Lot 99 of 575:
Letter from San Francisco 1850  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyers Premium):$840
$500 - $800

Letter from a San Francisco merchant describing a fire which ran through the city, and business conditions

Reynolds, William T.

San Francisco, CA


Sept. 17, 1850


Autograph letter signed, in ink. 2 pp. on 4-page stampless cover, addressed & postmarked on p.4. 24.8x19.8 cm (9¾x7¾").

Early letter from San Francisco during the gold rush, from a merchant in San Francisco to his wife, addressed to Mrs. William T. Reynolds, Care Josian Spalding Esq., Saint Louis, Missouri, with San Francisco postmark. In addition to a vivid description of a fire that swept through San Francisco, the writer describes his business prospects, and notes that we was planning on sending the letter the the ship Isthmus, with was about to depart San Francisco. With some neat, modern pencil descriptive notations on the addressed page.

A few excerpts:

Five hours ago… I turned out at the cry of ‘Fire’ and rushing into the Plaza saw the flames issuing from a small shanty on Pacific St. Two and a half hours ago I returned to the stone having witnessed the certain destruction of about one hundred houses & stores & the total extinguishment of the flames. So quickly does the devouring element do its work in this land of wooden buildings - But for the substantial brick stores lately built around the plaza & Montgomery Street the destruction would have been very much greater - they interposed a solid wall on which the fire could make no impression and, with the aid of the engines, checked the progress of the flames…

The houses were chiefly occupied by tavern keepers, small grocery men, bakers and quite a number of them by ladies of doubtful reputation - many of whom were wandering about quite ‘en deshabille’ [‘in negligee’]…

So far as we know, we have lost noting unless it may be a little lot of sugar, worth about one hundred dollars, purchased yesterday and not taken & this was probably saved. I write this by the Isthmus that leaves today but think it quite doubtful if it reaches you much sooner than by the next regular mail…

Business is daily improving now & we anticipate doing very well this next month, having a fine stock of goods and a very good location but just at the moment we can do but little as they are planking and grading the street in front of our store so that purchasers can hardly get to or from us - I have no time, now, to write any more so good bye - love to all at home and kisses for Willie.


Wm. T. Reynolds

Lot Amendments

Very good or better condition.

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