Artifacts

Metal sign for Ghirardelli Chocolate
Admission book from the Panama Pacific International Exposition
Vigilante Bell
Men’s top hat and box
Silver Epergne
Toy metal horse and carriage
Wooden Pack Saddle
Table Stereopticon

 

As befitting an organization founded in the same year that California became a state, The Society of California Pioneers has amassed an important and wide-ranging group of objects that reflect the trades and occupations of its citizens as well as the full-blown emergence of a moneyed leisure class.  From exquisite jewelry to the elegant and luxurious silver service belonging to General Mariano Vallejo, the collection amply demonstrates that, in addition to being a state of mind, California has also traditionally been a state of ready cash and high quality merchandise.  Gold and silver, not surprising, were the media of choice for items of luxury and personal adornment.  Of particular note is the remarkable gold cane head fashioned from “locally mined” gold and gold-bearing quartz believed to have been made in 1850 by J, W. Tucker, San Francisco’s first master goldsmith.  The collection also includes the bejeweled Lick pin traditionally worn by The Society’s president, a Patek Philippe pocket watch with family portraits on its porcelain face, an eighteen-karat gold presentation chalice made by William Vanderslice, and a necklace and bracelet composed of solid gold coins.  The necklace is further ornamented by a gold nugget that came from a mine in the Mother Lode.  Among the many other aesthetically and historically significant objects in the exhibition are the City of San Francisco flag, a crosscut saw blade found at the site of Sutter’s Mill, a period hand-crafted ship model of the vessel the Rover, the original bell that rang out at Vigilante headquarters at Fort Gunnybags, and six painted porcelain miniature portraits of Samuel Brannan and his family.  Many of these artifacts were created and held by the original members of The Society of California Pioneers and bequeathed to The Society by their descendants.

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