Ticknor, Payot, Upham--Books from Boston to San Francisco

This was a tough one to title because of the two companies indicated on the 1887 postal cover: Ticknor and Company of Boston, Publishers, and Payot, Upham & Co. of San Francisco, Booksellers. Each was important to the book trades on their respective coasts, each was important to the other, and each could have been featured in a separate post.

I've written previously about Ticknor and its various business incarnations through the 19th century and beyond, so more attention will be given here to Payot, Upham & Company. However, for anyone interested in Ticknor history, here's a similar cover I wrote about last year, in which some company history is outlined. The covers are quite similar with minor  differences in the Ticknor logos.

Until 1870, the San Francisco bookselling firm, Henry Payot & Co. dealt primarily in foreign language books from European countries, particularly France. That is undoubtedly owed to the fact that founder Henry Payot was born to French parents.

Born in 1838 in South Carolina, Payot came to California at age 13 with his parents during the Gold Rush days. He later worked for lithographers Quirot & Company before starting Henry Payot & Co. and focusing on bookselling and publishing. His company would grow and change noticeably for the better when a young publishing agent, Isaac Upham, would join the firm. 

As Payot's business focused on books from around the world, primarily Europe, that interest ultimately led to several trips abroad, including Japan, where he lectured in 1907. He had lectured before on Egypt, as reported in the San Jose News in 1901, perhaps from his own travel there. He died in 1921.

Isaac Upham had been in California since 1860, a transcontinental-transplant from Maine. He taught and served as superintendent for Butte County and Yuba County schools before landing in San Francisco as an agent for the Cincinnati publisher, Wilson, Hinkle & Co.

Just a year later, Upham was in a position to buy a half-interest in Henry Payot's company. His business expertise, particularly with the publishing company, seems to have paid quick dividends. Within five years, the firm of Payot, Upham & Co. began dealing in English language books as well as selling stationery, increased their business significantly, and relocated its headquarters in San Francisco from 622 Washington Street to 204 Sansome Street.

The result of these business decisions, with Upham's guidance, positioned Payot, Upham & Co., as one of the largest of wholesale and importing stationery and bookselling firms on the entire Pacific coast.

Upham's business acumen extended to other areas, including banking. His book and stationery business continued to prosper and before the first decade was done in the new century, Payot, Upham & Co. was succeeded by The Isaac Upham Company, incorporating in 1909 (The Bookseller, newsdealer, and stationer, Vol. 30, 1909).

Unfortunately, Upham wouldn't live much longer to see the company prosper under its new name. In July of 1909, he was riding his bicycle in San Jose and was killed in a collision with an automobile.

The newspaper article shown at the left is from the San Francisco Call, July 22, 1909, and reports on the settlement of Upham's estate and refers to his death.

From his early horse and carriage days on the West coast during the Civil War era, the circumstances of his demise could not have been foretold without a suspension of disbelief in extreme fantasy. Such were the times the span of his years traversed.


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