Throughout the main hallway in the Palace Hotel, there are various display cases with original artifacts from the hotel dating from 1909 up until the 1950s. The images on the right showcase the items that were displayed during my 2019 visit.
It is easy to search online and come across countless photographs, menus, letters, and other paper ephemera from the Palace Hotel. I tend to look past the ubiquitous artifacts and focus on those that were used in everyday life in the Palace. Such items I look for include original hotel fixtures, silver, keys and fobs, and among the most elusive - gold rimmed china and etched crystal from its dining room service.
I have come across many china pieces from the 1950s to the 1980s - many of which were likely sold off when the Sheraton-Palace held an auction to sell off most of the old furniture, fixtures and finery on February 22nd, 1989 during its renovation. Unfortunately, the more modern pieces do not appeal to me as much. Most of what I have been collecting dates from the original hotel up to the 40s. I often wonder if items such as the original gold service settings from the original Palace Hotel survived the fire (even if such settings were ever made?) Even if broken and salvaged by looters, where may some of these pieces be? The speculation that some of these
original items could still be out there is one more layer of fascination of the Palace Hotel that still lures me to search out every piece I can.
I suppose the only disappointing thing about the Palace today is the use of plain white china and unmarked silverware. I think it takes something away from the experience, though I can understand the reasoning - to prevent guests and collectors from absconding them as souvenirs. This seems commonplace for any hotel (historic or not) in the present day. On the random occasion, you can purchase reproduction items in the hotel gift shop. During my visit, I was collecting and purchasing what I could with the PH logo to add to my collection.
Another thing I find interesting (and annoying) regarding the hotel memorabilia trade in general is how prevalent the practice of "buying and reselling for a profit" is. A Palace Hotel key and fob for room #8055 sold on eBay for just under $100. The average price for this style is $50 to $150 depending on condition. The same key and fob was relisted a short while later on Etsy for a seriously unrealistic $495.00! The same went for a c1930s water pitcher I was bidding on to try and add to the collection. I was outbid at $400, which is where the approximate value stands. It was disheartening to find that the winning bidder wasn't a Palace Hotel collector and just relisted it on Etsy with a nearly 100% mark up of $775.00! Another example is a1909 silver water pitcher that was marked up by several hundred dollars - sold for $610 and reappeared days later for $895.00. These are just a few of the overpriced items I've seen listed there. It seems a good rule of thumb is do not buy anything from the Palace Hotel on Etsy, as the sellers just bought it elsewhere and marked it up a ridiculous amount to try and make a profit. Unless someone with deep pockets is desperate for a PH piece, these sellers will ever realize the amounts they are asking for. The upcharge on these was so high that I wanted to share what the actual value of these items are compared to the for-profit "value". Ironically, silverware from the Palace is the only item that you can get for reasonable rates, as there does not seem to be as much interest in it. Similarly, $5.00 menus are being listed for $75, $100 online, as I discuss under said tab.
The collection of Palace artifacts shown below is my personal collection that I only began after visiting in April of 2019. As I attempted to begin researching these pieces, I was unable to find much regarding their years of manufacture and timeline of use in the hotel. Hopefully by posting what I have come across, others will be able to piece more of the timeline together and learn from the hotel's past. If you are aware of information regarding any of these pieces, feel free to contact me through the home page.
There is not much online regarding the items used in the original 1875 Palace Hotel; I am sure almost all of them were destroyed in the 1906 fire. However, I know items are out there for a few reasons. Like any hotel, I am sure the original got rid of old items as they were replaced with new, whether it was through an auction or giveaways. Guests also likely absconded pieces throughout the years as souvenirs. Finally, after the fire, looters would've found intact pieces amid the rubble, as the china and silver rooms were in the basement and are known to have survived. After visiting the Palace in 2022, I learned that the hotel has a few items in its archives from the time of the earthquake - a bottle of 1906 champagne saved from the hotel, a spoon that was found in the fire, and original pieces of broken glass windows from the 1875 building. As time goes by, I have noticed pieces slowly creep into the market and I add them to the collection when I can.
