Monday, March 7, 2011

Old Sacramento signs, part 3

A miner watches an assayer weigh his week's work.
The last in this batch of signs helping visitors around Old Sacramento. This guides visitors to another hole in the ground, like Pioneer Park, except this one is bricked in and turned into an oddly alluring (nice blog here, by the way, including shots of Pioneer Park) set of shops and nooks and crannies. Visitors can easily see the brick vaulted arches that held up the sidewalks when the city was raised out of the flood waters. These have French doors built into the shape, creating enclosed spaces beneath the sidewalk, though for what I'm not quite sure. This site is officially called Pioneer SQUARE. Yeah I know, confusing.

It was the site of a bath house, saloon, brothel (though, what place wasn't the site of a brothel or saloon in early Sacramento?) and, most important for those and other enterprises, it was where Prof. Lauriet opened his assay office. Miners brought their gold (in chunks or dust, what have you) and Prof. Lauriet weighed and assigned a dollar value to the find.

Miners could either buy goods and services directly in gold, or exchange it for coin which, ironically, came to less than the gold they brought in (kind of like winning the lottery and settling for a lesser lump sum while the state got its cut in taxes); the banks and exchanges loved this fact.

This site will not feature the large "gateway" signs of Waterfront and Pioneer parks in Old Sacramento. Boo!
The office in extended view, to accommodate the arch shape. The hardware on the small drawers
to the assayer's right were altered in the final step to look a tad more Victorian with a coupla curlicues.
Here's how this process played out:
This captured the right composition, though some details are not resolved;
for example, shouldn't we see the miner's face?
This is a little too composed, more art than documentation, though the gaunt miner,
suggesting toothlessness, turned out well. He's eager to learn the result. The clients wanted
a pick in the picture, but I'm skeptical whether a miner would have brought it with him from the foothills,

like a carrying card. The scale became a challenge — many were behemoths, perfect for the exact measure
of gold, but rotten for this illustration. I had to research scales that would have
sufficed without sacrificing the assay office's veracity.
No, this miner's just too Gabby Hayes.
The composition is better, though the assayer's face is tangled in the scale.
The miner in profile, which the clients preferred. He needed to be gaunt and scruffy,
just not like the '49ers who appears in logos and legend. 

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