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Edward Vischer papers

 Collection
Identifier: H-Mss-0921

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Includes four published portfolios, The Mammoth Tree Grove (1862), The Washoe Mining Region (1862), Pictorial of California Landscape (1870), and Missions of Upper California (1872), along with an important file of original Vischer drawings and paintings; two scrapbooks of California scenes; numerous volumes of California scenes; and items about Vischer.

Collection is arranged into 6 series. The first series contains original sketches and prints of Vischer's works. The second series contains a variety of miscellanea including photographs, handwritten letters, and ephemera. The third series contains materials that were found laid in front and back of one of printed volumes. These materials are mostly manuscripts, prints and photographs with some broadsides. Two scrapbooks inscribed by Vischer to William H. Hilton comprise the fourth series. The fifth series contains various plates, mostly from "Vischer's Pictorial of California". However, there are a few plates that could not be found in any of Vischer's books. The last series, series 6, contains printed materials. Here is where the four published portfolios, additional variations of those portfolios and other printed matter written about Vischer can be found.

Dates

  • 1804-1933
  • Majority of material found within 1860 - 1878

Creator

Language

Languages represented in the collection: English, Spanish and German

Access

This collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to reproduce or to publish must be submitted in writing to Special Collections.

Biography/Administrative History

Edward Vischer (1809–1878) as a young man of nineteen emigrated from Germany to Mexico where he was associated with the commercial house of Heinrich Virmond. In the employ of Virmond, or other German-Latin American companies, he acted as supercargo on many trading voyages to west-coast ports of the Americas and to the Orient.

In 1842, he became interested in California and agreed to travel there for Virmond. It was in this way that Vischer first came to know the region, anchoring at Monterey, taking an excursion northwest to the port of Yerba Buena, and visiting Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. On this visit he fell in love with California. He gladly returned to San Francisco where he was active in currency exchange operations, acted as agent for German-Mexican firms, as marine forwarding agent, as real estate agent, and as a mortgage banker.

At the age of fifty, Vischer became intensely interested in sketching and painting. He is best known for his pencil sketches of California landscapes throughout the 1860s and 1870s. He sketched a wide variety of scenes and objects, but most commonly the California missions, trees, mountains, and rural scenes. Of special interest are his drawings of the ruins of the missions, the Washoe mining region, horses and wagons, including the Pony Express, and even camels which were part of a short lived military experiment to import them into California.

He combined with these interests a skill in photography. It was his practice to make rapid sketches on the spot of scenes which interested him, the big trees, the ruins of Missions, or mining operations, and later to work up these sketches in water color, pencil, pen or crayon. Subsequently he reproduced his drawing, first by lithography and later by photography. Beginning with the conventional method of lithography, Vischer became frustrated with the lack of detail and print quality, the expenses involved, and, eventually, the breaking of a stone mid production. At this point, Vischer began exploring the use of photography to reproduce his artwork. After briefly experimenting with the medium himself, Vischer soon employed George H. Johnson, a professional photographer, to photograph his artwork for his publications. These albumen prints of his artwork were used to create bound publications that were primarily sold through subscriptions.

Extent

2.58 Linear Feet (2 document boxes and 25 items of printed materials)

Abstract

Includes four published portfolios, The Mammoth Tree Grove (1862), The Washoe Mining Region (1862), Pictorial of California Landscape (1870), and Missions of Upper California (1872), along with an important file of original Vischer drawings and paintings; two scrapbooks of California scenes; numerous volumes of California scenes; and items about Vischer. Many items from this collection have been digitized and can be found in the "Edward Vischer Drawings, Photographs and Other Material" collection in the Claremont Colleges Digital Library (CCDL) - http://ccdl.libraries.claremont.edu/col/vdp.

Series Arrangement

The collection is arranged into 6 series:

  • Series 1: Sketches and prints
  • Subseries 1: Original sketches
  • Subseries 2: Prints
  • Series 2: Miscellanea
  • Series 3: Materials found laid in front and back of "Missions of Upper California"
  • Series 4: Scrapbooks inscribed by Vischer to Wm. H. Hilton
  • Series 5: Plates
  • Series 6: Printed materials
  • Physical Location

    Please consult repository.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired from Mrs. Frederick Hellman, 1960.

    Accruals

    No additions to the collection are anticipated.

    Alternative Forms of Material Available

    Digital collection available via the Claremont Colleges Digital Library (CCDL): Edward Vischer Drawings, Photographs and Other Material - http://ccdl.libraries.claremont.edu/col/vdp/.

    Processing Information

    Arranged and processed by Special Collections staff.

    Creator

    Title
    Guide to the Edward Vischer papers
    Status
    Completed
    Author
    Russell Michalak, 2008; revised by Lisa L. Crane, 2011
    Date
    2011
    Description rules
    Describing Archives: A Content Standard
    Language of description
    English
    Script of description
    Code for undetermined script
    Language of description note
    Finding aid written in English.

    Repository Details

    Part of the 01 - Special Collections, Honnold/Mudd Library Repository

    Contact:
    800 North Dartmouth Ave
    Claremont CA 91711 United States