So many items I find online are engraved with the name Palace Hotel, and listed as coming from the San Francisco hotel, but there are numerous Palace Hotels around the world. One such pattern has a crown on the front with Palace Hotel on the back. These come from the (Helmsley) Lotte New York Palace Hotel. Another silver teapot I've seen had an elaborate PH engraved on the front, but had "Palace Hotels" underneath, referring to those in France. Silver with "Property of the Palace Hotel Company" isn't necessarily from the Palace Hotel (unless marked as such), but it could also have been used in the Fairmont Hotel in the 1910s since the company owned both hotels.
The later silverware pattern used in the original Palace Hotel was made by Reed & Barton, patented on February 7, 1899. It was a fancier, vine style with The Palace Hotel engraved on the top handle named the "Royal" pattern. (I have also seen this online called the Cecil pattern - which it is actually, I do not know). Two examples of this pattern are in the form of a demitasse spoon and claw tongs (below). There are also two close-ups of the pattern on later dinner forks I have below right. The new Palace continued this pattern on silverware after 1909, which has been noted in period photographs. Last: Royal pattern silverware detail from two dinner forks.
Bronze Gorham Co. matchbox holder / ashtray with the PH logo on both sides. Unlike the one below, I have yet to see an image as to when this one was used. I am going to ballpark 1920s however, as the upper pattern is the same as on the silver hot chocolate server I have from 1917.
Original 1909 Palace Hotel brass door knob. As used in the hotel from 1909 to the present date. During our tour, I was told that as these have been breaking beyond repair, they are being replaced with more modern hotel lever handles - which is what our room had. Many of these can still be seen in the hallways of the hotel. This was my first acquisition from the Palace Hotel - and while I was at the hotel!
Three Palace Hotel keys and fobs, from the 1930s according to the display in the Palace with the same sets of keys. I find it interesting the contrast in condition between them even though they are from the same time period. All three fobs are different variations. One is marked on the front bottom: "Management Archibald H. Price". (Who was manager from c1934 to 1939. The middle has a dot and line design at the bottom. The new condition fob is blank at the bottom. The new key is for room #4045, the middle key is for room #452, and the stained key is room #3010. I have also seen the same fob with Manager Halsey E. Manwaring on it (1921 to 1932). This means this style of key fob was introduced in the late 1920s and used throughout the 1930s.
A room key and fob for room #7023, key stamped #81189. Made by Moise S.F. Based on the history of the above key, this set dates from the 1920s when the 1910s fob was still being used, but the newer locks and keys were being switched out.
Fine porcelain tray created to commemorate the opening of the New Palace Hotel on December 16, 1909. Made by Bauscher Brothers, Weiden, Germany. I currently have two of these in the collection.
Bauscher Weiden floral serving platter & salad plate. Made by Arthur Schiller and Son. Chicago, 1929. Especially made for Palace Hotel, San Francisco. Used from the 1930s well into the 1940s as shown by a photo of a dinner in the Rose Room dated 1946 with the same pattern on the table. For a time, this seemed to be the most ubiquitous china from the hotel that was available online. In 2022, the green striped china above took that title.
Two Palace Hotel glass carafes with stoppers, dates unknown - possibly 1920s/1940s. One is 11" tall, the other is 9" tall, both have the PH logo etched into the sides.
The only unfortunate part is each is slightly damaged by the previous owners. The large one has white spots all around the inside from a cleaning job gone wrong. I tried to correct it with countless solutions, but to no avail.
The owner of the smaller one did not want it known the piece came from the Palace and scratched out the words Palace Hotel on the logo.
Far Right: close-up of the larger carafe logo.
