Sale 15BP02 | Lot 297

[MINING - COLORADO] Important Archive of Horace Tabor's Chrysolite Silver Mining Company, Leadville, Colorado

Catalogue: Rare Books, Autographs & Photographs
[MINING - COLORADO]  Important Archive of Horace Taborand#39;s Chrysolite Silver Mining Company, Leadville, Colorado

Lot Details

Lot 297
[MINING - COLORADO] Important Archive of Horace Tabors Chrysolite Silver Mining Company, Leadville, Colorado. Leadville: 1880s to 1...
. Leadville: 1880s to 1930s. The archive, which contains much compelling material from the early 1880s (the first years of the Colorado Silver Boom) is housed in a rectangular canvas case long known as the "Tabor Box" and comprises hundreds of items including copy-books, ledgers, a large map, original documents, cancelled checks, etc. The contents include: a remarkable 1879 certificate for the payment of capital stock in the amount of ten million dollars from the Chrysolite Silver Mining Co., signed twice by Tabor and his partners, so that properties to be mined could be purchased; a group of approximately 100 cancelled dividend checks dated 1880-85, one of the earliest signed by Tabor in February of 1880 for over $5000; four important roller-copy letter books, covering roughly 1880-88 and 1895/96 being the retained correspondence between the managers of the Chrysolite Mining Company and the President and Secretary of the company in New York (these described in note below); an undated list of stockholders in the company; two small leather bound deposit ledgers issued by the Carbonate Bank and the Bank of Leadville; a very large 1901 color-lithographed map of all the mines in the Leadville area; the archive closing with hundreds of pages of documents through the 1930s, including contracts for drilling, manuscript and typed accountings, ownership transfers, etc., sadly, a late document leases the claims to the mines in the California District to Eugene Bond for just $10. Some tears and creasing to the thin paper of the copybooks, dampstaining, some copies weak or with heavy ink bleed, the archive generally well preserved overall, should be seen.

AN IMPORTANT AND RARE ARCHIVE CHRONICLING COLORADO'S SILVER BOOM. Horace Tabor, known as the Bonanza King of Leadville, first arrived at California Gulch in the 1860s and, finding the mine panned out, worked variously as postmaster and the owner of a general store until 1878. In April of that year Tabor, known for his generosity, by chance grubstaked two German immigrants and made a fast fortune when a bonanza of silver was discovered in the Little Pittsburg Mine. Tabor eventually sold his stake in the Pittsburg and heavily invested in the Matchless Mine under the newly incorporated Chrysolite Silver Mining Company. The fresh deposits of silver near the surface yielded immediate returns and created great wealth (from what had begun as a $17 investment in 1878, one of the earliest items in this archive is a $5000 check made out to and signed by Tabor in February of 1880). But as the easily accessed deposits ran thin and required the expense of deep drilling to access reserves, continuing to pay high dividends to investors in New York and Europe became difficult, and within 1880 the company's stock price began a precipitous decline. This financially drained Tabor, who in the meantime had become a Colorado Senator and had built the Tabor Opera House (Oscar Wilde spoke there in 1882) while investing heavily in mining ventures in South America. Penniless, by 1895 Tabor worked shoveling slag at the Cripple Creek mine and he died in 1899 in his final position as the Postmaster of Denver.
Besides the stock certificate and the signed check mentioned above, this archive is remarkable for the hundreds of pages of retained correspondence found in the four roller-copy letter books which truly tell the tale of the mine ranging from its early earning potential, experimental drilling on the land to access reserves, to a list of those killed in accidents in the mine's early years. The first is a large ledger (14 x 9 ½ inches) listing the 1880-83 mining expenses of the Chrysolite Mining Co. and featuring a thirteen page letter from the mine's manager to representatives in New York regarding the profitability of various leases on the land ("The earnings for the past years have been spent in exploring the property of the company; the attention of the management has been chiefly directed to this work..."); results of experiments on the land ("These experiments proved that 95% of the lead could be saved, but that a larger portion of the silver was lost..."), and in conclusion the manager begins to temper expectations on the profitability of the mine ("In those early days we worked near the surface, our cash per ton was light. Today we are working in deep parts of the mine, and our cash for hoisting, hammering and drilling is great.")
The letters continue over several years with many written by noted mine manager S.F. Parrish. Topics include the progress of new shafts ("a body of iron was uncovered ... about 10 feet in further down it came into the south end of the shaft, the quartzite lying against it, if this iron is continuous we now have about 20 feet of it..."); the shipping of silver ("the contractors have shipped this month 12 cars, about 160 tons of iron ... the first shipped 70 tons yielded 13.5 (?) of silver ... in addition they will ship 20 or 25 tons of mineral of very good grade"); accidents and issues at the mine including much on the constant fight against flooding ("water came into the shaft so quickly that the pumps could scarcely handle it ... I took the men out ... fearing that continued sinking we might drown them out."); many mentions of contract relationships with the Arkansas Valley Co. and others; letters regarding the grade of silver; payments to investors and shareholders; insuring the mine; numerous accounting charts; a few small hand-drawn maps; reports of surveys ("this company has surveyed a line of road down California Gulch with the intention of pushing in spurs ... supplying the mine with coal, coke, ore, etc."); descriptions of such shafts and locations with colorful names such as the Big Pittsburgh, the Little Chief Hole, and Strayhorse Gulch among others, and mentioning various prospecting companies in Leadville, Denver, etc.
Of interest is lengthy report of "Accidents and Deaths," many of which are quite grisly, including men hit on the head by timbers, those killed in explosions, a man overtaken by a gas drift who then fell from an ascending bucket, those hurt or killed by missteps, poor lighting, loose earth, falling buckets and pipes, etc. Of note in this section is the report of a man acting as a guard during the 1880 strike at the mine who was shot by a protester. AN ARCHIVE RICH IN RESEARCH POTENTIAL.
For a full description of Tabor and the Chrysolite Silver Mining Company, see Raymond E. Dumett. Mining Tycoons in the Age of Empire, p. 52.


Estimate: $20,000 - $30,000
Sold for $22,500 (includes buyer's premium)

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Estimate: $20,000 - $30,000
Sold for $22,500 (includes buyer's premium)

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Rare Books, Autographs & Photographs

Mon, Nov 23, 2015 at 10am EST
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