Historic Images of Nevada Destroyed in 1906 San Francisco Earthquake Found, E. H. Mitchell Post Card

    (Updated  October  26, 2020)

A series of 1905 photographs of Nevada,  (Goldfield,  Tonopah,  Carson City,  Virginia City, and Reno,) were sent to San Francisco in January of 1906 to be turned into post cards.

    Out of the several dozen images, several were selected and turn into psot cards and printed in March 1906.

    Days after the post cards were printed and shipped to Nevada, the April 1906 earthquake destroyed much of San Francisco.

   Among the destruction, the printing plant of Edward H. Mitchell.   Also destroyed his offices and files, and all of the photographs and negatives of Nevada were destroyed.

    Now,  new information has been uncovered revealing which images of Nevada were printed the days before the earthquake.

    This article includes details as to which images were saved and which were lost.  

  As Nevada’s the Comstock silver bonanza of Nevada of the 1860’s faded         into history, prospectors were combing the state for the next mother lode.

  The miners struck gold on the southwest edge of Nevada in 1901.

 In the beginning, the prospector’s tents created a freckled face  look to the desert.

   Soon the prospectors began to cluster and, by 1904 mining camps like Tonopah and Goldfield were boomtowns on the cusp of becoming cities.  And, they would.

    Less than thirty miles apart the two towns would become the largest center of population in the state.

    The rush to central Nevada was on.  Railroads were being built from the north and south.

   Among the earliest passengers on those trains were post card salesmen.

   From printers to wholesalers, post card producers were also quick to cash in the boom, including San Francisco based printer, Edward H. Mitchell

   In late December of 1905, one of the largest post cards producers on the west coast, Edward H. Mitchell sent Harvey Lear Christiance, who he described as his “expert photographer” to Nevada.[i]

   Until this point, with the exception of two post cards from the extreme southern tip of the state, Mitchell, based in San Francisco, had all but ignored Nevada.

   The two cards helped mark the opening of the new railroad, “The Salt Lake Route,” through Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, and the new town of Las Vegas.

    The post cards are number twenty, “Scene in the Meadow Valley, Wash, Nevada, Salt Lake Route,” and 22 “Caliente, Nevada, Salt Lake, Route.”

    The photographs for the cards were taken by the already famous pioneer photographer, Charles R. Savage of Utah.  Both were on sale by the time Mitchell sent his staffer to Nevada.

     Christiance, according to Mitchell’s announcement, was on his way “to visit all the new mining camps of Nevada, in order to get choice photographs of mining scenes throughout that country.”[ii]

     Hopping on the newly named “Tonopah Express” train in San Francisco, Christiance would arrive in that town 24 hours later.

     Another train would take him the next twenty-six miles into Goldfield and a meeting with Per Edward Larson.   Larson was Goldfield’s leading photographer and post card merchant.

   In addition to Larson, several other photographers were already hard at work producing and selling their own photographs and post cards.

     Christiance likely met with two other pioneer photographers, H.T. Shaw and Emory Willard Smith.  Both were based in Tonopah.  The work of each man shows up in the 800 series printed before the earthquake.

      After a couple of weeks reviewing existing photographs and taking orders the representative of Mitchell headed home.

     It is likely on his way back to San Francisco Christiance stopped along the way picking up photographs of Carson City, Virginia City, Reno and one Native American real photo post card that would cause Mitchell a few problems.

    A Lake Tahoe image, mislabeled as being in California, is also included in the 800 Nevada series.

     At the end of January 1906, the public was informed Christiance was back in San Francisco “with about 150 splendid mining scenes, which will be reproduced in colors on fancy post cards.” [iii]

    At the time Mitchell also announced he was “booking advance orders for these cards.” [iv]

   A story in the “American Stationer” magazine detailed Mitchell’s operation in early 1906, saying he “does a very extensive fancy post-card trade, having nearly a thousand Pacific Coast subjects alone on fancy postals. Since the first of the year he has added a full floor to his establishment making an increase of half his previous floor space.” [v]

    At the same time, Mitchell reported he had added a “department” to “turn out tinsel postal cards.”   He believed “the fad will last long enough to warrant this new outlay in machinery.” [vi]

     Mitchell was then located at 144 Union Square Avenue in San Francisco.

     Of the One-Hundred-and-fifty photographs Christiance brought back from Nevada, 35 were selected to be produced as post cards.   More than half were from Tonopah and Goldfield.

    Tens of thousands of the Nevada post cards were printed in February of 1905.

    With all his increased business by March 3, 1905, Mitchell was reported to be running “two forces at work, running the machinery night and day.”

    Based on his comments at the end of the first quarter of 1906, no less than five-thousands of each of the 35 Nevada post cards were produced.

     On March 24, 1906, Mitchell was quoted as saying, “We anticipate an unusually good year.  Our business has been nothing short of phenomenal.”   He added, we “have refused all orders for post cards for less than five thousand of one kind in color against one thousand last year.” [vii]

    Mid-March at least 175,000 post cards in the 800 series were headed to Nevada.

    In the coming months of April and May 1906, Mitchell said “we have been running 10,000 of a subject and will soon start to run 20,000 of a subject.” [viii]

    As far as the future of post cards, in the March 24 statement, Mitchell said, “the color post card has come to stay, and is not a mere fad. The history of the pictorial card shows this plainly. It will eventually take the place of the ordinary government postal.”[ix]

     A few weeks later, on Wednesday, April 18, 1906, with Mitchell’s press working as fast as they could, the historic earthquake and fire hit San Francisco.

      In his own words, Mitchell said “Our entire plant was destroyed in the terrible catastrophe that recently befell our city.” [x]

      With his reference to the “completeness of the devastation” of his business and the city, Mitchell said “most firms, including ourselves, have saved their books and our first necessities will be ready money to enable us to rebuild our business individually, and our beloved city collectively.  We trust that you will not consider it amiss on our part to suggest that the best contribution to our needs would be the prompt remittance of all amounts due.” [xi]

    Christiance was quickly sent to New York and soon orders were placed for new printing equipment.  By late May 1906, Mitchell issued a public statement saying “a complete outfit of new and modern machinery” was on its way. [xii]

    Mitchell added, “By the time it arrives we shall have new buildings constructed on our own ground, and built to suit the particular requirements of our particular line of work.” [xiii]

     An optimistic Mitchell would actually start producing post cards in a temporary structure ten weeks after the earthquake.

