San Francisco Landmarks

Pelican Paper Company in San Francisco Pelican Paper Company
Gibb-Sanborn Warehouses in San Francisco Pelican Paper Company in Foreground
Trinidad Bean & Elevator Company in Background

Both Photos 14 May 2008
(Click Photos to Zoom)

San Francisco Landmark #92
Pelican Paper Company
915 Front Street At Vallejo Street
Built 1855

The two Gibb-Sanborn warehouses - Pelican Paper Company and Trinidad Bean & Elevator Company - are among a handful of extant San Francisco structures which date from the Gold Rush era. They were probably built in 1855.

They were erected by 49er Daniel Gibb, commission merchant, who was active in civic and commercial affairs. As evidenced by an early lithograph and later photographs, they were rebuilt very nearly along their original lines following extensive damage in the 1906 Earthquake and Fire.

Gibb's first known business address was aboard the beached ship Niantic, where according to records of the California Historical Society, he rented two rooms under the poop deck.

Gibb's character and the nature of the commission business of that era is best revealed in a document written by one of his clients, J. A. Walker & Co.:

Daniel Gibb was early established as a commission merchant. He seemed to be energetic and capable. Goods were sent to him from all quarters of the world on consignment alone, trusting to his honesty and integrity to dispose of them to the best advantage in the wildly fluctuating market at San Francisco. The Niantic was not only used as a storeship, but also her cabins were divided up and rented as offices.

It is a curious fact that merchants all over the world speculated almost as heavily as the miner did on the streams. Shiploads of goods were poured into the new El Dorado from all ports of the world. At first, large profits were realized; then the results became ruinous to the shipper. It is a notorious fact that the shiploads of merchandise were sold at auction for a fraction of their worth to be retailed in a few days at two or three hundred percent profit. What the machinery was behind this we can only surmise. Sound merchants, such as the Scotch clients of Daniel Gibb and Company, felt their market carefully and endeavored to be guided absolutely by its consumption. Others sent in consignments without rhyme or reasons, and reaped the corresponding reward.

Gibb remained in San Francisco for twelve years. He was subscriber to the construction of the Pelton School, the first public school in San Francisco and served as President of the Chamber of Commerce. As such, he had been a stalwart leader in fighting back the attempts of a handful of speculators known as Bulkheaders to gain exclusive control of San Francisco's waterfront.

Daniel Gibb was typical of many natives of the British Isles who emigrated and, after having established fortunes, returned to the land of their birth. He returned to Scotland in 1861, intending to return to San Francisco; however, he died in Glasgow in December of that year.

Adapted from San Francisco Planning Commission Resolution 7581 approved 14 October 1976.

Pelican Paper Company is also known as the Gibb-Sanborn Warehouse North. The warehouse across Vallejo Street is San Francisco Landmark 91, Trinidad Bean and Elevator Company also known as the Gibb-Sanborn Warehouse South.

The warehouses are NRHP Listing #97001189.

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