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California Hunting & Fishing Licenses – Part Five

In order to become more efficient, in 1915 the Board of Fish and Game Commissioners divided California into districts with each commissioner being responsible for one district. Also in 1915, the Department of Commercial Fisheries was established. This separated the administration and regulation of commercial fishing from sport fishing.

As this concerned sport fishing, it allowed for an increased emphasis to be placed on the continued development of fish hatcheries (and egg collecting stations) around California and in western Nevada. In 1916 and 1917, no fewer than seven new hatcheries were installed and opened:


Yuba River Shad Hatchery… Yuba City, Sutter County

Marlette-Carson Hatchery… Carson City, Nevada

Almanor Hatchery… below Lake Almanor Dam, Plumas County

Domingo Springs Hatchery… Chester, Plumas County

Fort Seward Hatchery… Alderpoint, Humboldt County

Forest Home Hatchery… Forest Home, San Bernardino County

Mount Whitney Hatchery… Independence, Inyo County


One of these, the Mount Whitney Hatchery, would play an indispensable role in the preservation of California’s state fish – the golden trout.



Halpin Litho Company

Starting in 1916, a new lithography company, Halpin Litho, was selected to produce California’s fishing licenses, for three consecutive years (1916-1918). This was an unprecedented event in the pictorial license period and one that would never be repeated. 

My research showed the earliest mention of the company was in 1913. In 1914 the Halpin Litho Company was incorporated to “do a printing and lithograph business” and capital stock in the amount of $25,000.00 was issued; 250 shares at $100.00 each. The place of business was listed as San Francisco.

They were located at 442 Sansome Street; were bookbinders and printers that specialized in fruit crate labels, bank notes (for France), stock certificates, maps and paychecks (see Figure 1). They were contracted to do a limited amount of work for the PPIE, consisting of a birds eye view and some letterheads for the exposition committee.



Figure 1. Fruit crate label produced by Halpin Litho.



This was all well and good, but how could a relatively new company come out of nowhere and become the only one to be awarded a state license contract for three consecutive years – a feat never before accomplished?


Eventually I discovered Halpin’s first name – George – and that led me a federal court case where he gave a deposition in 1903. In the deposition he stated his full name, George H. Halpin, his place of residence, San Francisco, and his occupation… Manager for Britton & Rey Lithographers!

I then checked through all of the San Francisco Directories that I could locate from this time period. In the 1896 and 1897 directories, George H. Halpin was listed as the bookkeeper for Britton & Rey. Starting in 1899 and continuing through 1913, he was listed as the manager for Britton & Rey and starting in 1916, the general manager for Halpin Litho.

So, it is now apparent that Britton and Rey’s final years, 1913-1915, were turbulent. At the same time they were producing the iconic images discussed in part four – their manager, George H. Halpin, left the company to go into business for himself. He obviously took his business relationships with him and this enabled his new company to able to land the state contracts.

The 1916 California resident fishing license features a creel with fish pouring out, crossed rods and a net. It was printed in black and salmon ink on white paper (see Figures 2 and 3). The alien license was printed in black and a light blue-green ink on white paper (see Figure 4).



Figure 2. 1916 California resident anglers license from the sheet format. Note Halpin Litho imprint located at bottom center.



Figure 3. 1916 California resident anglers license from a booklet.



Figure 4. 1916 California alien anglers license.



The 1916-17 California hunting licenses were once again lithographed by Mysell-Rollins. The resident license features a close-up view of a pair ducks in a marsh setting. The licenses were printed in black and a variety of shades of a salmon-brown ink on white paper (see Figures 5-8). For obvious reasons, this license is a favorite with waterfowl stamp collectors.



Figure 5. 1916-17 California resident hunting license from the sheet format. Mysell-Rollins imprint located at lower left.



Figure 6. An unusual example produced with more of a bronze colored ink.



Figure 7. A third example that had black ink mixed with the red serial number.



Figure 8. 1916 California resident hunting license from a booklet.