     It is likely most, if not all the 150 Nevada photographs Christiance purchased, took himself, or “borrowed,”  were destroyed on April 18.

     Mitchell acknowledged as much saying “we shall sincerely appreciate the cooperation of our customers in renewing our line of post cards.”  But, in order to do that, he asked customers to “send us sample sets of the subjects we have published of their cities and vicinities.” [xiv]

     One of the pre-quake 800 series of Nevada views that Mitchell would not get an order for   was 847 “PIUTE INDIAN PAPOOSES, NEVADA.”

      The photograph used for the post card was “borrowed” from Reno photographer Fred P. Dann.

    Dann a well-known commercial photographer in Reno had already issued his own real photo post card of the two Indian children when Mitchell’s hit the Reno market.

   Dunn went public with his story two weeks after the earthquake; “the papoose picture is the best seller I have.”  He wanted Mitchell to pull all the post cards with his photograph and “to make restitution.” [xv]

    It is not known what legal action, if any Dunn took or if Mitchell paid him anything for the use of his photograph.  But like most of the 800 series, Mitchell did not re-issue 847, “Piute Indian Papooses, Nevada.”

    A year later, after interviewing Mitchell, the public was told “the firm’s presses were started July 1, a trifle over two months after the fire.  They have been run day and night since, with the results that out of 1,000 subjects carried in colored post cards before, about 700 have been republished.”[xvi]

   Nevada views accounted for only six of the 700 number.  The only Nevada images printed at that point, with the new UN3 backs, were from Larson in Goldfield.  He ordered six cards from the 800 series.   While five of the cards are of the same topic, and same 800 number, Larson sent new photographs for all but one.

    Over the next decade, as the lights faded on Tonopah and Goldfield would focus his attention on Reno.

   When the U.S. Government change the rules to allow messages to be on the back of the card several of the 800 series starting in 1907 would wind up with Mitchell’s T1 and or T2 backs.

    Under his own brand, Mitchell also published a series of sepia-colored post cards of Reno.  The same set, using the same numbers were also printed by Mitchell for the California Sales Company.

    A third sepia set of Reno cards would be printed by Mitchell for the Rand Brothers of Oakland, California. This series focused on the educational institution in Reno, from elementary schools to the University.

    Mitchell would also create the Reno 5000 series in 1910.

    There are twenty-nine known margin less “full bleed” post cards in the 5000 Reno series.    There likely a 30th, an introductory card for the series, but not numbered.

      Of the twenty-nine cards, two, 5028 and 5032, used the same photograph to represent day and a night scenes.

     The image of two other cards in the series was previously issued by Mitchell.    5030 titled “Group of Piute Indian Women, Reno, Nevada” is also seen on Mitchell card number 2906.  And the image on 5031 titled “Piute Papooses, Reno, and Nevada.” is also seen on card 2907.

    It appears the Reno 5000 series starts with number 5002, however, there is a Mitchell card with the same DH1 back as the others in the series, titled “Greeting from Reno Nevada.”

    The hand-drawn image on the post card, including the text, is of a bridge across a river, likely to represent the Truckee River and the Virginia Street Bridge.

     On the lower right side is a baby holding a document titled “DECREE.”

     The full text, “Greetings from Reno Nevada The Land of the decree and The home of the free.”

     The artwork is signed, in the lower right corner “Nevada Wilson,” a well-known artist who was born in Tuscarora, Nevada.

   Wilson taught art in Reno at the time the card went into production.   Not long after, Wilson moved to California where she spent most of her career teaching and painting flowers and desert scenes.

     There are twenty-three other Mitchell post cards with Nevada views scattered through Mitchell’s restart of his numbering system in the divided back era.   The majority of images in this group from card number 75 to card number 3300 are of Reno and Carson City.

   Of the estimated 193 Nevada views Mitchell printed in his lifetime, his initial move into Nevada in 1905 stands out as the best for many reasons; from the quality of the printing to the rarity of the views.

    Despite turning the dirt brown of the desert into lush green grass, and the cloudless turquoise-colored skies, the visual detail in the post cards printed in early 1906 has more depth creating a natural feel to the image.

     It is clear, from comparing the cards before and after the quake, Mitchell was using different printing presses.

    It is possible the Mitchell team was still learning how to maximize the new presses for those early runs with the UN3 backs.

   A second reason the initial 800’s stand out is the images themselves.  The pre-quake Nevada views, freeze a time in the late 1905 life of Goldfield and Tonopah, with views that are not released elsewhere.

Conclusions, Calculations, and Comparisons

  • Two key points emerged from the review of the 800 series of Mitchell post cards of Nevada.
    • All thirty-five post cards with Nevada images and UN1a backs were printed shortly before the April 1906 earthquake and fire that hit San Francisco.
    • The 800 series of Nevada views that were reissued with T2 backs were printed before those with T1 backs.
      • This conclusion is based in part on post marks I’ve seen during the past several years.
        • The earliest postmark seen of a T1 Nevada is May 16, 1908,
        • The earliest postmark seen of a T2 Nevada is April 17, 1907
      • The second reason to move T2 to the head of the list is title transition. As a general rule, the undivided backs in the Nevada series have longer titles, while the T1 titles with the same image are much shorter.  T2 titles are closer to the undivided back titles than the divided back titles. For example
        • UN1 – title for 812. Two lines, “THE HOUSE THAT MADE TONOPAH FAMOUS.”  “BUILT OF 10,000 BEER BOTTLES, TONOPAH, NEVADA.”
        • T2 title for 812 “BOTTLE HOUSE BUILT OF 10,000 BEER BOTTLES, TONOPAH, NEVADA.”
        • T1 title for 812 “THE BOTTLE HOUSE, TONOPAH, NEVADA.”
  •  When Mitchell switched to the T-1 backs with the added line “Printed in the United States,” he also added U.S. flags to the T2’s, 813 the Can House, and 845 the State Capitol.
  • Other facts from the 800 Nevada series.
    • Only one of the original 35 photographs used in the first printing of the 800 series was reprinted after the quake with an undivided back. The card is 810 Combination Mine has a UN3 back.
    • Only five of the original 35 Nevada post cards in the original 800 series would be reissued with the original photograph in some form by Mitchell.
      • One with a UN3 divided back-810.
      • Four were reissued with divided backs. Those cards are 813, 815, 816, and 849.
    • Only six of the 35 cards with numbers from the 800 series were produced after the quake with UN3 backs.
      • Those six are all from the Goldfield/Larson series.
      • Of the six, 5 of the numbers were reused but with different photographs.
        • And four of the 5 contained the same subject matter but with a different photograph.
          • Same topic, different photograph.
            • 806
            • 807
            • 809
            • 811
          • 808 different image and a different topic.
            • 808 went from a postcard titled “Florence Mine, Goldfield, Nevada” to “Mohawk Mines, Goldfield, Nevada.” A completely different mine.
            • Later Mitchell would print divided back versions of 808 with the Mohawk Mine image used for the UN3 version.
          • The 6th Goldfield post card reissued used the same photograph. With a UN3 back, the image for 810 was significantly retouched.
        • Not counting any comic cards, and only counting views the total number of Mitchell views of Nevada stands at 193. However, this number can be refined even more to establish the total number of different views as Mitchell reused images, and printed the same images for different outlets.  The number of different
          • 35 in the 800 Nevada series,
          • 6 new images added to the 800 Nevada series.
          • 2 C.R. Savage,
          • 30 in the 5000 Reno series,
          • 47 Reno –sepia, and
          • 73 additional views of Nevada with divided backs.


