"Old Series" Trademarks
This collection highlights California's early years of trademark filings under the state's Trademark Registration Act (Chapter 129, Statutes of 1863). California began registering certain container brands in 1861, but trademark registration for all types of products began in 1863, seven years prior to federal legislation. California was the first state in the Union to allow trademark registration, and today those doing business in California still register their trademarks with the Secretary of State. The California State Archives, in conjunction with The Friends of California Archives, is pleased to unveil the results of a National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) funded project. The NHPRC awarded The Friends of California Archives money to support “For Their Protection: Digitizing California's 19th Century Trademark Files,” a project to digitize approximately 24,000 pages from the collection of Trademark Registrations and Specimens, Old Series, 1861-1900 at the California State Archives. The results of that digitization project are displayed here. Trademark applications or claims typically contain the filing date, a trademark specimen (a label, sketch, or facsimile), the name(s) of the applicant(s), the name of the company, and may include the business address, identification of product, and a detailed description of the trademark. Legitimate producers registered their trademarks in part as an effort to protect themselves and the public from those who sought to sell counterfeit merchandise. Often ephemeral and truly “signs of the times,” trademarks give us an idea of the types of products sold and consumed in California in the past and offer us a glimpse of life in the Golden State as it was in bygone days.