And wouldn’t I love to browse in that one. Something for everyone, including musical instruments, at the Pioneer Book Store on Montgomery Street in San Francisco.
The image is from the “Robert B. Honeyman, Jr. Collection of Early Californian and Western American Pictorial Material” at the Bancroft Library, on the UC Berkeley campus. That’s an all-absorbing place to browse too.
The Pioneer Book Store must have been one of the earliest book stores in San Francisco. It was advertising in newspapers as early as 1851.
Stationery, law books, sheet music (20,000 pages!), dictionaries, school books, law books, and literature of every kind. Another ad listed some of the popular poets available–Byron, Shakespeare, Milton, Burns, Keats, Longfellow. Just what a miner needed to while away the evenings in camp.
As the Daily Alta California noted on 11 January 1853:
We have in San Francisco three or four establishments whose fitting up and furnishing indicates permanence and a prosperous state of refined and refining business. Their stocks are heavy, varied and well selected, from the best publishing houses in England and America. By every steamer that arrives with freight from the Atlantic shores, the latest English and American publications are received. Such is the book trade of San Francisco, whose bookselling houses supply all the interior and the mines with every species of reading, and carry on a home traffic that, were figures shown, would surprise some of our Eastern friends, who sigh over the moral and mental darkness which still lingers around ” benighted California.”
With bookstores like Marvin and Hitchcock’s Pioneer Book Store, California was far from “benighted.”