Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
Newhall Quality California Sardines
H.M. Newhall & Co.

Label: Newhall Quality California Sardines, H.M. Newhall & Co. Distributers [sic], San Francisco, 1920s.

Tony Newhall, great-great-grandson of Henry Mayo Newhall, writes:

H.M. Newhall & Company was founded as an auction house in San Francisco in 1852, when H.M. Newhall bought out two partners who had originally hired him (Hall & Martin). The firm became very prosperous in the 1850s-1870s by buying up bulk cargoes of ships as they docked in San Francisco, then selling off the goods piece by piece in their auction house.

When H.M. Newhall died in 1882, two of his sons carried on the trade which became an import-export firm over time. By the 1930s, H.M.'s grandsons George Newhall and Almer M. Newhall were running the business as partners. In the period 1920-1950, the firm specialized in a few things. Among them were spices imported from southeast Asia, and fish and abalone, both California-grown and from Mexico, that were exported to the Orient. (All cans of a now-defunct brand called Cal-Mex Abalone, shipped to Japan as a delicacy, were stamped as being marketed by H.M. Newhall & Co.)

In 1965, the firm fell on hard times, as every manufacturer started doing its own importing and exporting. H.M. Newhall & Company was purchased by Walter Scott Newhall, Jr., one of H.M.'s great-grandsons (born 1942). But as the demand for spices and exotic fish dwindled, the company no longer had a market. I believe that it closed down for good in about 1969.

[This] sardine label [appears to be] from sometime in the 1920s-1950s. H.M. Newhall & Co. was simply the exporting agent who contracted with the supplier in California and marketed them to foreign buyers, mostly in Japan and China.

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.

LW2106: 1200 dpi jpeg.

• Personal-Bio.
• Auction Business
• Early Newhall Land
• Newhall Ranch House
• Farming-Ranching
• Newhall Land Execs


SCV History Moment


Billhead 1870


Billhead 1873


Billhead 1881


Sardines 1920s


Location 2001

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