San Francsico, California: Pacific Rolling Mill Company, 1890. Item #502
8vo. 250 x 170 mm., [10 x 7 inches]. 100 pp., plus 4 leaves of ruled paper, 2 with measurements in manuscript. Illustrated throughout with simple drawings of parts, many stenciled with green wash; one plate folding. Bound in limp cloth covered boards, title in gilt on front cover; a cloth binding shows some wear to gilt title, two pencil drawings on front endpaper; other a very good, sound copy.
Straight forward price list of iron bar, steel, rail, rolled and forged metal, axles, nuts, bolts, washers, and dozens of other metal products. There is no introduction about the history of the firm, just images of parts, prices and a few lines of text describing specifications for some of the more complicated manufacture items.
What distinguishes this rare trade catalogue is the design sense of many of the images and the application of stenciled color to highlight the object. The printed form of the parts are in outline and as one pages through the catalogue, the images take on an abstract quality. Metal parts become contoured shapes with form being determined only by the light green wash applied to the physical part of the design. Although unintentional I am sure, this late 19th century publication, replete with many of the characteristics of period book design, exhibits a very modernist feel, one that is most unusual in publications of this nature.
Although called the 7th edition, this is only one of three issues of the PRMC’s product guide and price list that is known. Organized in 1867, PRMC grew continuously and by 1892 was producing more than 40 thousand tons of iron and steel. “This giant enterprise is so closely identified with the manufacturing interests of the Pacific Coast that there is scarcely a manufacturing firm or corporation on the Coast that does not depend upon its output. The mills are located at Potrero Point in South San Francisco and cover an immense area” (Master Hands).
Romaine, Guide to American Trade Catalogues, p. 200, this edition and one from 1886 both known in only one copy each at California Historical Society. OCLC cites an edition from 1885 in one copy at San Francisco Public Library, and this edition, 1890, also in only one copy at California H. S. See: Master Hands in the Affairs of the Pacific Coast, Historical, Biographical and Descriptive. A Resumé of the Builders of Our Material Progress. San Francisco: Western Historical Publishing Company, 1892, pp. 260.