New Year’s Brew

New Years Brew
Robert Howell's "New Year's Brew", with artwork by Spencer Wright

Before continuing on, stop and read the text of Robert B. Howell’s “New Year’s Brew.” I’ll wait.

Now, read it a second time, keeping in mind the devastating 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, which happened just seven months before.  It does not sound like the work of someone wailing in despair over the still-ruined city. Instead it is full of hope and good cheer. Paul Elder and John Henry Nash had moved to New York City in an attempt to revitalize the business in the nerve center of American publishing. John Howell was put in charge of the new bookshop at Van Ness and Bush, designed by Bernard Maybeck.

I’m guessing that Robert Howell was related to John Howell, does anyone have more information on him?

May these words of good cheer follow us into the new year. Happy 2011 to all!

A Christmas Message of Peace and Love

This Christmas card was issued in late 1906, after Paul Elder and John Henry Nash had setup an outpost in New York City following the earthquake and fire of April 18th. It was issued with an envelope that doesn’t match the card’s artwork; it may have been a generic Christmas envelope used for all the store’s cards.  The poem is by Mary Ogden Vaughan, of whom I know little except that she published other poems in The Overland Monthly. The illumination is by Santa Barbara artist Robert Wilson Hyde.

May you have a warm, healthy and peaceful holiday season.

Hyde Christmas
"A Christmas Message of Peace and Love"
Hyde Christmas envelope
Envelope with non-matching artwork

Christmas Carol Series

In 1902 Elder and Shepard published a series of six Christmas carols, on single sheets with particularly beautiful three-color printing. The artwork is by Harold M. Sichel (1881-1948), who was one of Elder’s favorite art contributors over the next decade. His “HMS” monogram is visible on the cover just underneath the center box, and also reversed on the rear cover. The rear cover clearly was printed by turning the block over.

I Saw Three Ships, exterior
I Saw Three Ships, interior
Coventry Carol, exterior
Coventry Carol, interior
Wassail Song, exterior
Wassail Song, exterior
Wassail Song, interior
Wassail Song, interior
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, exterior
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, interior