What follows is the most recent set of notes

On Nevada post cards in the Mitchell 800 series; 804 to 849.

     For this section, the term face will mean the image side, and the back will be the address and or message side.

      Titles will appear as they are on the post cards, in most cases in all upper case.  In addition depending on the back type, the period at the end of the title will reflect what is on the card.

      Unless noted, all post cards listed were printed in color.


Notes on 804


Photographer-not confirmed, likely Larson

      804 UN1-a, as described by the title is a view of the main street of Goldfield.

      It is a view of Columbia Street, a wide dirt road in the fall of 1905, with the Columbia Mountains in the background.

      A Mitchell artist added a United States flag and pole to the top of an unidentified two-story building on the left side of the postcard.

      Other photographs show the flag actually flying from the Hotel Esmeralda, however, only the bottom part of the flag pole on the roof of the Hotel Esmeralda is seen.

       804 “MAIN STREET, GOLDFIELD, NEVADA” is one of the cards in the 800 series not reproduced following the earthquake either with an undivided back or a divided back.

                                                                   Notes on 805


Photographer – Larson.[xvii]

     Mitchell 805, with UN1a back is titled “FIRE COMPANY, GOLDFIELD, NEVADA.”         It is an image of the Goldfield Volunteer Fire Department’s hose and ladder cart.

    The photograph of the horses and cart and two firemen was taken in front of the State Bank and Trust Company building.

     The “Fire Company” post card was not reproduced after the earthquake, either with an undivided back or a divided back.

    No other Nevada image was printed using the number 805.


Photographer– not confirmed, likely Larson

         The earliest version, 806 UN1-a,  titled “NIXON BLOCK, GOLDFIELD, NEVADA,” is an image of the three-story stone building that opened for business in September of 1905.

     It was built by U.S. Senator George S. Nixon and Nevada banker George Wingfield.

     The photograph for this version was taken shortly after the building opened.

     The first version shows the entire building with an estimated twenty men standing around or walking towards the building.

     The second version, 806 UN3, is titled “NIXON BLOCK AND MINING AND STOCK EXCHANGE, GOLDFIELD, and NEVADA”.

     With the change in the title came a change in the photograph used for 806.   The UN3 version shows third quarters of the building and a crowd of about ninety men and women around the building.

      In addition, a man is visible sitting on the outside window ledge of the third floor, and a woman is looking out of the open window is seen next to him.

     A telephone pole is also seen on the right side of the building.

      At this point it is not known who took the photograph for the first issue of 806 UN1-a, however, the photograph used in the UN3 card was taken by Larson.

     Larson used the same photograph for his own undivided back black and white post card.  No printer is listed on the card with the title ‘GOLDFIELD MINING & STOCK EXCHANGE” The Larson negative number of 105 is found on the lower right corner of the card.

     Based on Larson’s photograph several changes were made to the image before the Mitchell card was sent to the printer.

     Among the changes, a telephone pole on the left side of the post card covering part of the “Del Monte” signed was removed from the Mitchell card.

Notes on 807    


Photographer – Larson

     Taken from a nearby mountain this view shows Goldfield with its main street, buildings and tents spread out over a green colored desert, and Columbia mountain in the background.

    Before ordering post cards from Mitchell in late 1905, Larson had already started using the New York based American News Company to print cards for him from in Germany.

    Larson ordered more than a dozen of both color and black and white post cards from the A. N.C.

     Included in this group of undivided back cards are both color and black and white versions of the same photograph Larson sent off to Mitchell.

   The color card, number a 6331, is titled, “Bird’s Eye View.  Goldfield, Nev.”   The black and white card, number A 1405, is titled “Birds-Eye view.  Goldfield, Nev.”

   The Mitchell artist changed the desert landscape in and around the town from brown to a lawn green.

     When he made his post-quake order, Larson sent along a new photograph similar to the first.

      A more populous Goldfield is seen in the photograph, used for the UN3.  The mountain is now centered in the background of the post card.   Green once again is the dominant color of the ground cover.

   The same image, with the same colors, with the same title was issued with a type T2, divided back.


Notes on 808


Photographer – Unconfirmed, likely Larson

     There are two undivided back Mitchell 808 Nevada post cards with different subjects.

     The earliest photograph used for 808 UN1a is titled “FLORENCE MINE, GOLDFIELD, and NEVADA.”

    The photograph for 808 UN1a was taken by Larson.   Larson’s negative number is 414.[xviii]

      In traditional Larson style, there are twenty-three people scattered though-out the photograph.    This includes seven men, 4 women, and one child standing in front of dozens of sacks of gold ore.

      The photograph used for UN1a, is the left half of a two-panel photographic panorama of the Florence mine.[xix]  The right side was never released as a post card.

     Notes from an article written by Stewart Luce, “The Florence Mine King of the Hill.” [xx]

     Charlie Taylor arrived in what is now Goldfield, Nevada in 1902.  He staked a claim on what he called the Florence.  A year later Goldfield became an official mining district on October 20, 1903.  Over the next year thousands of mining claims had been in the area and Goldfield by 1905 was moving from a boom camp to a boomtown.

