With our new pal Rebecca Weinstein as our guide, Alfonso and I visited with collector and historian John Weiss at his Piedmont home this weekend, and had our minds blown.
John is a bicycle enthusiast, collector of CA Gold Rush-era and early 20th Century photos and ephemera, and all-around fascinating and generous person who invited us into his home to explore his collection and its potential connection with our research for Glorious Ravage.
He has photos, paintings, magazine covers, cigar box labels, prints, posters, engravings, stereoviews of people riding every kind of bike that has existed since the early 1800s… and also provided photos and research for Annie Londonderry’s biography that Alfonso and I latched onto early in our research.
Alfonso was giddy with all the bike imagery and history. Most compelling to me was John’s collection of “pictorial letter sheets” from the Bay Area around 1850… basically, printed letter-writing stationery that came with gorgeous, meticulous engravings of maps, scenes of Gold Rush towns and mining life.
Some of the maps and texts are so fascinating, I am inspired to use them in one of the songs for this piece, as lyrics and as visual information to inform a musical graphic score.