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George Turner Marsh papers
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: George Turner Marsh papers
    Inclusive Dates: 1875-2001
    Bulk Dates: 1875-1931
    Collection Number: mssMarsh
    Collector: Marsh, George Turner, 1857-1932
    Extent: 26 boxes, 2 oversize folders, and 1 envelope (11 linear feet)
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Fax: (626) 449-5720
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: The George Turner Marsh papers consist of personal and professional material related to Marsh's business selling primarily Japanese arts and antiques.
    Language of Material: The material is in English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, please go to following web site .

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], George Turner Marsh papers. The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Caterina Marsh, June 2018.


    George Turner Marsh (1857-1932) was born in Richmond, Australia; son of Stephen Hale Marsh, who was court musician to Queen Victoria. When George Marsh was 15 years old his family decided to move to America. On the journey to America they stopped in Japan and the young Marsh fell in love with both the country and culture; he then persuaded his parents to let him stay. His father found him work with a tea import/export firm in Yokohama, Japan. Several years later he joined his family in San Francisco where he went on to use the expertise he gained in Japan to open one of the first Asian art galleries in the United States. Sometime after 1876, G.T. Marsh & Company: Japanese Art Repository opened at 625 Market Street at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, California. Marsh married Lucy Elvira Whiteside in 1880; the couple had one daughter and five sons. He passed away in 1932 at the age of 75.
    G.T. Marsh & Company specialized in fine antiques, works of art and textiles; the store quickly flourished as the West embraced Japanese culture and became increasingly fascinated with all things Eastern. Marsh was keen to share his enthusiasm and interest in Asia with his clients and as his experience and success grew, he opened branches in Coronado, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Pasadena, and Monterey. According to William Hertrich's (1878-1966) memoir The Huntington Botanical Gardens, 1905-1949 : personal recollections of William Hertrich curator emeritus, Henry E. Huntington purchased the house in the Japanese Garden, along with the ornaments and fixtures from Marsh's store located on Fair Oaks Avenue and California in 1911. Source: "Marsh & Co." Hancocks. Accessed 1 June 2019. https://www.hancocks-london.com/maker/marsh-%26-co./  

    Scope and Content

    The George Turner Marsh papers consist of professional and personal correspondence, documents, ephemera, financial records, legal documents, negatives, photographs, and typescripts dating from 1875-2001. The bulk of the first series contains correspondence to and from customers, export agents, art, and antique dealers including Singleton, Benda & Co., Ltd, Zung Chang Ziang Company, and Zung Chang Trading Company, Ltd (1879-1970). Included are letters from C.R. Conway and legal documents related to San Fernando Petroleum and Mining Company; Conway claimed to be one of the original claimants with interest in the company. The more recent letters, with supporting enclosures, concern the origin of the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco, California. The second series includes letters from Marsh's wife Lucy E. Whiteside Marsh writing from Pasadena, California (1903), grateful recipients of Marsh's book Citizenship for Nations (1931-1932), and direct mail from the International Coalition and the New Commonwealth (1928-1953). Included in the same series are research notes, possibly conducted by Marsh for his 1931 book. The third series includes numerous clippings, ephemera, and postcards concerning arts, culture, and politics (1881-2001). Also included is a box containing various drafts about Japanese sword mountings entitled Catalogue of Kozuka by George Turner Marsh. The fourth series consists of one daguerreotype, negatives, photograph albums, and photographs (1894-1986). Most of the photograph albums and photographs showcase Asian arts and antiques for sale at Marsh's stores and from dealers. Also included are scenes from the Japanese Village during the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894. Note: There is an envelope of unavailable negatives too fragile to be handled.


    Arranged in four series:
    • Series 1: Business material, 1875-2001
    • Series 2: Personal material, 1877-1953
    • Series 3: Ephemera, 1881-2001
    • Series 4: Photographs, 1894-1986

    Indexing Terms

    Personal Names

    Janel, Emil G., 1897-1981
    Marsh, George Turner, 1857-1932
    Stilwell, Alison

    Corporate Names

    G.T. Marsh and Company
    San Fernando Petroleum Mining Company


    Antique dealers
    Art dealers
    Art, Japanese -- Collectors and collecting
    Gardens, Japanese -- California
    Gardens, Japanese -- Exhibitions
    International cooperation
    Oriental art
    Petroleum -- California
    Sword guards -- Japan

    Geographic Areas

    California -- Exhibitions
    Coronado (Calif.)
    Monterey (Calif.)
    Santa Barbara (Calif.)


    Ephemera (general object genre)
    Photograph albums
    Sales catalogs

    Alternate Authors

    Conway, C.R.
    Whiteside, Lucy Elvira