     Stewart Luce writes, “People all wanted to buy shares in the most valuable mines. The Combination, Florence, Jumbo, Red Top, January and Mohawk were names on everyone’s lips.”   [xxi]

   Tom Lockhart, at the time, was working a claim in Tonopah.  Successful he sold it and moved to Goldfield where he met Taylor.   Eventually, Lockhart and his partner gained control of the Florence and would pull millions from the mine.

   Today, the claim, having been passed down and worked by family and friends is controlled by Jon Auric.  While preserving the history of all of Goldfield and surround areas, Auric, Luce writes, would like to see “the Florence become a national treasure.” [xxii]

  For Luce’s complete story go to  www.goldfieldhistoricalsociety.com/index.html also see Jon Auric’s stories and photographs of the Florence mine and nearby sites and treasures at https://plus.google.com/106491686581128396867

      The second 808 post card, with a UN3 back, is a completely different view and is titled “MOHAWK MINES, GOLDFIELD, NEVADA”.

     Across the center of this image are eight railroad cars.  Seven of the cars are connected, the 8th is off on a spur on the left side of the postcard.

    The gold discovered in the Mohawk Mine generated much of the public excitement and boom in the area in 1906.

    The two 808 T-1’s, color, and black and white feature the same image as 808 UN3 except for the hills, and the rail car on the left side of the photograph is cropped out.

    The clouds seen in the UN3 version are gone in both T-1 reissues.

      In 1907, the D.C. Health & Company used an 808 UN3 “MOHAWK MINES, GOLDFIELD, NEVADA” post card as an advertising sales tool.

      The company, a Massachusetts based text book publishing house, printed on the back of the cards, “we are pleased to announce that the State of Nevada has just adopted the following text-books for exclusive use for the next four years.”  The company message includes the names of several elementary school books.

     The post card was mailed from Berkeley, California on July 2, 1907.

   The Larson photograph was also used for a Dennison postcard number 6, titled

    The photograph used in UN3 was also used for a ZIM printed black and white post card, A921D10, titled “Mohawk Mines, Goldfield, and Nev.”

Notes on 809


Photographer – Larson

    Two photographs, taken within minutes of each other, were used to produce different undivided back versions of Mitchell’s 809 “RED TOP MINE, GOLDFIELD, NEVADA.” post card.

    The earliest postcard shows twelve men, including one man standing on top of several hundred sacks of ore holding his hat aloft.

    The second photograph used for the post-quake UN3 version has the same twelve men in their same positions, but the man that was standing on the bags of ore, right center, is now laying on the ore sacks holding his hat.  This was the 488th photograph that Larson put in his log book.

     Standing in UN1a the man casts a shadow on the miner to the left.  In the sitting version, UN3, the man on the left is now in the sunshine.

    The second major change is the color of the ore sacks.   In the UN1a version, the sacks are a natural light brown, while in the post-quake version the Mitchell artist colored the sacks a bright pink.

“Stand-Up guy” or “Laying down on the Job” which one was the most popular?

    Which photograph was taken first, standing up or laying down?  Did Larson tell the miner to stand up, or lay down?

    The Mitchell card is the only known postcard that shows the miner standing up, while the photograph showing the miner lying down is found on several post cards.

    Whether Larson’s master negative was lost in the San Francisco quake, or the photographer liked the laying down on the job version better, it wound up on several post cards.

     Larson used it as part of his own Nevada post card series, printed by the Denver Engraving Company, titled “Red Top Mine, Goldfield Nev. Larson Photo No. 488.”

    He also used the ‘laydown’ image when he ordered a series of thirty views of Goldfield from the Newman Post Card Company of Los Angeles.   The cards, with divided backs, were printed in Germany and went on sale in the fall of 1907.  This view, titled “Red top mine, Goldfield, Nev.” is number 134/13.

   Also noted, a post-quake card with a UN3 back was produced with glitter on the mine frame, building and sacks of ore.


Notes on 810


Photographer – unconfirmed, likely Larson

     The same image and title was used in both undivided back versions of 810 “COMBINATION MINE, GOLDFIELD, NEVADA.”

     The biggest changes involve colors.  The ground in the UN1a version is colored green, while in the second undivided version, the ground is a more natural desert brown.

    The sides of the mine operation buildings in the UN1 have a pink tone, while in the??Version, the buildings are a more realistic light metal grey color.

      The roofs of the buildings in UN1a are a pale light brown, whole the roofs in the?? Version is more of a red brown color.

     There are no clouds in the UN1a original version.  In the second type back, a series of clouds are visible across the horizon.

Notes on 811


Photographer – unconfirmed, likely Larson

      This vertical image on the first 811, with the UN1a back, shows a deep green palm with green scrub brush covering the desert floor.

      A different photograph was used when 811, with a UN3 back, was printed after the quake.

     The title also changed in the UN3 version; “A NATIVE OF THE AMERICAN DESERT,-THE JOSHUA PALM”.  Again when printing the UN3’s the periods were left off at the end of the title.

         The Joshua Palm in 811 UN1a has a narrow trunk base, while the Palm seen in the photograph used for the UN3, has a trunk three times the size of the palm in UN1a.

       It is likely Larson took the photograph for the UN1a version.  However, it is confirmed Larson took the photograph for the UN3 version.

     He first used this photograph when he ordered post cards from the American News Company in New York.

     The American News Company “Poly Chrome” card, number 6344, was printed in Germany.

      Interestingly the post card, titled “The Yucca Palm on American Desert,” is of a winter scene with the tree and the ground covered with snow.

      All the later versions printed by Mitchell, including the UN3, T2, and DV3, backs, the white snow is converted to desert brown sand, and the snow on the tree is made to look like the brown sand behind.

      Larson used to produce several different cards including his own leather version titled, “THE YUCCA PALM ON THE AMERICAN DESERT.  P.E. LARSON PHOTO, GOLDFIELD, NEVADA.”

     Larson also used the photograph used in 811 UN3 on the series of undivided back cards he had printed by the Denver Engraving Company.

    On this card the title is “THE YUCCA PALM ON AMERICAN DESERT” with the credit line “LARSON PHO. GOLDFIELD, NEV. NO. 534”

    Again, on all but the original card “Published by the American News Company” the snow has been covered to light brown sand.

A Mitchell Joshua Palm, or a Larson Yucca Palm?

