San Francisco: California: 21 September 1872.
Quarto bifolium (ca. 23,5x18 cm). 3 pp. Pencil on laid paper, written in a legible hand. Fold marks, a minor small split on the margin of the first leaf (on a fold), but overall a very good letter.
An interesting letter giving insight into the negotiations in California gold and quartz mining in the 1870s. The main is about a local mining property offered for sale, and the potential buyer’s delay to make up his mind about the purchase, although the mine needs to be pumped before the winter rains, and special machinery needs to be repaired as soon as possible. The letter was apparently written by a representative of Baron Frederick Stech, a German miner active in California in the 1860s and 1870s. Contemporary publications call Stech “a well-known German promoter” (Baron Reichtoven Once Mined Here// The Morning Union, Grass Valley, California, 5 June 1903, p. 4) and “an eminent mining engineer of great experience” (Raymond, R.W. Statistics of Mines and Mining in the States and Territories West of the Rocky Mountains. Washington, 1873, p. 71). Originally from Schleswig Holstein, Stech started a quartz mining enterprise in 1865, working in Meadow Lake, Nevada Co, together with another German miner Baron Richthofen (most likely, with Ferdinand von Richthofen, a noted German traveller and geographer, who later coined the term “Silk Route”). In the 1870s, Stech held positions of a superintendent at several Californian mining enterprises - the Kanaka mill, Sierra Co. (Mining Summary// Scientific Press. San Francisco, 2 Jule 1870, Vo. XXI, No. 1, p. 4), Indian Valley Mine (Feather River Bulletin, Quincy, Ca., 7 October 1871, p. 2), and Brown’s Valley Consolidated Mining Co., Yuba Co. (Raymond, R.W. Statistics of Mines and Mining in the States and Territories West of the Rocky Mountains. p. 71). Stech still lived in California on a “very comfortable villa” as late as 1895 (The Independent. Santa Barbara, 19 September 1895, p. 2). Overall an interesting original letter illustrating German involvement in California mining in the latter half of the 19th century.
The text of the letter: “Robt. Connely.
Dr. Sir, I have read your telegrams of 19th & 21st to Baron Stech. The first saying you had found parties willing to advance money after seeing property, provided it suited them, which is satisfactory, as the Baron is desirous that they should see the property before concluding negotiations and satisfy themselves of the merits of the investments. Your dispatch of today repeats the offer of money necessary to execute work and says that parties will start in twenty days for San Francisco and to wait for letters explanatory.
The Baron is getting very impatient waiting on uncertainties without any security that the business will terminate satisfactory. Twenty days to start and seven to come and three or four to go up and look at property, consumes another month. Castings for repairs of machinery will consume a little more time, after negotiations are concluded, all of which delays bring on the rainy season, and it is important that the mine be pumped out before the winter rains. Besides the time is running on the bonds, although they are most liberal in terms, so much so that other parties here are desirous of investing in them. <…> If he [the Baron] had any security that your negotiations with others would terminate satisfactorily, then he would commence operations by ordering repairs & machinery.
Your letters on the way may give that security, if not it would have been better that you came instead, or sent someone competent to close the transactions. On receipt of this I hope you may be ready to start at once, or send someone authorized to act in the premises, though I had rather you come yourself. The Baron is really vexed at the delay, hence you must talk business…”.