Original beaded crystal pendant piece from one of the Palace Hotel's chandeliers. I purchased this from a gentleman that worked as a houseman in the hotel in the early 1980s. He told me the night housemen used to be in charge of cleaning the 50+ chandeliers all throughout the hotel and several of these pieces ended up in the basement as spare parts in boxes soon forgotten. One interesting point he told me is that these were generally thrown in dishwashers to be cleaned and the chandeliers themselves were hosed down from time to time. In order to get a better image of it, it is on a glass carafe. The hotel historian told me these once belonged in the large floor chandeliers of the Garden Court, but they do not match the current ones. These must have been older pieces that were switched out at some point in time. The same teardrop pendants are shown in various Landmark 18 display cases.
Left: Almaden Brut California Champagne label. Selected by Frank Schoonmaker for the Palace Hotel. Produced and bottled by Almaden Vineyards, Los Gatos, Santa Clara, California. I have seen this champagne on a 1951 menu.
Below: Stationary from the Palace Hotel. 1920s-40s.
Below: Gold rimmed china used in the Palace Hotel from c1910s to the 1940s. I currently have four demi cups (1925 & 1927) and four saucers, dinner plate, two double-handle cups (1921), two side dishes, 2 small creamers, and a single serve teapot (1922). The earliest dated piece I've seen in this pattern was in the form of a compote bowl on a pedestal dated 1918, still manufactured by Buffalo China. Much simpler than the formal Gold Service, and used on a daily basis at the hotel. The photograph under the history page for the Mascot Copper Company Banquet - January 14th, 1912 appears to show these plates in use at the time as well, but it's hard to say for certain due to lack of detail. The last photo here was taken in the Garden Court in 1945 with the same china. For quite a while, I was under the impression these pieces were only used from the 1940s and 50s. As I learn more about the patterns, I have come to find out the hotel used several patterns together over several decades - the gold rim, green band, and floral patterns were all used simultaneously in the hotel through the 30s and 40s.
There are always pieces floating around out there, which makes me wonder if these were taken by guests, or sold at the 1989 auction. Now that I can check off owning some of the gold service pieces, my next goal is to find the gold PH hollow stem glassware to add to the collection.
Palace Hotel demi cup and saucer from the 1980s service set. There are many of these china sets out there for sale, however they do not come close to the beauty of the earlier pieces from the hotel. These are also the least valuable of the Palace china, worth maybe $5.00 a piece.
Did You Know?
On December 15th, 2009, the Palace Hotel celebrated it's 100 anniversary. The event involved the releasing of balloons - one of which contained the key and special fob pictured. Whoever finds the golden key will win a three day stay in Room 888, the Palace's Presidential Suite. This luxurious accommodation is where President Warren G. Harding died on August 1923. So far, the key has never been found and one can only imagine where it is out in the wilderness or under the waves of a body of water. If only I could come across it....
Palace Hotel Tourist Brochure
Halsey E. Manwaring - Manager
Trifold that was once attached to a photo album. The backside (not shown) still has album paper on it from when it was unmounted. 1920s
Palace Hotel receipt - Paid Feb 27th, 1953.
Palace Hotel Tourist Brochure
Halsey E. Manwaring - Manager
Trifold depicting the luxury and amenities of the Palace Hotel. Images include the Children's Nursery, Guest rooms, Palm Court, Rose Room, entrance, and Lobby.
Below: Tourist booklet for the Palace Hotel. Charles Stanley Sackett, Manager. I have been unable to find any dates for this manager, but I am assuming this is from the1960s.
This stunning silver water pitcher was created by Gorham for the 1909 reopening of the Palace Hotel. (Dated 1909 on the bottom). Etched with the PH hotel crest, it measures 1-" high and 9" across from spout to handle. I did a double take when I first saw it for sale, as this is the same water pitcher that the Palace Hotel had on display in the main hall when I was there. It can be viewed in the 5th photo at the top of this page, along with egg cups and silverware.