The Mount Whitney Fish Hatchery

When construction of new fish hatcheries was discussed in the early 1900s, it created tremendous competition between communities. Sites considered for the Mt Whitney Hatchery included Tuttle Creek west of Lone Pine, Bishop Creek west of Bishop, Oak Creek west of Independence and a site in San Bernardino County. Of these, Oak Creek was considered to be near ideal for three reasons:

1) the 40 acre site was to be a gift to the state from local citizens; 2) there was guaranteed use of water from Oak Creek and 3) and perhaps most important – the temperature of the water was better suited to fish production than the other sites.

Once the site was selected, the building was designed by a team of six men led by Charles Dean of the State Department of  Engineering. Fish and Game Commissioner M. J. Connell instructed the team “To design a building that would match the mountains, would last forever, and be a showpiece for all time.”  The architectural style they chose is Tudor Revival (see Figure 9).



Figure 9. The Mt, Whitney Fish Hatchery, located outside of Independence. This image is from a period postcard.



Construction was started in late March of 1916 with the goal of completing the project in time to receive eggs in the spring of 1917. When completed, Superintendent F.A. Shelby stated “The Mount Whitney Fish Hatchery is the largest and best equipped fish hatchery in California and… has a yearly capacity of 2 million fry.”

The first trout hatched in 1917 were eggs collected at Rae Lakes. The eggs were transported from the collecting station at Rae Lakes via Baxter pass by mule train to the Hatchery. The spawning season of 1918 saw the first collection of golden trout eggs from the Cottonwood Lakes. Once hatched, the fry were trucked to the local train station, where they were transported throughout the state (see Figure 10).



Figure 10. One of the Mt. Whitney trucks used to transport trout fry to the train station.



This program continues to this day and has provided golden trout for planting throughout the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. The Mt. Whitney Hatchery operation is the sole source of golden trout eggs in California (see Figures 11 and 12).



Figure 11. Catch of golden trout from Piute Creek, the the only stream that flows year round in the Mojave National Preserve. Photo circa 1940s-1950s.



Figure 12. A recent photo of the California state fish – the beautiful golden trout!



The second of the Halpin Litho licenses, the 1917 California citizen (resident) anglers, features the Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery in black and powder blue ink on white paper (see Figures 13 and 14). The earliest recorded California duplicate license occurs on an overprinted version of the same design. A duplicate license was issued at a reduced fee upon affidavit by the licensee that the original was lost or stolen. The overprint is in red ink and the serial number has a “D” prefix (see Figure 15). The 1917 alien anglers license was printed in black and light green ink (see Figure 16).

All examples that I have examined from the upper and lower positions of the sheet type licenses have crop marks printed close to the image. This resulted in licenses with relatively small margins around the design. In 1917, the top and bottom margins on the booklet type license in Figure 14 shows the perforations. This suggests that the licenses were first printed in a sheet type format and then subsequently cut into single license booklet panes.



Figure 13. 1917 California citizen anglers license from the sheet format. Note the printers crop marks are visible at the upper right. This resulted in relatively small margins.



Figure 14. 1917 California citizen anglers license from a booklet. Note the perforations are visible at the top and bottom.



Figure 15. Citizen anglers license overprinted “Duplicate License”. Note that the serial number is preceded by a large “D”.



Figure 16. 1917 California alien anglers licenses. Note the crop marks at the upper and lower right.



On the 1917 alien license, crop marks are visible at the upper and lower right. Further, the crop marks are different and suggest that the alien booklet panes were also cut from from a larger sheet format that was previously printed. In this scenario, the license in Figure 16 would be from the upper position on the page or sheet – position one.



A. Carlisle & Co.

A new firm, A. Carlisle & Co., was selected to produce the 1917-18 California hunting licenses. While the name may have been new, the subsidiary that lithographed the licenses was not. In 1916, A. Carlise and Co. purchased what remained of Britton & Rey and merged it with their own operations. That is to say, what remained of Britton & Rey after George Halpin and part of the company had already left to form Halpin Litho.

Albert Carlisle was born in 1854 in Baltimore, Maryland (see Figure 17). When he was a young boy he dreamed of being a sailor. When he turned 16, he left home to sign on with a sailing ship of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. The steamship company had been formed by a group of New York businessmen who had acquired the right to transport mail for the U.S, government from New York to San Francisco.



Figure 17. Albert Carlisle, founder of A. Carlisle & Co.



