Guide to the James Rankin & Sons Records, 1921-1991 (bulk 1921-1958)

Processed by Xiuzhi Zhou
The Bancroft Library.
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, California, 94720-6000
Phone: (510) 642-6481
Fax: (510) 642-7589
© 1998
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.


History --History, California Geographical (By Place) --California Social Sciences --Business and Economics

Guide to the James Rankin & Sons Records, 1921-1991 (bulk 1921-1958)

Collection number: BANC MSS 92/96 c

The Bancroft Library

University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, California

Contact Information:

Processed by:
Xiuzhi Zhou
Date Completed:
Encoded by:
Hernán Cortés
© 1998 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Collection Summary

Collection Title: James Rankin & Sons Records,
Date (inclusive): 1921-1991
Date (bulk): (bulk 1921-1958)
Collection Number: BANC MSS 92/96 c
Creator: James Rankin & Sons
Extent: Number of containers: 3 boxes, 1 portfolio, 1 oversize folder Linear ft.: 1.7
Repository: The Bancroft Library
Berkeley, California 94720-6000
Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Languages Represented: English

Information for Researchers


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], James Rankin & Sons records, BANC MSS 92/96 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Material Cataloged Separately

  • Photographs have been transferred to Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library.

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information

The James Rankin & Sons Records were given to The Bancroft Library in December 1991, by James Rankin & Sons.

Scope and Content

Born in May 1851, James Rankin immigrated to the United States from Scotland when in his teens. He first found employment and learned the trade of plumbing from his uncle, Mr. Dalziel of Oakland. He continued to work with his uncle for about twenty years until he was able to establish, in partnership with a Mr. Moore, his own firm, Rankin & Moore. Five years later, Mr. Rankin sold his interest to Mr. Moore and began independently. In 1904 he took his two sons into partnership with him, the firm being known as James Rankin & Sons. Their business was very successful both as to quality and quantity of work, winning them many friends and patrons.
In 1923 William Randolph Hearst contracted with James Rankin & Sons to install heating and plumbing facilities at Hearst Castle, San Simeon, then at Wyntoon Estate near McCloud, and also at Jolon, California. The James Rankin & Sons records contain correspondence, invoices, clippings, and a memoir which provide information about the installation process in these three locations. This collection supplements other records on the history of Hearst Castle, in particular concerning the plumbing and heating facilities in Hearst Castle, and at Wyntoon Estate.
Along with the correspondence of William R. Hearst, the records also contain correspondence with Julia Morgan, the prominent architect who designed and supervised the constructions both in San Simeon and at McCloud. The invoices record in detail all aspects of the work.
The most interesting item in this collection is Mr. James Rankin's reminiscence recounting his contact with William Randolph Hearst, Sr., regarding plumbing installations in Hearst Castle. Clippings, about Hearst Castle, Julia Morgan, and James Rankin are included, as is a drawing of the plumbing layout for the poultry farm at Hearst Castle.

Box 1, folders 1-12


Scope and Content Note


Arranged alphabetically by correspondent, and then chronologically.
Consists of letters written or sent by James Rankin & Sons to the Hearst family and staff, including Julia Morgan, at the construction sites in California. Included in the folder of William Randolph Hearst Jr.'s letters are two illustrated letter sheets for Casa Del Monte, San Simeon, California. A folder of miscellany, A-Z, precedes the folders for correspondents writing more than seven letters.
Box 1, folder 1

A-Z, Miscellaneous 1928-31


Alex R. Schmidt Company


American Radiator Company


Carlson, Raymond


De Laval Steam Turbine Company


Dunn, Ed


Enquirer Publishing Company


Grinnell Company of the Pacific


Hunter, H. O.


Irving, Kelley


LeFeaver, James F.


Loors, George


M. Greenberg's Sons


McClure, Warren


Ocean Shore Iron Works


Parks, A. F.


Piedmont Land & Cattle Company


Refinite Company


Reich Transfer Company


Rose, George


Sebastian, Peter


Silknitter, R. M.


Taylor, Harry


White Manufacturing Company


Woodin & Little

folder 2

Boss, E. E. 1929-31

folder 3

Hearst, William Randolph, 1908- 1958

folder 4

Morgan, Julia, 1872-1957 1923-31

folder 5

O'Brien, F. A. 1930-31

folder 6

Ridgwell, William 1928-31

folder 7

Rossi, C. C. 1928-31

folder 8

Smith, J. W. 1928-31

folder 9-11

Thomson, John McGregor 1928-31

folder 12

Van Gordon, Ray 1930-31

Box 1, folders 13-22; Box 2; Box 3, folders 1-16

SERIES 2: INVOICES, 1921-1948.

Scope and Content Note


Arranged in four subseries by construction site in chronological order of work. Within each subseries, arranged alphabetically by company, and then chronologically within each folder.
Contained in the four subseries are invoices of various companies from whom James Rankin & Sons ordered on behalf of William Hearst. These provide information regarding material applied in the installations along with the size, type, and cost of the parts. Most invoices were issued between 1928 and 1931 when construction at Hearst Castle and Wyntoon Estate were at a peak.
Minimal records exist from the work at Jolon. Records of the three sites were kept separately from 1921 to 1931; from 1944 to 1948, work at Hearst Castle and Wyntoon Estate was billed together and this arrangement is retained.