Another beautiful example of Palace Hotel silver. This one caught me by surprise because it is the first time I've seen the Palace Hotel crest and the words The Palace Hotel engraved under it. Silver insulated water jug made by Reed & Barton with the makers mark date of 1948 on the bottom. Measures in at 9" tall.
Palace Hotel Guest Room Soap
Dated February 22, 1945
on the back by hand.
Below: Three vintage Palace Hotel Luggage Stickers. Circa 1930s.
Right: Two PH matchbooks c1930s.
Bronze Gorham Co. matchbook / match holder for the Palace Hotel. Missing the well-known PH crest, which wasn't inluded at the time. Dated 1909 on the bottom and made for the grand reopening of the Palace Hotel that year. The last photo shows an original 1909 silver place setting / 1927 gold service setting for a photo op with the same matchholder in the middle bottom.
Palace Hotel dinner fork, knife, & spoons by Oneida Silversmiths. The pattern is named Clairhill-Fairhill and it was produced between 1978 and 2000.
The Palace still uses this pattern today, but the name Palace Hotel does not appear on any of the pieces. The only silver with The Palace Hotel I observed when I was there are the chip dishes at the Pied Piper and the teapots with a generic Palace Hotel stamp in the Garden Court. You never would've guessed the teapots were from the hotel if you didn't see them in use there.
Silverware created for the 1909 reopening of the Palace Hotel. From what I have been able to gather, the four pieces on the left are backmarked Pat. 1908, Gorham and these were made for the grand reopening of the hotel in 1909. They have a simpler end on them and have the Palace Hotel on the underside of each piece. (I also have a pair of silver Gorham tongs from 1909 not shown). The 3 pieces on the right are made by International Silver. The PH crest is on the front of all pieces, these having a more intricate scroll design and nothing on the back. These were made later on for the hotel, possibly in the 1910s or 20s.
Small silver creamer with the Palace crest on the front. Quite banged up, but still a nice piece. Made by Reed & Barton, NS 723, 3 Oz, with the silver mark for 1935 on the bottom.
Left: Paper and pencil holder compliments of the Palace Hotel. The pencil is wooden and there are no more paper pieces left inside. Halsey E. Manwaring, Manager. c1920s.
Right: Small 5" silver PH tray. Reed & Barton. Dated to the 1930s or 1940s. Has the PH logo stamped off center on the front and the plain script that appears on many pieces from these two decades. I have a 2nd with the logo in the center.
Palace Hotel silver teapot with PH crest and wooden handle. Made by Reed & Barton, with no dating symbol on the bottom means this is pre-1928. There is a 10 stamped into it, and it closely matches the 1909 silver pattern. I have also seen the same teapot but instead of the PH crest it has the script "Palace Hotel" like the piece below.
Two trinket dishes from the Palace Hotel from 1927. Features the blue PH crest and gold rim. Back stamped: Patent applied for, Made especially for Palace Hotel San Francisco by Bauscher Bros. New York & Weiden Germany. With the Bauscher Weiden stamped into the piece and the number 284 on the first. A 1935 photograph shows the second dish on a dresser at the hotel.
Another variation of china used in the Palace Hotel with the green PH crest and green rim.
I currently have a demi cup & saucer, creamer, small 5.5" dish, 9 3/4" platter, small scalloped dish, and cereal bowl.
The bottoms are marked Buffalo China, and the demi cup and saucer are dated 1925, the creamer 1921. I have seen these used in photos of the hotel throughout the 1930s.
Probably the most unique piece I have in the collection is a special order Krauss pewter ice cream mold for the Palace Hotel SF. Dated 1915, though it is missing the original top. The mold is specifically known as the Panama Cup. It was specially commissioned from Krauss in connection with The Panama–Pacific International Exposition world's fair held in San Francisco from February 20th to December 4th, 1915. The exposition's stated purpose was to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal, but it was widely seen in the city as an opportunity to showcase its recovery from the 1906 earthquake. This mold has the PH on the front and the crest birds on either side. It would've been a great way to promote the hotel with a mold so fancy. It also came with a small pear mold with a paper sale label for the PHSF.
