Copper Hill Mining Co. stock certificate No. 339 for 10 shares ($1,000) issued at San Francisco to an H. Richmond on November 5, 1863.
Soledad Mining District, Los Angeles County, Calif.
Copper Hill incorporated July 31, 1862, and issued 8,400 shares at a par value of $100 per share (capitalization: $840,000) from its headquarters at 636 Sacramento Street.
This rare stock certificate relates to mining activity in the "Soledad City" camps in Soledad Canyon that came to be known as Ravena City in 1868 and Ravenna in the 1870s.
Historians tend to think of gold in connection with the mines at Acton and Ravenna, but minerals
don't occur in isolation, and copper was the mineral that initially attracted miners to Soledad Canyon.
Perkins quotes journalist Ben C. Truman:
In 1861, attention was turned to the Soledad Canyon by the discovery of copper — a great excitement followed and nearly $300,000 was immediately sunk in development.
Some of the most beautiful specimens of native copper ever seen were found, many of which were in the formation of leaves, exquisitely frosted with silver.
The ore when found was incomparably rich and most of it contained 85 to 90 percent of metal. It was found only in chambers (pockets) however, there being no defined walls.
Regarding Copper Hill Mining Co. in particular, Perkins (ibid.) quotes from the Los Angeles Tri-Weekly News of March 1863:
Everything is encouraging at Soledad. ... The Copper Hill Mining Co. is sinking a shaft on the Mary Delpha Lode, to a depth of 40 feet.
Click to enlarge.
The Daily Alta California reported in April 1863 that a Mr. A. Woodside had left by steamer,
presumably from San Francisco, with 20 miners to develop a claim for the Copper Hill Mining Co. and also to "run a tunnel through Galveston Hill for
the Occidental Copper Mining Company." We don't know a hill by that name, but it was in the Soledad vicinity.
The Copper Hill stock certificate is 10¼x5⅜ inches, thin rag paper, printed by Towne & Bacon of San Francisco.
It is signed by the company president, John H. Redington,
and the secretary, Edward Barry, a mineralogist who
was also secretary of the Occidental Copper Mining Co. and no doubt other, similiar companies.
The certificate is endorsed on the back to a George Louis, who purchased the shares in 1869. Witnesses to the transaction are the seller, Richmond, and a W.D. Litchfield. There was a
grocer in San Francisco named Watson D. Litchfield who was born in Maine in 1835 and was living in San Francisco's 6th Ward in 1870.
The company president, Redington, was a prominent San Francisco citizen.
Redington was a '49er who came around Cape Horn in that year but wisely didn't go into mining (except as a venture capitalist). Instead he and two other young men
"chartered a sailing ship, stocked it with lumber, steel and drugs" — and founded the first drug company in the West. By the 1860s it was known as Redington & Co. Partners came and went; it was the
Coffin-Redington Co. when it was sold to Brunswig Drug Co. in 1949, a century after its founding.
At the same time he was signing Copper Hill stock certificates, Redington was one of the San Francisco denizens who participated in the opening-day excursion of the
San Francisco and San Jose Railroad when it completed the first 35 miles of its eventual 50-mile line on October 17, 1863 (see below). Another rider was Gov. Leland Stanford. The
San Francisco and San Jose would become the western extent of the transcontinental railroad — after its vice president, Henry Mayo Newhall, sold his interest to the Big Four
(Stanford, Crocker, Huntington, Hopkins).
The deal made Henry Newhall a millionaire. In the 1870s he used his newfound wealth to purchase a half-dozen ranches in California including the western half of the Santa Clarita Valley.
(His holdings didn't include the Soledad Canyon mining properties, but there is little doubt he knew about them in the 1860s.)
Back in the day, corporations raised capital by levying
assessments against shareholders. Delinquent payers had a sufficient number of shares sold at auction to cover their debt, the recordation being
made in the company's books. One name that shows up among the delinquents on Copper Hill's books is John Johnson — probably the same John Johnson who presided over the
contemporaneous Occidental Copper Mining Co.
Further reading: A.B. Perkins: The Story of Our Valley, Part 5: Mining.
1. This stock certificate had been in the collection of Ken Prag, a major scripophily dealer
in the Bay Area (Burlingame, Calif.). One other example is known to exist, dated February 11, 1863.
2. Per Holabird Americana, the auction house in Reno from which we obtained the stock certificate in 2019.
3. National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for the Coffin-Redington Building in San Francisco, approved in 2001.
The building post-dated the company founder; it was erected in the 1930s at 301 Folsom Street/300 Beale Street.