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Guide to the W. P. Fuller & Co. (San Francisco, Calif.) Records, 1896-1921
MS 3356  
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The collection consists of five bound letterbooks of letters sent to W. P. Fuller & Co. from September 1896 to September 1921. The letters are from the Pioneer White Lead Works and the Pioneer Color Works, subsidiaries of the company; and from branch offices in California and Portland, primarily regarding orders for supplies and paints, reports, and other routine business matters.
W. P. Fuller & Co. traces its origins to the pioneer firm of Fuller and Heather which began in 1857 in Sacramento. The firm was established when William Parmer Fuller (1827-90) went into partnership with Seton Heather, a young Englishman. The firm advertised itself as being "Importers and Wholesale Dealers in Paints, Oils, French Window Glass, Brushes, Varnishes, Turpentine, Glue, Gold Leaf, Artists' Materials, etc.". In 1862 Fuller and Heather moved to San Francisco. Heather remained in Sacramento managing what would become a branch operation, while Fuller established the headquarters of the business in San Francisco. By 1867, Fuller and Heather was doing so well that it had outdistanced one of its major competitors in the area, Oliver & Co., and was close on the heels of a second, Cameron, Whittier & Co. That same year the three firms considered merging into a joint stock company as a result of competition from English manufacturers who were undercutting the California paint market by setting low rates. D. J. Oliver pulled out of the negotiations but William Franklin Whittier (1832-1919), the surviving member of Cameron, Whittier & Co. eventually decided to form a partnership with Fuller. Fuller bought out Heather's interest in Fuller and Heather, and the new company, Whittier, Fuller & Co. was formed January 1, 1868. The merger made the company the largest dealing in paints, oils and glass on the Pacific coast.
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