Palace Hotel Door Stop. Large silver door stop measuring 4 5/8" high and 6" long. The PH crest is in a large format on the front. Palace Hotel is written on one side, and San Francisco is on the other. I would imagine these were used for the larger doors of the ballrooms, Rose Room, or Palm Court during the 1910s through1930s.
Beautiful sepia Palace Hotel brochure from the mid-1930s under A.H. Price. The favorite brochure of mine in the collection. I took this to the hotel in 2022 and photographed it several times in the Garden Court.
Below left to right: Cobalt blue Wheelock souvenir plate, pitcher, top hat toothpick holder, and single flower vase purchased at the original hotel. With gold trim, backmarked "Wheelock, Dresden, Germany." The last piece is a white dish with a faded gold band, backmarked, "Made in Germany for Chas. Brown & Son, San Francisco, Cal.
"Reproduction of Famous Painting by MAXFIELD PARRISH in Buffet. The Pied Piper. PALACE HOTEL, San Francisco." Medium sized paperweight with the famous painting above the bar in the Pied Piper. Date unknown.
Small Gorham & Co. silver tea strainer. Fits inside a demitasse cup, stamped with a sword, the Gorham marking for the year 1917.
Bath towel from the Sheraton Palace Hotel. The hotel had this name designation from 1954 to 1995, though it is likely this dates from the early 1990s.
Beautiful image of the PH crest on the one side, Sheraton Palace on the other.
Sheraton Palace Hotel swizzle stick. Brown with gold inlay.
Right: Palace Hotel Garden Court ashtray in green. The glass is yellowed from the years of handling cigarettes. Likely 1980s.
Far Right: Palace Hotel ashtray, blue lettering and logo. c1940s / 50s. Not from the Sheraton Palace days, but I wanted to place it with this ashtray.
Small souvenir dish with the Palm Court in a transfer picture on the front. Marked Bauscher Bros, New York and Weiden, Germany. Date unknown, but Bauscher Brothers were creating pieces for the hotel during the 1910s and 1920s.
A stunning 3 candle candelabra by Reed & Barton. Dated to 1947, and bottom marked Palace Hotel, these pieces were used for special events, banquets, and buffets. It has two of the original inserts for the candles at the top. One is missing.
The same style in 5 candle form can be seen in this vintage photograph of the Happy Valley Cocktail Lounge in the background. The Palace's single candlestick holders also have the same simple name marking on the bottom.
Another surviving piece I was able to find from the original San Francisco Palace Hotel was this small oyster fork that was salvaged from the rubble in 1906. Previously owned by a hotel historian in California, I jumped on this piece when I came across it. A silent reminder of the disaster that befell the city on April 18th, 1906. It is currently displayed with this original postcard of the burnt out shell of the hotel.
This matchbook holder is a confusing one. Made by Jas. M. Shaw, New York, this is the only non-china example I found the company made. The company operated from the late 1800s to early 1900s from what I could fine. Done in a beautiful art deco style, it appears it would belong to the original 1875 hotel, but the PH logo is the new 1909 hotel version. Definitely a difficult piece to place time wise - likely 1910s.
Sheraton Palace Hotel sewing kit. Complete and still sealed in its original plastic.
Palace Hotel Lobby Phone Book.
Manufactured May 7th, 1949, missing the original San Francisco phone book inside, but it retains 3 pages front and back of various advertisements and names of companies that supplied the Palace Hotel with various goods and services.
Silver butter dish / knife rest stamped with the Palace Hotel logo. Made by Gorham and dated 1909, this was made for the hotel's grand reopening and was part of the gold service china settings. The Palace released the above photo of its 1927 Gold Service settings on display with the 1909 silver. The same trays can be seen in the image.
