Industrial antiques, fridge magnets, history...

Monday, August 15, 2011

A. J. Plate, San Francisco Arms Dealer

1864 advertisement for
A. J. Plate's San Francisco store.

A. J. Plate, San Francisco's most famous 19th century arms dealer

Herman Adolph Joseph Plate's place in history was secured when he lost a patent infringement lawsuit over the Deringer pistol.
Herman Adolph Joseph Plate

Plate Becomes Naturalized
US Citizen in 1844.

Born in Borghorst, Germany (one of the villages merged in 1975 to create Steinfurt), Plate immigrated to New York in 1836.  A cabinet maker, he and two of his five brothers built a furniture business in New York.  

Augusta Agness Tolle
In 1849 Adolph started a family with Augusta Tolle, with whom he would raise 4 children.  Later that year, after a series of three fires destroyed the furniture business, Plate became one of the Gold Rush Forty Niners.  While his wife and infant son, Henry, remained in New York, Adolph headed for California to work the gold mines.  In May of 1850, when he had accumulated a small stake, his family followed him to San Francisco, their household belongings sent via the U. S. Mail Steamship Company, and Adolph opened his first San Francisco store.

That first store was modest, consisting of an outdoor stand where he sold ammunition and used pistols.  Those were boom town years for San Francisco, with the population growing from 200 in 1846 to over 36,000 in 1852.