This book is surely the strangest that Paul Elder ever published. It is the antithesis of the attractive, well-printed, easily-read giftable volume that was the Elder specialty. Without a doubt a vanity publication, Errors of Thought in Science, Religion and Social Life (1911) is a long, rambling, incoherent screed on education, science, history, religion, and politics. It’s also poorly typeset, printed on coated stock, and published without a stiff binding. Two states have been seen, the second including an errata page which is just as incomprehensible as the main text. Indeed, it is difficult to understand why Paul Elder was willing to put his name on this bizarre book. And who was the author, identified only as “St. George”?
The story of St. George begins with George Hugo Malter (1852-1927) who immigrated to the United States from Silesia (then in Germany, now part of Poland) in 1866. Malter made his way to California and became a mining engineer, but by 1879 he had abandoned engineering to become a grape grower and winemaker. He proved a successful vintner, and by 1900 Malter owned one of the largest vineyards in California at over 2000 acres. He was a member of the Bohemian Club and the owner of the Emerald, a well-known yacht. The village around his home base in Fresno County was named Maltermoro (today a residential neighborhood of Fresno known as Sunnyside).
The winery’s main brand was called “St. George,” and it specialized in aperitif and dessert wines: Pale Dry Sherry, Dry Sherry, Sherry, and Mellow Sherry; Ruby Port and Tawny Port; Golden Muscat and Muscatel; Madeira and Grenache; Tokay, White Port, and Angelica.
In 1904, Malter married Mabel P. Richardson (b. ca. 1884), a California native. He was 52, she was about 20; it was the first marriage for both of them. Their son George Jr. (1906-1979) would eventually take the reins of the winery. It is the 27-year-old Mabel who is the author of our book. Sadly, I know nothing else about Mabel, although it’s now clear where she found her pseudonym. In 1914, Mabel wrote another eccentric book, The World Process, this time self-published by the “St. George Publishing Company.”
Prohibition was not kind to the St. George winery. By the time Malter died in 1928, all that was left was a small acreage and the manor house. The winery limped along until 1942, when it was purchased by the the Eastern wine enterprise L. N. Renault & Sons.