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One of the Best California Bird's Eye Views. Rare.

Marvelous four-stone color lithograph of California, published by the San Francisco firm Schmidt Label & Lith. Co.

The view takes in the whole of California from a vantage above San Francisco, facing east.  It pays particular focus to California's Central Valley and the relationship between that area and San Francisco Bay.  The San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys are rendered as verdant alternatives to the mountains and deserts that surround.  The perspective is visually engaging, novel, and clearly intended to emphasize the importance of San Francisco and the Bay Area to California.

Schmidt Label and Litho. Co. was an accomplished color lithography firm operating in San Francisco in the 1880s. Most of the maps and views from their oeuvre feature similar tones - blue, green, and yellow.

Other Variants

The view is known in the following related variants:

Bird's Eye View of California. Lettering of title and "Pacific Ocean" in red ink. Rail lines in red ink. Generally simplified compared with the present view. Seemingly from different stones. One recorded copy at California Historical Society.

Bird's Eye View of California. The Morning Call Premium Map. Insets in the lower left and right corners advertising the Morning Call newspaper of San Francisco. The view was given with a paid yearly subscription of the Morning Call, $6.00 and with a paid yearly subscription of the Weekly Call, $1.25.


California city views are rare finds, and views of the state of California still rarer; this is the only such view, taking in all of the state, that we have seen.

Condition Description
In a few places old folds have been expertly reinforced on the verso.
Schmidt Label & Litho. Co. Biography

The Schmidt Lithography Company was based in San Francisco. Max Schmidt, a German immigrant, founded his first printing business in 1873, and he was one of the first printers to use lithography on the West Coast. His plant burned twice, in 1884 and 1886, but by the 1890s he ran a factory in San Francisco, as well as branches in Portland and Seattle.

During the 1906 earthquake and fire the company’s premises were destroyed again. Schmidt quickly acquired a nearby paper factory and production continued practically uninterrupted. Within two years of the fire, Schmidt had rebuilt on the site of his former factory at the corner of Second and Bryant Streets.

Schmidt’s company was best known for its printed labels, but they also produced other items like separately-issued prints. The company was once the largest printing company on the West Coast and today they are remembered for the clock tower that still stands at Second and Bryant Streets.