     Joshua or not?  All yuccas are not Joshua trees, but I suspect that all Joshua trees are yuccas.

     With Goldfield on the northern edge of the Mojave, the ‘tree’ in question could be a Yucca schidigera, known as the Mojave yucca.

    Will leave it to desert botanists to determine what tree is in Larson’s photograph.

Notes on 812



Photographer – unknown, possibly E. W. Smith

    Several post cards were produced in the early days of Tonopah featuring the bottle house built in 1903 by William F. Peck.

    The initial 812 Mitchell UN1a post card has a has a two line title;



    The original bottle house had two windows, facing downtown Tonopah, one on each side of the single front door.

    When it was built, green bottles were used for the front and side facing town Brown bottles were used for the back and left side of the building.

   The house no longer exists, it was dismantled for its bottles in the mid 1960’s.

    The photograph for the first printing of 812 was taken in late 1905.  It shows the home two years after the Peck family left.

     In mid-1905 the new owners added to the home by extending the back of the one-story structure.

     The first 812 shows the building with a second front door, and a sliding security metal grill work between the doors.

    The second door likely indicates two separate living quarters.

    In addition each side of the building now has a smoke exhaust pipe extending from the roof.  The pipe on the right side is short compared to the pipe on the right.

     The UN1a is the only undivided back of the Tonopah bottle house produced by Mitchell, however both T1 and T2 were printed.

    The 812 is a possible example where the T2 was produced before the T1.  The title to the T2, “BOTTLE HOUSE, BUILT OF 10,000 BEER BOTTLES, TONOPAH NEVADA.” is closer to the first title than the T1 title “THE BOTTLE HOUSE, TONOPAH, NEVADA.”

   Both the T1 and T2 post cards use a different photograph then used for 812 UNa1.

   The T1 and T2 versions also shows two dogs on the left side of the house.

  The use of dogs in the photograph was an informal trademark of long time Tonopah photographer E. W. Smith.

    The new photograph of the building also reveals the security gate between the two doors is gone and a tall smoke stack has been added on the right side of the roof.

    The T1 back was also used for both a color and black and white version of 812.  Only a color version of with a T2 back has been seen.

      The same photograph used in, back type – was also used on a Dennison News Company post card titled, “1. Bottle House, Tonopah, Nevada. Built of 10,000 Beer Bottles.”

     An earlier version of the bottle house, showing what it looked like in 1903 is found on a Chicago, Illinois based H.G. Zimmerman and Company post card number A921B10.

     This black and white card also shows Peck’s two children, Wesley, three and Mary seven in front of the building.

    However, the ZIM card title moves the building to another mining camp; “House made of 10,000 Beer Bottles, Goldfield, and Nev.”

Notes 8 on 813


Photographer – H. T. Shaw

     The house of cans, like the bottle house, and the barrel house are three of Tonopah’s popular historic post cards.

     The name of the person who built the house has to this point been lost.   And, while it is hoped the man standing in front of the home in all the post cards is likely the builder, which too has not been confirmed.

     The photograph used for the post cards was taken by Tonopah photographer Herbert T. Shaw who operated the Florentine Art Studio in the very early days of Tonopah.

      Shaw, in addition to his work as a photographer, was the President of the Tonopah branch of Industrial Workers of the World union.

     Whether Shaw saw this pre 1906 can house as an interesting image, or used it to show the living conditions of miners, the photograph was one of his best sellers.

      Shaw produced and sold his own real photo post card using the same photograph he sold to Mitchell.

     The photograph was also used for the Newman Post Card Company’s postcard 16 in the A.J. series.  That post card is titled “The Can House, Tonopah, Nev.”  It also has a number on the face, 62278.

   Mitchell printed the image over the years in a variety of different colors and backs, starting with 813 UN1a “THE CAN HOUSE (BUILT OF COAL OIL CANS), TONOPAH, NEVADA.”

      The first Mitchell printing is different than the original photograph taken by Shaw.

      A small U.S. flag is seen above the door in the Shaw photograph.  In the UN1a, the flag holder is there, but the flag is gone.

      813 also appears with T1 and T2 backs, with significant changes to the image.

      The two most notable changes between the UN1a and the divided are:

      The parentheses are dropped from the title in the divided back prints.

The U.S. flag reappears in the divided back versions. The flag in the T1 has more detail and color than the T2.

       A wooden pole on the left side of the divided back and the T2, is gone in the T1.

       Color changes include the panes in the windows on the front and side of the house go from grey UN1a to green in the divided backs.

      The Mitchell artists paid more attention to the man’s clothing in the between the UN1a and the T2.  And, even more color is added to the clothing in the T1 version.   In the earliest version, the man is dressed in black, in the later versions his shirt and pants change to brown, while the jacket stays black.

     Clouds appear and disappear.  No clouds in UN1a, but clouds in T2, and not clouds in the T1 colored or black and white prints.

Notes on 814


Photographer – unconfirmed, likely E. W. Smith

       The first Mitchell 814, UN1a is titled “THE BARREL HOUSE, TONOPAH, NEVADA.”

      The home was built, according to stories passed down from the early days of Tonopah by a person identified only as “Mr. Dyke.”

     The short version of the story is as follows; Mr. Dyke arrived in 1901 when Tonopah was not much more than a camp.   And as was true in most mining camps two of the most popular liquids were whiskey and coffee.   Not saw when Lottie May set up a boarding house and café.  She served tea as well as coffee.  But when a snow storm hit Lottie ran out of pre-ground coffee and could only serve tea.

    The story goes that Dyke was already fed up with communal living and the no coffee on the menu pushed him too far.  He told everybody he was going to build his own place.   In the tent camp, and Dyke without a tent, he was laughed out of Lottie’s place.   With no traditional building material around, and short on money, Dyke came up with the idea of building a home out of the many wooden barrels around town.

   He found a spot next to a ledge on the northern end of Tonopah and began filling his barrels with dirt stacking one on top of another.  Adding when needed the sides of wooden shipping crates, Dyke had his own home.

     At least that is how the story is reported in several creditable publications.[xxiii]

     The date when the home disappeared is not known.

     Judging from the barrels it was not too long after the divided back photograph was taken.

     The UN1at version shows the barrel house surrounded by green grass with small patches of snow.  The slats on the barrels are just starting to separate.