Two porcelain Sheraton Palace bud vases. Gold PH logo on the front, Sheraton Palace and phone number on the back.
A key fob for the Palace Hotel, measuring 2.5". The front of the tag has the PH crest in the center and San Francisco at the bottom. On the reverse side is "Palace Hotel, Return Unsealed - We Guarantee Postage, San Francisco, Calif." It is believed these were made for the grand reopening in 1909. Likely manufactured by Moise & Klinker Co. S.F.
I've named this the bluebell pattern due to the bluebells and ribbon around the rim. While this piece was once as brilliant as the trinket dish above, it is no longer. This butter is a survivor of the 1906 earthquake and fire. The front is completely discolored, with soot and dirt fragments melted into the underside and rim. The china room was in the basement of the original hotel, which escaped the worst of the damages. This pat was likely sandwiched between others, protecting it from being completely destroyed.
Another identical butter pat from the same collection was back marked "Bauscher Bros, New York Factory: Weiden. Germany, 1905." After the hotel was rebuilt in 1909, the bluebell pattern was still used with the new PH logo (See archive photo on the right). Shortly afterwards, the hotel adopted different patterns for the 1910s as evidenced in photographs.
I currently own four plates and two bowls from The Palace Hotel's famous Gold Service which was used only on very special occasions. The service was fine Bavarian 'Black Knight' bone china made in 1927 by CM Hutschenreuther AG in Selb, Germany. It features a laurel leaf style pattern that has 14k gold bIended into the gold gilding.
What I originally found curious is that while this is referred to as the 1909 Gold Service in the lobby of the hotel, all of the pieces that I've seen are from 1927. All I could surmise is that for some reason, the Palace reordered its entire Gold Service china in 1927, but where were the 1909 pieces? I was unable to view the markings on the pieces in the lobby / Landmark 18 to see what the dates were, but they were certainly 1927. Black Knight only just began operating in 1925 (until 1941), so there was no way they also made the original gold service settings.
The answer hid within the large photograph "Banquet in the Garden Court for the reopening of the 'New' Palace Hotel" in Landmark 18. It was detailed enough that I was able to look closely at the china on the tables. As it turns out, the place settings used for the 1909 reopening were a different pattern than this, and it appears it had the PH crest in a dark blue unless the gold photographed very dark. What really surprised me is that the Palace Hotel doesn't even seem to have an example from 1909, as there were none anywhere in the hotel on display! I also have never seen one anywhere online, which truly makes it rare. It makes me wonder what happened to it all!? The original Palace had 100 sets of Gold Service china that were destroyed in the fire. Were there only limited sets made of this china as well? The photograph would suggest otherwise as I counted almost 400 people in the image, and it's obvious many more were cut out of it. I would assume that by 1927 when the new Gold Service was ordered, the original settings were lost, broken, taken as souvenirs, or worse - thrown out!
The Gold Service below is specific to 1927 and not from 1909. While several examples of silver are around from 1909, the china remains illusive. I hope to one day come across a piece to add to the collection online. The last three photos are a mock formal dinner setting with all of the Palace Hotel pieces I currently have in my collection.
Palace Hotel Happy Valley / Pied Piper Napkin.
The Palace Hotel, San Francisco
Archibald H. Price, Manager
Matchbook holder / ashtray.
1934 - 1940.
Right: Palace Hotel glass mug. Post-Sheraton Palace, dating between 1995 and 2015. Original barcode on the bottom, so a souvenir of the hotel's gift shop.
Far Right: Standard coffee mug from the Palace Hotel in green & gold. M Ware, China.
Another piece of chandelier from the Palace Hotel. Purchased from Carol, who was in charge of the cleaning and maintenance of their chandeliers 30 years ago - 1990s. She had this piece for quite some time, but did not remember which chandelier it came from. The historian at the hotel told me the crystal bell did not match any chandeliers in the hotel pre or post renovation, but the beading matches what is used in the Gold Ball Room. It is possible this belonged to another hotel Carol worked at and got the two confused.