Box 1, folder 13

A-Z, Miscellaneous companies 1927-31


American Radiator Company


B. H. Brunje


Braun-knecht-Heimann Company


Bryon Jackson Pump Manufacturing Company


California Motor Express, Ltd.


Coast Line Express


Dalziel-Moller Company


Downey Glass & Plant Company


Empire Foundry Company, Inc.


Enterprise Plating & Enameling Company, Inc.


Good Company of the Pacific, Inc.


Majestic Electric Appliance Company, Inc.


Montague Range & Furnace Company, Inc.


Mueller Company


M. Greenberg's Sons


Oakland Warehouse


Pacific Coast Aggregates, Inc.


Pacific Electric Railway Company


Philadelphia Quartz Company


Refinite Company


Railroad Express Agency


Sandoval Sales Company


South Coast Steamship Company


Union Pacific Railroad Company


Walworth California Company


Wesix Electric Heater Company


Woodin & Little

folder 14

A-Z, Miscellaneous companies 1936


Pacific Motor Transport Company


Valley Motor Line, Inc.


Wesix Electric Heater Company

folder 15

American Rubber Manufacturing Company 1928-30

folder 16

Berkeley Steel Construction Company, Inc. 1928-29

folder 17

C. F. Honeywell & Company 1927-30

folder 18

Clorox Company 1928-30, 1936

folder 19-20

Crane Company 1928-31

folder 21

Gladding, McBean & Company 1928-29, 1936

Box 2, folder 1-7

Grinnell Company of the Pacific 1921-36

folder 8

Holbrook, Merrill & Stetson 1927-29

folder 9-10

James Rankin & Sons 1928-37

folder 11

James Rankin & Sons payroll reports 1926-29

folder 12

Nelson Steamship Company 1928-30

folder 13

Plant Rubber & Asbestos Works 1928-29

folder 14

Rotary Oil Burner Company 1928-30

folder 15

S. T. Johnson Company 1928-30

folder 16

Valley & Coast Transit Company 1927-30

folder 17

Yager Sheet Metal Company 1928-30



Box 3, folder 1

A-Z, Miscellaneous companies 1928-33


American Radiator Company


American Railway Express Company


Atlas Heating & Ventilating Company, Ltd.


Berkeley Steel Construction Co., Inc.


Clorox Company


Coast Line Express


De Laval Steam Turbine Company


Forbes Supply Company


Good Company of the Pacific, Inc.


Holbrook, Merrill & Stetson


M. Greenberg's Sons


Oakland Building Material Company


Pacific Motor Transport Company


Refinite Company


S. T. Johnson Company


Sandoval Sales Company


Shand & Jurs. Company


Tay-Holbrook Inc.


Union Pacific Railroad Company

folder 2

American Rubber Manufacturing Company 1929-31

folder 3

C. F. Honeywell & Company 1929-30

folder 4

Crane Company 1929-33

folder 5

Grinnell Company of the Pacific 1928-30

folder 6

James Rankin & Sons 1928

Box 3, folder 7

James Rankin & Sons payroll reports 1929

folder 8

McCloud River Lumber Company 1928-30

folder 9

McCloud River Railroad Company

folder 10

Plant Rubber & Asbestos Works 1929-30

folder 11

Yager Sheet Metal Company 1929-30


JOLON, CALIF., 1930-1936

Box 3, folder 12

A-Z, Miscellaneous companies 1930-36


C. F. Honeywell & Company


Gladding, McBean & Company


Crane Company


Hoyt Heater Company


Plant Rubber & Asbestos Works



Box 3, folder 13-17

James Rankin & Sons 1944-48

Box 3, folders 17-20; Portfolio; Oversize folder 1

SERIES 3: MISCELLANY, ca. 1931-1991, n.d.

Scope and Content Note

Contains James Rankin's memoir about his contact with W. R. Hearst concerning plumbing installations. Clippings are largely focused on Hearst Castle at San Simeon, California. The portfolio contains three oversize magazines with articles devoted to Hearst Castle.
Box 3, folder 18

Reminiscence of James Rankin n.d.

Scope and Content Note

(re Hearst Castle)

CLIPPINGS, ca. 1931-1991.

Box 3, folder 19

Hearst Castle (Calif.) ca. 1950-88

folder 20

Morgan, Julia, 1872-1957 ca. 1958-91

folder 21

Rankin, James 1964

folder 22

Rossi, C. C. 1986

portfolio Portfolio, folder 1-2



Vol. 3, No. 5 May 1931


Vol. 12, No. 14 Oct. 1935

folder 3

Life Aug. 26, 1957


Vol. 43, No. 9

oversize-shelf Oversize Box 1, folder 1

Drawing of plumbing layout for the poultry farm at Hearst Castle n.d.