LOGO_Small.jpg (9864 bytes)ESQ60.jpg (7772 bytes)

home specials order info about us contact us 

History - part 1

- the first 105 years - 1852 to 1957

Most of our customers do not know the history behind A. Carlisle and Company of Nevada. We thought it would be interesting to our clients, to cover our history briefly and what to expect from us in the future by our past.

With a start in stationery in the Gold Rush Days, two presidents named Carlisle and six street addresses later. A. Carlisle & Co. has won front-ranked position in the graphic arts industry of the West.

By the year 1852, it was already apparent to thousands of fortune-seekers that the treasure of California’s Mother Lode just wasn’t juicy enough to go ’round. Shrewd men and talented men from all parts of the world accepted this bitter fact and turned to other pursuits, finding fortune or fame in California without the help of gold. It was undoubtedly a good thing for the State that so many capable young men enjoyed such short and disappointing careers as miners.

One so fated was a New York lithographer named Joseph Britton, who in 1852 traded his pick and pan for tools he was better acquainted with and teamed up with a French artist named Jacques Rey, to start a lithographic business in San Francisco. On stone, Britton and Rey illustrated California profusely and brilliantly, earning fame and success in their craft. Their business was purchased in 1916 by the San Francisco firm of A. Carlisle & Co., Printers & Stationers, and they are therefore regarded as the company’s earliest operating ancestors.

A. Carlisle & Co. looks back across years of hardy growth, and ahead to more years of prosperity and expansion, based upon its sound and simple code of business practice — experience, quality, and service — the company’s stock-in-trade ever since the day in 1878 when a youngster from Maryland named Albert Carlisle went into business for himself at 212 Battery Street, San Francisco, selling stationery supplies.

The first years were tough ones, because it was a time of depression in California following the collapse of the Comstock Lode boom in the mid-’Seventies. But like many another founder of today’s old and honored San Francisco business firms, Albert Carlisle had the energy, pluck, and good judgment to turn his gamble into a going concern.

For a long time the business remained a small one, consisting of the retail  distribution of stationery, sold principally by mail. But despite cramped quarters and the modest scale of operations, A. Carlisle & Co. was a progressive outfit. It was one of the first business houses in San Francisco to install a telephone, which rang when a caller asked the operator for "main 3."

While his company was growing up, so was the large family of Albert Carlisle. He had married Eleanor Majors, daughter of Alexander Majors, one of the co-founders of the Pony Express, and the couple raised six children — three boys and three girls. In time, all of the boys went to work for their father. It was Mrs. Carlisle, a talented woman and respected civic leader in the family’s home town, Berkeley, who designed the company’s now-famous trademark — the head of an Indian whose feathers ingeniously spell CARLISLE.

In 1902, 24 years after he had started his business, Albert Carlisle was solely in need of more room, so he moved his firm two blocks north to larger quarters at 417 Montgomery Street. Those few men and women who still remember working for the company at this location recall the peculiarly fortunate arrangement of tenants. Sharing the second floor were A. Carlisle & Co., by this time a wholesaler of stationary and legal blanks, and the Hayden Printing Company. Business was traded back and forth. Printer’s ink began to get on Carlisle’s hands.

Here, too, lived a well-known early-day Carlisle character — Tom, the cat, an expert "mouser" who spent his days comfortably in the bookkeeper’s desk drawer. Tom, of course, had departed, but the bookkeeper, Miss Frances Sayles, stayed on to become director of the company in 1951.

Albert Carlisle died in 1904. It was his widow’s decision to carry on the business, which was placed jointly in the hands of her eldest son, Burlington Carlisle, and the firm’s salesman, Edward Hanrahan, an older man whose tutelage, judgment, and skill in business development were to be of the utmost value to the company as it grew in stature.

In the Fire of 1906, the building at 417 Montgomery Street was destroyed, and when A. Carlisle & Co. reopened for business at a new location, the company had adsorbed the Hayden Printing Co. A decade later, Burlington Carlisle, then president of Carlisle purchased the lithographing firm of Britton and Rey — the second of several sound acquisitions and mergers, as a result of which the company, long before its 100th birthday, had become one of the largest lithographers in the West. Size, however, has never been an objective of Burlington Carlisle, service and quality were and are — through a constant pioneering and perfecting of processes, in both letterpress printing and offset lithography.

In 1917 A. Carlisle saw a need to expand in Nevada and opened A. Carlisle of Nevada, which was located at 131 North Virginia Street, in Reno. At this  location, A. Carlisle serviced the area with a retail stationary supply store and printing facility. The printing facility specialized in full service lithography and bookbinding.

In San Francisco there were several interim moves to larger quarters. Then, in 1930, the same year the company’s name was changed to A. Carlisle & Co., Upham & Rutledge, Inc., a six-story building was leased at 135 Post Street, in the heart of San Francisco’s downtown shopping district. Here the firm opened a large retail stationery store, for the purpose of bringing the people of the Bay Area into a closer acquaintance with one of their leading printers and lithographers. The upper floors at 135 Post housed these activities. Eighteen years  later, when the company was again seriously cramped for work space after World War II, and the retail store had effectively served its goodwill purpose, this operation was discontinued and the company moved to a large, new, permanent home of its own at 645 Harrison Street.

By this time, 1948, a third-generation member of the family was active in the management of the business. Burlington Carlisle, Jr., grandson of the founder, and executive vice president of the firm, supervised planning of the huge, new $2,000,000 Carlisle plant on Harrison Street, and plotted the progressive moves to it from Post Street. For several months the firm, now renamed A. Carlisle & Co., Printers, Lithographers, Stationers, did business at both places.

In the 1950’s, California was in a period of extraordinary growth and prosperity. Vigorous industrial and plant expansion looms large in the picture. A. Carlisle & Co. is a typical participant — a leading manufacturer and supplier in its field, under skillful, progressive direction, ready in a magnificent modern plant to give its customers finer-than-ever service, and finer-than-ever products.

Then in 1957, A. Carlisle of Nevada employees purchased the Reno facility and formed A. Carlisle and Company of Nevada. Dr. Arnold Johannes became President with Ray Jefferson as General Manager. Also in 1957, the San Francisco facility was sold to Litton Industries. Since the purchase . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .