Sunday, 1 May 2016

the valley of heart’s delight

Rebecca Onion presents a fascinating look at the history of California through the lens of trade-mark applications, which the state introduced before their was any federal framework for branding and intellectual-property, in order to regulate the boom in commerce that came with the Gold Rush. Not only are the heraldic devices of private enterprise (drawn from some of the highlights that the brilliant BibliOdyssey, now mostly active on Twitter, curated) indicative of the wildlife that has been lost—grizzly bears and condors and the aboriginal populations expelled, but there are also subtle and not so subtle codes for supporting white labour over Chinese entrepreneurs for produce, tonics, cigars and other staples.
The post’s title refers to the original name of the San Francisco Bay area before the orchards and vineyards were displaced in the 1970s with the coming of Silicon Valley, whose inventive spirit probably owes a debt of gratitude to this trove of patent applications and the machinery behind it. One can browse the extensive digital archives here.