This is confusing. It is a billhead from Newhall's Sons & Co. Auctioneers and
Commission Merchants, with a hand-written date apparently reading July 18, 1881.
Trouble is, as far as anyone knows, Newhall's Sons & Co. wasn't set up until 1883, a
year after H.M. Newhall's death. It's possible that the hand-written date is 1887, but that
wouldn't make much sense either, in that the company is believed to have lasted just two
years. It could be a really poorly scrawled 1884, but judging from the original, it isn't likely.
The billhead reads as follows: "Bought of Newhall's Sons & Co., Auctioneers and Commission
Merchants, Fire-Proof Store, Nos. 309, 311 & 313 Sansome St., Corner Halleck. Terms of Sale:
Cash in U.S. Gold Coin, before Delivery of Bills; no allowance on sample lots; no allowance for damage,
variation, or deficiency after Goods leave the Store.
Anyway, on with the "official" story ...
Henry Mayo Newhall auctioned goods that were shipped into San Francisco and was successful enough
to buy out his partners in 1852, when he changed the company's name to H.M. Newhall and Co. Newhall died
in 1882; in 1883, the short-lived Newhall's Sons & Co. was organized to continue the auction business. (This was the same year Newhall's heirs organized
The Newhall Land and Farming Co.)
It was through his early success as an auctioneer that Newhall amassed his fortune, enabling him in the early 1870s to purchase
five old California land grant ranchos, including the Rancho San Francisco, which included the western Santa Clarita Valley
and eastern portions of Ventura County.
Newhall family historian Ruth Waldo Newhall, great-granddaughter-in-law of H.M. Newhall, writes in "A California Legend: The Newhall Land
and Farming Company":
During his late forties and early fifties, [H.M.] Newhall was a man of seemingly inexhaustible energies.
With one hand, he bought and administered ranches; with the other, he lived the life of a busy city executive
and family man. Despite his other activities, he never neglected his first company, the primary source of his
wealth. The firm of H.M. Newhall & Co., successor to (Hall, Martin & Co. auctioneers), had matured
as an active part of the San Francisco business community. Cargoes arrived not only from the company's East
Coast agents but also from Europe and the Orient. Agents operated in many of the world's major cities, buying
whiskey from Scotland and hemp from Manila and selling insurance on high-seas cargoes. Twice a year, Newhall
himself or other company executives went on buying trips to New York. Newhall continued to mount the auction
block from time to time to call through a catalogue.
[Following H.M.N.'s death in 1882:]
After the city properties and stocks and bonds were assigned to Mrs. [Margaret] Newhall [H.M.N.'s widow],
the rest of the estate was administered as three separate enterprises. H.M. Newhall & Co. was appointed
as business manager for the entire estate and continued as commission merchants and insurance brokers. [H.M.N.'s son]
Mayo, the legal adviser, and George [another son], recently graduated from high school, worked with their uncle
Gilbert Palache in this company.
A second firm, Newhall Sons & Co., was organized to continue the auction business. [Sons] Edwin and Walter,
trained at the auction block by their father, decided to continue in his footsteps. However, the development
of communications and commerce soon reduced the auction business to an outlet for used goods. Railroads,
transcontinental telegraph, and regular shipping had put the distribution of new merchandise into the hands
of wholesalers, bypassing the need for auction companies. Newhall Sons & Co. ran heavily into debt and within
two years it was dissolved. Edwin and Walter went into other family enterprises.