How many PPIE books did Elder publish?

Paul Elder & Co. published twelve titles directly or indirectly related to the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Each title below is preceded by its checklist number.

11. The Architecture & Landscape Gardening of the Exposition
16. The Art of the Exposition
46. California and The Opening of Gateway Between the Atlantic and the Pacific (not published until 1916)
47. California, a Poem
54. Catalogue De Luxe of the Department of Fine Arts, Panama-Pacific International Exposition (two volumes)
106. The Fourth-Dimensional Reaches of the Exposition
109. The Galleries of the Exposition
126. Holland, An Historical Essay
162. Little Bronze Playfellows
197. Nature and Science on the Pacific Coast
227. The Palace of Fine Arts and Lagoon
278. The Sculpture and Mural Decorations of the Exposition

Additionally, Elder published two books for the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego, which opened just a few weeks after the PPIE and stayed open a year longer:

12. The Architecture and Gardens of the San Diego Exposition
271. The San Diego Garden Fair



Standard Upheld colophon small
Colophon of “The Standard Upheld,” by Morgan Shepard, 1902. Copy #1 of 500.

In publishing, a colophon is a brief description of a book’s production or publication details. The Latin word colophon comes from the Greek κολοφων meaning “summit,” or “finishing.” The term originally applied to inscriptions appended to the end of ancient Near East texts written on clay tablets. The colophon would contain such facts as the scribe, the owner, the literary contents and occasionally the reason for writing. For example, the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible contains colophons at the end of every book, noting, among other things, how many verses the book contains.

House That Jack Built colophon
Unusual hand-drawn colophon from “The House That Jack Built,” by Robert Wilson Hyde, 1904

Most, but not all, Paul Elder publications after 1902 contain a colophon. By about 1906, the usual formula was: title, author, printer, month and date of publication. Most colophons were written out in full sentences, stylistically matching the tone and content of the book. From a research standpoint, the colophons are useful in pinning down when Elder’s printers (Nash, Swart, Funke, and Orozco) joined, then later left, the Tomoye Press.

Elder’s style, which mimicked that of other fine press books of the time, was to put the copyright information on the title page verso, and the colophon on its own page following the last page of text. In modern American books, the colophon has been subsumed into the copyright details, typically placed on the title page verso. European books often place the copyright/colophon at the end of the book.

Wayfarers in Italy colophon
The earliest Elder colophon I have found so far, “Wayfarers in Italy,” by Katherine Hooker. The colophon is dated 1901, but the book’s title page reads 1902. Paul Elder has signed with the red “E”, Morgan Shepard with the red “S”
Yosemite Legends colophon
Colophon from “Yosemite Legends,” by Bertha Smith, 1904
Book of Hospitalities colophon
Colophon from “A Book of Hospitalities and Record of Guests,” by Arthur Guiterman, 1910
Charity colophon small
Colophon from “Charity,” verses selected by Beulah Warner, 1911
San Francisco Purdy colophon
Colophon from “San Francisco, As It Was, As It Is, and How To See It,” by Helen Throop Purdy, 1912
Erics Book of Beasts colophon
Colophon from “Eric’s Book of Beasts,” by David Starr Jordan, 1912
Categories FAQ

Paul Elder “Postage Stamps”

A selection of Paul Elder “postage stamps”

Pick up a book that was sold at Paul Elder’s bookshop, and open to the inside back cover. Quite often, in the lower-left corner, you will find—for want of a better term—a “postage stamp.” The size of an actual postage stamp and moistened in the same manner, they were affixed to many if not most of the books sold in the shop: not just Elder’s own publications, but all the other books too. They were probably affixed by the cashier at the till while wrapping up the book.

The earliest known stamp (A) dates from 1899, before Elder and Shepard began to use the tomoye. It looks rather like a heraldic design: “per pale argent and sable on a vertical arrow, a seahorse traversed.” At this point Elder was still calling himself “D. P. Elder.”

The earliest known tomoye stamp (B) is from 1901, by which time Elder had dropped his given first name “David.” The Santa Barbara (C) and San Francisco (D) stores each had its own stamp; perhaps New York did as well but that has not been seen. Stamp E, featuring a tomoye surrounded by delicate tracery, had the longest lifespan; it has been seen as early as 1911, and as late as 1946.

By the 1950s, much had changed. Paul Sr. died in 1948, and Paul Jr. moved the bookstore to the corner of Sutter & Stockton. The company now used self-adhesive stickers (F) with a decidedly modern look to match the decidedly modern store.

The Paul Elder Gallery

The gallery at Paul Elder's Post St store (1921-1948)

Can a bookstore also be an art gallery? If the bookstore was Paul Elder & Company, the answer was a resounding “yes.”

Elder had learned about the book business while working for William Doxey at his bookstore in the Palace Hotel on Market Street. But while photos of Doxey’s shop show nothing but books, Elder’s stores included a healthy dose of objets d’art: paintings, prints, pottery, metalwork. This was the influence of Morgan Shepard, Elder’s partner from 1898 until 1903. Shepard was both an author and an artist, and he decorated the original 238 Post store (1898-1903).

Art objects were for sale from the beginning, but it wasn’t until 1909 that Elder had a lecture hall/exhibition space within the bookstore. Both the 239 Grant store (1909-1921) and the 239 Post store (1921-1948) had gallery rooms. The photo at right shows the Post St gallery adorned with Asian prints.

How many exhibitions did Elder host? Very many. Years ago I started making a list of all the artists’ shows at the Paul Elder Gallery, but I gave up when the count grew past fifty. It seems that the gallery was never empty for long.