      When the divided back version of 814 was produced a different photograph was used.

       A dog is seen in the second version and the barrels behind the animal are clearly showing signs of stress.

      The dog, is “Shep,” and was owned by Tonopah photographer E. W. Smith.   For perspective or as a trademark the Border collie is found in many of Smith’s images.

      “Shep” in this case is posed in front of the flattened tin cans used for the front door.  While it appears the barrels are coming apart something of value must be inside, as a lock appears on the door.  None is seen in the earliest version.

        There are several other major differences the divided back cards.

        While the photograph was taken from the same angle as the first, but a much tighter image of the cabin, blocking out Mt. Oddie in the background.  The second photograph, while losing the smoke stack at the front of the building, shows a more naturally colored dirt and rock environment around the home.

        The image on the undivided back shows a smoke stack at the front of the building.

The smoke stack is gone in the second version.

         In addition to the initial color version, and the two divided back cards, Mitchell also produced a black and white card of the barrel house.

      Once again, a Zimmerman printed post card moves a Tonopah structure. The 1907 black and white post card printed by ZIM moved the barrel house Tonopah to Goldfield, with the title “House made of Barrels, Goldfield, Nev.”

Notes on 815


Photographer – unknown

 Until 1905 the Nye County Court house was located in Belmont, Nevada.   Following a major lobbying effort by the citizens of Tonopah, in February of 1905 the Governor of Nevada, John Sparks, signed into law the transfer of the county government to Tonopah.

   Money was raised, a site on Gold Hill was picked and work began. The largest stone building at the time, the courthouse was finished in the fall of 1905.

    As seen in postcard, the two-story structure, with a pyramid looking roof with a dome in the middle and a flag pole extending from the dome.

      While the title on both versions of 815 is the same, very similar but different photograph are used for 815 UN1a “NYE COUNTY COURT HOUSE, TONOPAH, NEVADA” and 815 T2.

   The easiest way to separate the two, beyond the backs, is the earliest card does not have a United States flag flying from the roof, or a shadow on the right side of the building.

    However, the following changes were made in the UN1a when 815 came out with the divided back.

    The most visible is the addition of the United States flag.

    The visible image decision made for 815 UN1a was to shows more ground in front of the building while cutting off the top of the flag pole.

      Most of the rocky hill in front and to the right side of the building were eliminated in the T2, allowing more of the flag pole on top of the building to be seen.

    With this change, a U.S is seen blowing in the wind in T2.

     Clouds were added in the T2 as well as an orange color to the tile roof and the dome.

Notes on 816


Photographer – Unknown

  The same photograph was used for both the undivided, UN1a and divided T2 versions of 816.


    The most obvious change is the absence of clouds in the earliest version, and the addition of the large cumulus type clouds in the last version.

    As a rule the ground cover in the UN1a 800 series is turned from desert sand brown to lawn green, and changed back in the later versions.

   Both versions of 816 feature the side of a mountain on the left side of the post card the artist turned into a green lump.

    As you compare the two cards, look at the detail and the use of colors in the windows of the building in the center of the card. The image of the building in the T2 version is much clearer than the earlier undivided back version.


Notes on 817



Photographer – Unknown

    The title of the earliest version of 817, with the UN1a back is “TONOPAH EXTENSION MINE, TONOPAH, NEVADA. (THE SCHWAB-McKANE SYNDICATE’S PROPERTY.)

     On the second version, with a T2 back, Mitchell shorten the title from two lines to one; “TONOPAH EXTENSION MINE, TONOPAH, NEVADA.

    The two post cards have similar views of the Tonopah mine works.

    When the 817 was issued with a divided back, a different photograph was used.

    The two photographs were exposed from about the same angle, showing the same mining operations

    The head frame is center right in both cards, as a growing mound of ore tailings.  No clouds in the early version.  Clouds are added as well as greener ground cover in the T2 version.

    Smoke is also coming from the smoke stack in the undivided back version.

Of the two, the earliest version of 816 is the better of the two images.

Notes on 818


Photographer – Unknown

   While the title, “MONTANA-TONOPAH MINE, TONOPAH, NEVADA” is used on both the undivided and divided back 818’s a different photograph was used for each version.

    Again, the view of the mine is very similar in both post cards, and the angle the photographs were taken is almost identical.

    But, the more you compare the two, it appears the divided back version is taken from a photograph earlier than the UN1a.

     There are more buildings in the UN1a, plus there are two tall smoke stacks as well as an ore car trestle and railroad tracks not seen in the later printed T2 version.

     The T2 version shows men who appear to be working on tracks, while the earlier UN1a shows the railroad tracks in place.

     Both cards show a heavy use of green for ground cover.  Like other divided back versions, the T2, 816 adds clouds to the sky above the mining operation.

Notes on 819


Photographer – unknown

    The Nevada Mitchell number 819 was first issued, with an UN1a back with the title “TONOPAH & GOLDFIELD R.R. CO. DEPOT, TONOPAH, NEVADA.”

     The railroad depot was built in 1904 and by November of 1905 a trip by rail from Goldfield to Tonopah, and on to San Francisco could be made, with of course a few stops and changes in railroads, but there was a “Tonopah Express” running out of San Francisco that provided timely connections.       From the city by the bay to a town named for nearby “grease wood water” about 470 miles, took about twenty-four hours.     The railroad would run to Tonopah until 1947 and the building itself would survive until 1960.      Despite efforts to restore the depot as a historical site and museum, the building burned down on August 13, 1960.  Arson is suspected.  The building burned to the ground in less than thirty minutes.

      Although a very busy railroad station, few post card images of the depot were produced.  Only the pre-quake image of the depot was printed by Mitchell.       The number 819 would be used again with a t2, divided back and the title “GENERAL VIEW OF TONOPAH, NEVADA.”

     The photograph was taken from a nearby hill looking down at the town of Tonopah with the mines in the background. The same photograph, with few color changes was issued on both T1 and T2 backs.    A half dozen grey roofs in the T2 become ‘pinkish’ in the T1 printing.

The Reno section of the 800 series

    Photographer for the six post cards in the Reno series is unconfirmed, but is likely William Cann who took the photograph used for 825.





                         RENO,   NEVADA.



Note on 822



     The “PUBLIC LIBRARY, RENO, NEVADA,” UN1a version is the only Mitchell post card of 822.