It is not often that I come across an artifact from the hotel that still retains its history like this does.
Born in 1882, John McGinnis Williams was the first manufacturer of plywood in Queensland, Australia. In 1918 when the war was over he decided to visit plywood mills in Oakland, California to research improvements for his manufacturing processes. He left Australia by the ship Ventura and arrived at San Francisco in January 1919. His accommodation was none other than the Palace Hotel! Upon his departure, he forgot to return his hotel key. A few weeks later, he returned to Australia on the Ventura via Honolulu and Pago Pago. At the same time the Spanish Flu arrived. From Sydney he travelled by train but was stopped at the New South Wales/Queensland border and quarantined for 7 days. Eventually, the Palace Hotel key and fob below ended up in Brisbane, Australia. After his passing, the key and fob went to his daughter, Julie, through which I purchased it in 2021. She was kind enough to share her father's story and photos of him as well. While I am not always certain that Palace keys and fobs belong together or were changed out over the years, it is certain that this is the exact set that was used in 1919. The only mystery is that there is no room number listed, and the key is awfully small, which makes me wonder if it wasn't used for another room. I took this piece back to the hotel in 2022 and photographed it throughout the rooms and Garden Court.
Photo No. 1: Wallangarra Quarantine Station on the border of New South Wales and Queensland (Possibly with the key in his pocket in this image). John had to share a tent with three other people. He is the one seated on the ground with the pipe. Note the souvenirs displayed on the tent.
Photo No. 2: The hydroplane 'Century Tire' that John McGinnis Williams had shipped to Australia from Chicago in 1923. John won the Griffith Australasian Championship Cup in 1924 and 1925 with Century Tire.
Palace Hotel Brass Luggage Tags - #38 & #217 with the original leather strap. c1880s. The only way I knew these were from the PHSF is due to Bruce Cooper's website.
On June 1st, 1898, General Arthur MacArthur received word he was to be assigned to the Philippines as one of the leading generals. The planning for this campaign began in the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Rooms 170 and 172 were used for the state military headquarters on the first floor. After training, he and his brigade sailed across the Pacific on June 26th, 1898.
The next time the MacArthur family would visit the Palace Hotel would be for President Roosevelt’s visit in May of 1903. General Arthur MacArthur was a guest at the president’s golden banquet and a young Douglas was also in attendance. The hotel would become their home for the next several days. During one of these visits, this Palace Hotel key and fob for Room 315 left the hotel in one of their pockets or luggage trunks as a souvenir. It was also the last known time the MacArthur’s would stay in the original hotel before the 1906 earthquake and fire.
Throughout the early 20th century, General Douglas MacArthur would visit the new Palace Hotel several times, along with his personal clerk E.R. "Curley" Vadeboncoeur, who he became very close with. Vadeboncoeur would serve with MacArthur throughout World War 2 as a journalist and afterwards, he became the General Manager of WSYR Radio and Television Operations. His daughter, Joan E. Vadeboncoeur, was a famous entertainment columnist for the Post-Standard. The Vadeboncoeurs often rubbed elbows with the rich and famous of the 1900s. E.R. also belonged to the secretive Bilderberg Group in Europe.
When Douglas MacArthur passed away in 1964, many of his belongings, including this key and fob, went to Vadeboncoeur. It remained in his collection until his death in 1986, where his belongings stayed with his sister Joan until her death in 2011. Without any children or close relatives, the estate of Joan and E.R. “Curley” were auctioned off by Magees Auction House in Syracuse, New York where they had lived.
