resist the attack of the disease.

Herman Levison was widely known in mercantile circles of this country and Europe. He was an open-handed, generous and broad-gauged man of affairs, who was liberal in extending credit, to smaller dealers, and in some instances his confidence and generosity were abused, although not to the extent of marring the success of the company which he directed.

In 1868 Herman Levison married Miss Marcus, sister of George Marcus, who is now a member of the firm. For many years Mr. Levison owned a beautiful home at the corner of Van Ness avenue and Bush street, which he sold to Johnny Sake for $65,000. There the jeweler, whose income was large, entertained lavishly. He also maintained a house in Hamburg, Germany, where his wife and three children now reside. His daughter, the eldest child, is the wife of Mr. Jason, a prominent banker of Hamburg. Two boys, one aged 20 and the other 14 live with their mother in Hamburg, where Mrs. Levison has resided much of the time since 1888.

In 1885 Mr. Levison organized a pearl fishing company. He and his associates obtained from the Mexican Government an exclusive privilege or concession for gathering pearls In the gulf of California. Mr. Levison invested $85,000 in the enterprise, which did not prove as remunerative as the company expected.

The firm of Levison Bros, was established in 1861, and its business operations have since been very extensive and highly profitable. The estate of Herman Levison embraces the land and the building at 134 Sutler street, occupied by Nathan Dohrmann & Co. and Vanderslice. While the rich jeweler made money rapidly he did not hoard his wealth. He was fond of good living and indulged the pleasures which his wealth could afford. He traveled extensively, and whenever he tarried for any length of time secured pleasant apartments, and surrounded himself with the comfort and luxuries of life.

The surviving members of the California Jewelry Company are J. T. Bonestell, William P. Morgan and Gustav Marcus. Mr. Levison was born in Germany fifty seven years ago.

February 16, 1890, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

The Tuckey Estate

A. Tuckey, a jeweler, doing business on Montgomery street, died suddenly on Friday afternoon. Within a few hours after the death, Gustav Marcus applied to Judge Levy for special letters of administration on the dead man's estate, and the petition was granted. Marcus is a member of the jewelry firm of Levison Brothers, who claim to be creditors of the deceased. The bond in the case was fixed at $10,000. (By February 18, 1890, Gustav Marcus had been granted special letters of administration by Judge Coffey.)

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; Maritime Library, San Francisco, California, various Maritime Museums around the world.

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