Original mortgage document made between Robert P. Chase and inventor Egbert Putnam Judson on August 1, 1856 for the purchase of “that certain parcel of land situated in the city of San Francisco near the Mission Dolores … commencing at a point on the south west side of Valencia street, sixty five feet from the corner of Sparks and Valencia streets, running thence northerly on Valencia street sixty-five feet, thence westerly and parallel with Sparks street five hundred + sixty feet, to Guerrero street – thence southerly on the line of Guerrero street sixty five feet, thence easterly + parallel with Sparks street, one hundred and sixty five feet to the place of beginning, being the same premises known as the San Francisco Chemical Works.” The initial agreement was for the sum of $2500; however, a holographic addenda on the verso, dated September 20, 1858 and signed by both Judson and Chase, records an outstanding balance of $3,275.
Printed on one quarter of a 16 ½ x 13 ½” sheet which folds to roughly 3 ½” x 8 ¼”. In addition to holographic addenda, a blue paper onlay signed by notary Charles Halsey appears on the verso, along with a holographic notation by George F. Kohler, Deputy County Controller. The document is creased from prior folds, with some minor soiling to two outer panels.
A native of Syracuse, New York, Egbert Putnam Judson (1812-93) traveled to San Francisco in 1850 to try his luck in the mines. He is said to have founded the first assay works in San Francisco in 1852, and was a principal organizer of the San Francisco Chemical Works (later Judson & Sheppard). His interest in the manufacture of acids led to experiments with explosives and in August 1867, three pounds of dynamite were made at his plant and used in a trial blast of boulders. This was the first instance of the manufacture and use of dynamite in the United States after the invention of that explosive by Alfred Nobel in 1866. The trial was so successful that it led to the formation of the Giant Powder Company the same month.
Judson, a director of the Giant company, continued to operate the San Francisco Chemical Works which supplied acid to the Giant company and soon thereafter formed the Judson Powder Company in Kenvil, New Jersey. On June 3, 1873, he patented his "Giant Powder, No. 2" (patent no. 139,468), which was manufactured successfully by both companies. Essentially the first high explosive blasting powder to supplant gunpowder, "Giant powder" was for a long time a synonym for dynamite in the United States. Judson was the first to meet the need for an explosive which, though powerful, would be more "gentle" in action than a blasting powder, producing a heaving rather than a shattering effect. Later, in 1882 he founded the Judson Manufacturing Co., building bridges and structural steel with machine shops, foundry and pattern shops, and bolt and nut shops. The company had operations in Emeryville and Oakland, California, respectively. Item #73807