News & Tall Tales. 1800s.

San Francisco Gold Rush 1849.

Printers and Presses

July 9, 1851, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California

Printers - Cause of the Speedy Conquest of Mexico.

The Richmond (Virginia) Republican, in noticing a paragraph stating that a printer had just been rewarded for his services in the Mexican war, by a warrant for 160 acres of land, says:

"We have, no doubt that the reason of the speedy conquest of Mexico was the great number of printers in the American Army.

They knew their countrymen were wanting for news, and they knocked down a Mexican column, with as much coolness and dispatch as they would set up an American one. Neither in the field nor the printing office did they ever forget the importance of a bullet-in."

Press and Printers.Gutenberg and the printing press.
Johannes Gutenberg 
Inventor of the Printing Press 

Gutenberg. Fran Rees

Printers.History of California Newspapers.
A History Of California Newspapers, 1846-1858History of California Newspapers. 
Edward Cleveland Kemble


Printers.Printing Presses.
Printing Presses: History and Development from the Fifteenth Century to Modern TimesPrinters. 
James Moran

Printers.Printers and Printing 1800s.
The Invention of News: How the World Came to Know About ItselfNewspapers. 
Andrew Pettegree

Printers.Newspapers and Journalism.
Communities of Journalism: A History of American Newspapers and Their Readers  History of Newspapers.

Printers.History of California Newspapers.
A History Of California Newspapers, 1846-1858History of California Newspapers. 
Edward Cleveland Kemble

Journalism 1908: 
Birth of a Profession
Birth of a Profession. 
Betty Winfield

A History of the Black Press
(Moorland-Spingarn Series)
History of the Black Press. 
Armistead S. Pride

June 22, 1854, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California

To Our Readers

By the clipper ship Sea Serpent which arrived at San Francisco yesterday, we are in receipt of another Power Press from the works of R. Hoe & Co., of New York. This makes the third press which we have had constructed at the same manufactory, two of which we are now running. In the course of a week we shall be working three Power Presses by steam.

We have also received by the same vessel an entire new dress for our daily paper from the foundry of John T. White, of New York, an establishment favorably known to printers for the beauty and finish of its type. On or about the first of the ensuing month we shall present the Union to its thousands of readers in its new and elegant suit.

Besides the above a large supply of elegant paper adapted expressly to the Pictorial Union, has arrived, which will enable us to present an illustrated paper fur superior to any yet issued in California.

Our Job Office has likewise received great accessions, and there is now no office in the State that can compete with it in extent, or in the elegance of its material. All orders of whatever description will be promptly and satisfactorily fulfilled in this department.

It is worthy of note that the original type of the Union office was brought out on the first trip of the same vessel that now delivers to us the material of which mention is made above. We only hope that the present type will perform as excellent service as that which has left so many faithful and permanent impressions in bye gone days.

It is our intention hereafter, as it has been heretofore, to keep pace with all improvements in the art of printing of every description whatever, and to afford our readers all the benefit to be derived from them, as well as that to be gained by the earliest receipt of domestic and foreign news.

For the exceedingly liberal and generous patronage which has heretofore been extended to us we return our sincere acknowledgments, and if we merit a continuance of the patronage of our friends it will be by unceasing endeavors on our part to promote their own interests.

May 23, 1855, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California


Printers, it is said, die at an early age. This it doubtless caused by the noxious effluvia rising from the types, the want of exercise, constant employment, and the late hours to which their work is prolonged. There is no other class of human beings whose privileges are so few, whose labor is so continuous, whose wages are so inadequate, as printers. If a "typo" be a man of family, he is debarred of the privilege of enjoying their society at all times, because his hours of labor are almost endless, and his moments of leisure so few that they must be spent to recruit his exhausted energies, and prepare him for the renewal of his toils. Poor fellow! he knows nothing of sociability, and is shut out from the world as a convict in a prison cell. Truly he is in the world, yet knows not of it Toil, toil, toil, by night and by day, is his fate, until premature old age ends his existence. For the advancement of science, morality and virtue, the chords of his heart are sundered one by one, and when his race is run, and time to him is no more, he goes down to the grave uncared for and unknown, though his existence has been sacrificed for the benefit of his race.

When we hear mechanics crying out against oppression, and demanding certain hours for labor and for rest, we cannot but reflect upon this situation of our own craft; how every moment of their lives is forced into service to earn a bare subsistence, and how uncomplaining they devote them selves to the good of that same public, who wear them as a loose garment to be donned when convenient, and doffed when no longer needed.