     The front of the library is also seen in card 139 titled “Masonic Temple and Public Library, Reno, Nevada.”  The Masonic building is in the background on the left side.  139 was printed both T1 and T2 backs,

    A third of the library building is seen in a sepia card printed for the Rands Brothers in Oakland California.  The card, without a number is titled “Library, Court House, and Riverside hotel, Reno, Nev.”

     The back of the library is also seen in Mitchell’s sepia number 487 titled “Riverside hotel, Reno, Nev.”

     The same sepia image, with same 487 number, was printed for the California Sales Company.



Notes for 823


Photographer- Unknown

 The building in the 823 UN1a postcard titled “ELK’S HOME, RENO, NEVADA” was dedicated on April 23, 1904.

      The building, located at 50 North Sierra Street, burned down on February 5, 1957.

       Based on the leafless trees the photograph was either take in late 1904 or 1905.

       With Mitchell’s artist help, you can clearly see 13 red and white stripes on the large flag flying atop the building.  Twenty-two of the 45 stars are visible.

    A different view of the Elks Home was released with a T2 back.  The title was slightly changed to “ELKS’ HOME, RENO, NEVADA.”  The apostrophe moved to the outside of the s.

   The title was also moved to the bottom edge of the left side of the card.



Notes on 824






Notes on 825


Photographer- William Cann

       The same image, with the same title, with an UN1a back, but without the 825 number was also published Mitchell for the Cann Drug Company in Reno.

     Cann’s credit line, along with Mitchell’s is printed on the left edge of the post card.

      At first glance it appears different photographs were used.  The Mitchell 825 image has far less bushes and trees than the Cann version.  Plus Mitchell’s has a United States flag, while Cann’s flag pole has only the whisper of a flag.

      Mitchell’s artist clearly was at work in the 825 version taking out trees in most cases, adding a small one off to the right.  The pond at the university is clearly visible in Cann’s version, while it disappeared under a green ground cover in Mitchell’s.

    The road to the university in Cann’s post card becomes a walking path in Mitchell’s.

   The UN1a is one of the few post cards that calls the educational institution, the “Nevada State University.”  .

   Interestingly the unnumbered Cann image, with an UN1a back, was released as the Mitchell

142, with both T1 and T2 backs, with the title, “UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA, RENO, NEVADA.”

VIRGINIA CITY 826 to 830

There are five pre-quake images of Virginia City in the 800 series.  The Photographer is unknown,  



Notes on 827


Photograph- Unknown

         The same photograph image used for the original UN1a back version of “Ophir Mine, Virginia City, Nevada,” was used for the number 106 with a T2back.

     No change to the title, but the T2 has clouds and a desert ground cover is a little less green.






Notes on 829



    The “C. & C. Shaft, Con. Cal. & Virginia Mine, Virginia City, Nevada,” UN1a was reissued as Mitchell 97 “CONSOLIDATED CAL. & Virginia SHAFT, VIRGINIA CITY, NEVADA.”

     A U.S. flag is added to the main mine building, as are clouds are added and a little more smoke is coming out of one of the four smoke stacks. T2 back.

      The UN1a 829 was also printed with “Comstock Golden Mining Jubilee, July 2, 3, 4, and ‘06” on the face of the card above the mining buildings.  It is not known where this was added onto the post cards by Mitchell, or a local printer.


Notes on 830


Photographer –Walter X. Osborn

     The image on Mitchell 830 “POGONIP” (LAND FOG) VIRGINIA CITY, NEVADA” UN1a was not reissued by Mitchell.

     It was published by Richard Behrendt of San Francisco for Harry P. Beck of Virginia City.

The divided back post card, number 841, with the exact same title as the Mitchell, was printed in Germany.

    A real photo post card, with a Velox stamp box indicated a time frame of between 1907 and 1914, was also produced with the title “Pogonip, Virginia, and Nev.”


Notes on 849


Photographer – likely R. J. Waters


      The vertical image on 840 shows the northern side of the rock.  The pre-tunnel view shows the road around the rock.  Below the road is another rock known as “The Lady of the Lake.”  From the side, the rock looks like a woman wearing a hat.

   The image used for 840 likely came from California photographer R.J. Waters.  His photograph of “Cave Rock,” is number 23 in his “Lake Tahoe Series.”

    From the rock itself to the road around the rock, to the trees in the background, there are many natural and man-made elements that match.

   Of course, the larger story is the fact that Cave Rock is In Nevada, not California.

    An earlier Mitchell, 648, UN1a, also moved Cave Rock into California with the title, “LAKE TAHOE FROM CAVE ROCK, CALIFORNIA”

    Both the 840 and the earlier 648 do not include a period at the end of the titles.

    Mitchell continued to print Cave Rock titles with the misplaced California location.

    A hint of its real location can be found in 1368’s title; “LAKE TAHOE AND CAVE ROCK FROM GLENBROOK, NEVADA.”

    While 1818 continues to list “Cave and Profile Rocks” in “Lake Tahoe, California” the Lady of the Lake designation is gone and is now just “Profile Rock.”

   And, 2524 still has the rock in California; “CAVE ROCK BY MOONLIGHT, LAKE TAHOE, CALIFORNIA.”

    The first tunnel was built in closing the road around the rock.


Notes on 845


Photographer – Unknown

          The photograph used for 845 UN1a shows the second floor of the Nevada state capitol with the rest of the building engulfed in a sea of green trees and ground cover.

   A United States flag is seen flying from a pole atop the cupola.

    No clouds are seen in the sky.

    A different photograph was for the T1 and T2 versions.

    Still engulfed in trees and bushes, this time the artist added brown to some of the trees hoping to portray a fall look.

   While a flag continues to fly over the capitol in the T1 version, it disappears in the T2 post card.

    And what looks like a couple of spots on the flag in the T1 version, instead are the artist’s effort to add shadows for depth.



 Notes on 846


Photographer -Unknown

    “PIUTE INDIANS, NEVADA,” 846 UN1a is a posed photograph of two Native Americans playing cards.

    The man on the left, with a smile on his face, is holding seven playing cards in his left hand.

    The man on the right is looking down at his hands.    He has a look on his face like “what happened to my cards?” as his hands are empty.   The photograph appears to show the second card player holding a small piece of paper.  His cards are clearly visible on the blanket.

         The number was used again for a Carson City post card with a T2 back titled, “STATE ORPHANS’ HOME, CARSON CITY, NEVADA.”