After two years, Carlisle decided the sea was not for him. One day he got off to stay in San Francisco for good. He went to work for H.H. Bancroft & Co., importers and stationers. By 1878 (then 24 years old) he had saved enough money to go into business for himself. Carlisle started his own stationary business at 212 Battery Street. In the beginning, he was a one man show, selling stationary to a small group of customers by mail. He managed to survive difficult years in the late 1870s and throughout the 1880s (the Comstock Load had collapsed and resulted in financial ruin for many S.F businessmen) and by the 1890s he had built up a “thriving business”.

When Albert Carlisle died in 1904, management of the company passed to his son, Burlington Carlisle, better known as B.M. Burlington was trained from the bottom up – starting as an errand boy. He was disciplined and had developed a strong work ethic and sense of purpose that would serve him well. Within 18 months of his father’s death, the firm’s premises burnt to the ground in the fire of 1906.

In all the confusion, B.M. saved the company records which allowed him to rebuild quickly (this was one of the main problems at Britton & Rey – all their records were lost and it had a crippling effect). After the earthquake, the company immediately started up again at 1128 Mission Street. Three years later, B.M. moved the company to larger headquarters at 251 Bush Street, in the commercial and industrial center of the rebuilding city.

As business increased, B.M. guided A. Carlisle through a series of acquisitions and mergers, including the Hayden Printing Company and Britton & Rey Lithographers, that left the company as one of the leaders in the graphics arts industry in the western United States.


The 1917-18 California resident hunting license features a hunter with his dog at the right side and a California valley quail incorporated into the border at the top right (somewhat reminiscent of the classic 1914-15 Mysell-Rollins design). The licenses were lithographed in black and shades of a pale brown ink on white paper (see Figures 18, 19 and 20). Recently, a proof for the non-resident license turned up on Ebay. The non-resident license was produced in black and light blue ink on white paper (see Figure 21).



Figure 18. Proof for the 1917-18 California resident hunting license.. Note the proof is imperforate and lacks a serial number. The A Carlisle & Co. imprint is located at the bottom center.



Figure 19. 1917-18 California resident hunting license from the sheet format.



Figure 20. 1917-18 California resident hunting license from a booklet.



Figure 21. Proof for the 1917-18 California non-resident hunting license.



The First Trapping License is Issued

In 1917, the Board of Fish and Game Commissioners desired to protect fur-bearing mammals. This resulted in California issuing its first trapping license via Act 1340J:


“An act to provide for the protection of fur-bearing mammals, defining fur-bearing mammals, providing for a license for hunting or trapping such fur-bearing mammals and requiring reports to be filed with the fish and game commissioner.”  Approved May 18, 1917.


The act is long. Sections 4, 5 and 6 may be of particular interest to collectors.


Section 4 pertains to trapping without a license:


“Every person in the state of California who traps for profit any fur bearing mammals without first procuring a license therfor as provided by this act is guilty of a misdemeanor.”


Section 5 pertains to the licenses themselves:


“Licenses granting this privilege to trap for profit any fur-bearing mammals shall be issued by the state board of fish and game commissioners, who shall prepare suitable licenses of convenient size and form and have printed theron the words, trapping license No,––, state of California. Expires June 30, 19––, with registration number and appropriate year printed or stamped theron, which said license shall be prepared by the state board of fish and game commissioners, which board shall account for same to the controller of the state.”


Section 6 pertains to fees:


“Licenses herein provided for shall be issued as follows: (1) To any citizen of the United States upon payment of one dollar; (2) To any person not a citizen of the United States upon payment of two dollars; provided, however, that every person eighteen years of age or under by applying to the state board of fish and game commissioners and complying with the provisions of section four of this act, may obtain a license without the payment of any fee.”


This means that someday a California alien trapping license may turn up! The 1917-18 California resident trapping license was non-pictorial and printed in black ink on white paper. The reverse contains an extract from [the] Trapping License Law (see Figures 22 and 23). There is nothing to indicate who the printer was.



Figure 21. Obverse of 1917-18 California trapping license.



Figure 22. Reverse of 1917 California trapping license.




Continue to part Part Six


1 Comment

  1. Brian on September 21, 2019 at 9:49 am

    People on your newsletter must love you. This content is pure 100 gold

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