Printers are universally poor men, and for two reasons. The first is, they rarely ever receive a fair compensation for their services; and the second is, that, inured to continual suffering, privation and toil, their purse-strings are never united at the bidding of charity, and the hard-earned "dimes" are freely distributed for the relief of their fellow-men. Thus it is that they live poor and die poor, and if a suitable reward does not await them after death, sad indeed must be the beginning, the existence and the end of poor "typos."

October 1, 1858, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California, U.S.A.

Caution to Printers.

A troupe, known as the "PENNSYLVANIANS AND SAN FRANCISCO MINSTRELS," which lately gave entertainments in this city, left suddenly without paying their printing bill. The object of this notice is to caution printers against trusting then, unless they desire to take the risk of being fleeced as we have been.

April 23, 1859, Los Angeles Star

Printer's Parody.

Oh, how happy are they, 
Who the Printer do pay, 
And have squared up for one year more; 
Tongue cannot express
The great joy of the " Press," 
When delinquents have paid the old score.

Printers all the day long,
Labor hard for a "Song," 
Oh, that all their bard fate you could see? 
They have worked night and day, 
And of course want their pay, 
To buy, sugar, and coffee, and tea.

One would hardly believe, 
What few dimes they receive, 
For the paper addressed to each name? 
Yet, 'tis farther below 
Than some people know, 
Or they'd pay up for fear or for shame.

October 23, 1860, The Waukesha Freeman, Waukesha, Wisconsin, USA

Printers in California.

The San Francisco correspondent of the New York Times writes of the compositors in a newspaper office in that city.

In little offices where they employ but fourteen men, I paused the other day, while the foreman, himself an ex-publisher of a fine family of dailies, pointed out his famous men.

"That stout man was a Lieutenant in Stevenson's regiment. He was a printer of a paper in this town before the gold discovery was made and used to go fishing with Gen. Vallejo.

"That one owns a fine rancho on the Sacramento river, on which there is this year a mobile crop of squatters. He was formerly a partner on one of our papers here, for which Broderick offered $60,000. He is fabulously old, but he made twenty-six hour work and wages, not long since, in twenty four consecutive hours.

"There is one who was partner in the State printing when for setting Spanish copy the Legislature allowed double price; and never discovered that the State printers took double wages for Spanish press-work also.

"The next man is the worthy brother of a member of Congress from close by New York City, who has made a good deal of noise during the last four years. He was formerly engaged in publishing a daily that still lives here.

"The next is a doctor, and was a partner on the Chronicle when it was worth $75,000.

"The next is a judge from one of the Western States. He has a shingle up and does some law, but likes type setting better, and suits his fancy either, as either business presses most and pays best.

"And so they go. I expect you to reach this conclusion: that with such men to set type, and forty-two papers to be supported, and no news to put in them, ours must be a reading people, from long and irrepressible habit."

June 5, 1876, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Printers at Pistol Points

There were rumors, yesterday, of a collision between two evening-paper printers, at Jelison's saloon, at the northeast corner of Kearny and California streets, Sunday morning, in which pistols were fired, and one of the disputants received knife wounds. The particulars of the affair were too doubtful to warrant publishing.

April 11, 1898, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A

Printers Praise The Call.

One of the largest meetings held by the Typographical Union since the commencement of the recent strike was held yesterday afternoon in the meeting hall of the organization. There were over two hundred printers present, and all were firm in their confirmation of the decision which has been made regulating the hours and pay of employes of job printing establishments. A unanimous vote of thanks was east by the members, thanking The Call for the unprejudiced and fair treatment with which it dealt with the arguments advanced by the printers against the methods of their employers.

September 7, 1898, San Francisco Call

Printers Organize a Club

A large number of printers held an enthusiastic meeting last evening at 321 Sacramento street to organize a Printers' James H. Barry Club. Representatives of all the printing trades were present and the club started with sixty-six members. S. H. Jenner was elected president and John H. Marble secretary. After adopting resolutions favoring Mr. Barry's election, the club adjourned to meet again next Tuesday evening.

The Naval Order of the United States has a history dating from 1890. Membership includes a wide range of individuals, many with highly distinguished career paths.

The San Francisco Commandery meets the first Monday of each month at the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club in San Francisco, California and holds two formal dinners each year.

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.




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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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