     The same image was used for an Albertype printed post card, published by the Steptoe Drug Company, Ely, Nevada.  The black and white post card is titled “GAMBLING, ELY, NEVADA.”

Notes on 847


                                                             Photographer – Fred P. Dann

      The photograph used for 847 UN1A titled “Piute Indian Papooses, Nevada,” taken by Reno photographer Fred P. Dann was illegally used by Mitchell.

      When Mitchell’s cards went on sale in Reno, Dann was shocked.   He was not asked nor did he authorized the use of this photograph featuring two children in cradleboards.

      Dann had already turned his photograph into a post card, and in May, 1906 said “the papoose picture is the best seller I have and my business has been seriously damaged by its duplication.  I can’t understand the unfair methods of the Mitchell people.  My pictures were copyright and the word “copyright” appears plainly upon the Indian Picture which they appropriated.”[xxiv]

        While alert retail outlets in Reno they should stop selling the Mitchell post card, Dann said, “I not only intend to make them stop all their sales and recall the pictures they have sent out, but will compel them to make restitution.” [xxv]

      The earthquake hit Mitchell and San Francisco, not long after the 800 series went on sale in Nevada.    It is not known if Dann followed up on his threat, or if Mitchell pulled the cards from retail outlets.

      Mitchell did not use the image again, but did use the number 846 for a Nevada view titled “State Orphans’ Home, Carson City, Nevada.”

      Dann on the other hand continued to sell his real photo postcards of the two Indian children.

     He also used the same image to print color post cards with divided backs, using the M. Rieder Company of Los Angeles.  The card, number 3868 was printed in Germany.

Notes for 848


Photographer –Unknown

     The photograph used by Mitchell for the UN1a printing was the most popular image used by many post card producers in the 1906-10 period.

    The same image, with an undivided back, was printed in Austria, by T. Schwidernoch.  The same view was also printed by Richard Behrendt of San Francisco, number 1366, for “Mrs. K. A. Raftice, Arlington Block, Carson City, Nevada,”

    The same view was also published by the Newman Post Card Company of Los Angeles, number 133/19.

   A real photo version was also released.  To date, no information about the photographer was been uncovered.

    The title says the “first house built in Nevada” it was “near Carson City” is correct, it was built in Genoa, pronounced “Juh-NO-ah”  twelve miles from the state capitol.

   On June 28, 1910, half of the town was destroyed by fire including the oldest house as well as a piano.   The Reno Evening Gazette reported on that day, “In this house is a piano which was brought over the mountains from California in an old stage and is the first piano ever brought into this state.”[xxvi]


Notes on 849


Photographer – Unknown-possible Cann.

 “Truckee River at Reno, Nevada” 849 UN1a would not be re-released until 1907 and was printed with the same title with both T1 and T2 divided backs.

     The two men in the rowboat, as well as the homes on the bluff above the Truckee are much larger as the image was significantly cropped.

     In the original version, ten tall trees are seen on the bluff left of the trees next to the homes.

In the later version, only one tree stands on the left side of the image.

     More color is added to the houses on the bluff improving the overall look of the card.

     This is one of the few divided back re-issues that could be considered better than the one with the undivided back.

[i]  “The Pacific Coast,” January 27, 1906, The American Stationer, page thirty-eight.

[ii]  “The Pacific Coast,” January 27, 1906, The American Stationer, page thirty-eight.

[iii]  “The Pacific Coast,” January 27, 1906, The American Stationer, page thirty-eight.

[iv]  “The Pacific Coast,” January 27, 1906, The American Stationer, page thirty-eight.

[v]  “The Pacific Coast,” January 27, 1906, The American Stationer, page thirty-eight.

[vi]  “The Pacific Coast,” March 3, 1906, The American Stationer, Page thirty-two.

[vii] “The Pacific Coast,” March 24, 1906, The American Stationer, Page one-hundred-and-four.

[viii] “The Pacific Coast,” March 24, 1906, The American Stationer, Page one-hundred-and-four.

[ix] “The Pacific Coast,” March 24, 1906, The American Stationer, Page one-hundred-and-four.

[x] Mitchell’s Enterprise,” June 2, 1906, The American Stationer, page 22.

[xi]  “Getting Relocated,” May 5, 1906, The American Stationer,” page one, “Mitchell’s Enterprise,” June 2, 1906, The American Stationer, page 22.

[xii] Mitchell’s Enterprise,” June 2, 1906, The American Stationer, page 22.

[xiii] Mitchell’s Enterprise,” June 2, 1906, The American Stationer, page 22.

[xiv] Mitchell’s Enterprise,” June 2, 1906, The American Stationer, page 22.

[xv] “Infringement Upon Copyright,” May 15, 1906, Reno Evening Gazette, page six.

[xvi]  “Edward H. Mitchell’s Business,” May 4, 1907, The American Stationer, page 26.

[xvii] “The Life and Frontier Photograph of P. E. Larson, Frozen in Silver, by Ronald T. Bailey, 2998, Shallow Press, Ohio University Press, Athens, Ohio, page 166.

[xviii] “The Life and Frontier Photograph of P. E. Larson, Frozen in Silver, by Ronald T. Bailey, 2998, Shallow Press, Ohio University Press, Athens, Ohio, page 160.

[xix] “The Life and Frontier Photograph of P. E. Larson, Frozen in Silver, by Ronald T. Bailey, 2998, Shallow Press, Ohio University Press, Athens, Ohio, page 160-161.

[xx] http://www.goldfieldhistoricalsociety.com/featured-story-TheFlorenceMine.html

[xxi] http://www.goldfieldhistoricalsociety.com/featured-story-TheFlorenceMine.html

[xxii] http://www.goldfieldhistoricalsociety.com/featured-story-TheFlorenceMine.html

[xxiii]  “From Miners’ Tents to Mansions,” July 9, 1961, Home Section, Salt Lake Tribune, page 5. “No Place Like Home,” November 1961, Desert Magazine, page 22.

[xxiv] “Infringement Upon Copyright,” May 15, 1906, Reno Evening Gazette, page six…

[xxv] “Infringement Upon Copyright,” May 15, 1906, Reno Evening Gazette, page six.

[xxvi]  “Town of Genoa Is Burning to Ground Today,” June 28, 1910, Reno Evening Gazette, page one.

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