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H. H. Bancroft & Co.

A boy in a Buffalo bookstore, Mr. Bancroft, at the age of nineteen was sent by his employer to establish himself in San Francisco.  Opening business in 1856 in the Naglee Building, at Montgomery and Merchant streets, then the center of the finance and trade of the Pacific Coast, Mr. Bancroft paid in rents during the fifteen years that followed a sum equivalent to twice the value of the property at the present day.

Erecting a spacious building to meet his enlarged requirements, Mr. Bancroft moved to Market Street in 1871, and there developed the largest combined mercantile and manufacturing, wholesale and retail, book, stationery and publishing business in the world.  This building was burned in 1886, and the present History Building arose in its stead, and was burned in its turn in the late fire.  It is to be replaced at once by a still more elegant structure.  The History Company and the Bancroft Company were then incorporated, the latter continuing to the present time in New York City as publishers of high-grade art works, one of the most popular at present being “The Book of Wealth,” at $2,500 a copy.

Meanwhile, from the first, Mr. Bancroft became interested in Western American history, and for a period of forty years devoted much of his time to collecting a library of 60,000 volumes and writing and publishing a series of histories in 39 volumes.  The library has since passed into the possession of the State University at Berkeley.

Three sons succeed to Mr. Bancroft’s honors and emoluments, to which each will add his quota, and pass the increased heritage on to his descendants, for each is already so well established in thrift and integrity as to make his fortune a matter of no uncertainty.  All three are graduates of Harvard, of good ability and native application.  Immediately after completing his college course, Paul Bancroft built and successfully organized and equipped St. Dunstan’s, and has since entered upon the business of real estate in San Francisco.  Griffing Bancroft is a lawyer in San Diego, having in charge the family’s landed interests in that county.  Philip Bancroft is a member of the progressive law firm of Hewlett, Bancroft and Ballantine, with offices in the Monadnock Building.

San Francisco News Letter
July 21, 1906