One lot included three items: The original Palace Hotel key and fob for Room 315, and two leather Bilderberg pouches with a metal signature plate of Vandeboncoeur’s name and key to an unknown bank safe deposit box. This, among other lots, was purchased by a gentleman just down the road. As he was looking into the history of the Palace Hotel, he came across my website and after lengthy discussions about its history, I was able to purchase it for the online Palace Hotel collection. It also came with E.R.'s Bilderberg leather pouch and signature plate.
Unfortunately, any paperwork that may corroborate this story has been lost to time and the current information I have is within the email conversations I've had with the previous owner. Online auction records show one other key and fob like this for room 127, which sold in April of 2021, but did not give any other information. Still, it is a fascinating piece of history with a story to match! Any new information I find will be posted here.
Palace Hotel Silverware Set of 4, c1930s. Picked up at an estate sale and the back story is either the lady's father or grandfather was a San Francisco garbage man and after high end dinner events these were accidentally thrown away with the trash! He would find these in the trash when picking up from the hotel and save them to take home. Also shows my pre-1909 butter knife on the far right. Photographed these on my table so they would stand out more than on a white background.
A crystal pear and leaves - which once hung on one of the chandeliers in the Rose Room in the Palace Hotel. An original 1909 piece! Purchased from Carol, who was in charge of the cleaning and maintenance of their chandeliers 30 years ago - 1990s. Photographs of the Rose Room chandeliers and the same piece in the Landmark 18 museum collection, April 2022. As far as Palace Hotel memorabilia goes, this is one of the rarest pieces there is!
An 11" silver oyster plate by Gorham Manufacturing Co. Dated 1909 and made for the grand reopening of the Palace Hotel. It has a great deal of scuffing and some silver loss inside the oyster cups, but it polished up beautifully!
A Reed & Barton silver dish for the Palace Hotel. The difficulty in dating pieces such as this is that Reed & Barton didn't date their silver pre-1928. Based on what I've seen, this script and style was used in the original Palace Hotel - though at what point I do not know. Likely c1900. The new Palace is not known to ever have used this pattern of silver, but it almost matches the pattern of silverware above.
Graduation card for San Francisco School of Nursing, Class of 1926. The photo is of Edna Claxton and her invitation to a reception at the Concert Hall of the Palace Hotel is still attached.
A small Reed & Barton silver cup, pre-1928 since it is lacking any markings. An interesting thing about this piece is that it is missing the "Fra" in Francisco at the bottom. I was gifted this piece while at the Palace Hotel in 2022.
Large wine glass that was once used in the Tudor Room, showing the crest on the front. c1960s.
Right: A Raymond's Vacation Excursions card c1880 / 1890s. Mr. W.H. Anderson and Miss Francine Anderson in Room 142.
Far Right: Embossed white postcard for the old Palace Hotel created just before the new one was finished. Postmarked February 15th, 1909.
Cashed check to the Palace Hotel, San Francisco from Hotel El Rancho Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Bank of Nevada, April 9th, 1954 for $28.43.
A stunning Palace Hotel trinket dish from the original 1875 building. Backmarked "Especially made for PALACE HOTEL SAN FRANCISCO by Bauscher Bros. New York & Weiden, Germany. Reg U.S. Pat Off.
This pattern is known to have been used c1900 to 1906. Once the new 1909 hotel was built, the same pattern with the new PH logo was used briefly.
Palace Hotel Reed & Barton silver dish. Dated 1951, these are still in use today at the hotel for serving chips in The Pied Piper and the Garden Court.
Palace Hotel Souvenir Silk Scarf. 34.5" made by Swiss Silk Co. Designs. Printed in Korea. Date unknown, but likely 1980s or 1990s.
A silver Gorham & Co. coffee creamer with the 1909 date mark on the bottom. Still retains so much of its beauty, but the inside was difficult to clean and still has blackened areas. It always amazes me how the inside of silver gets more tarnished than the outside.
c1910 copy of the Palace Courier. A great informational booklet with information about the new hotel, guests who are staying there, and other news. It also has fantastic pictures of what the hotel looked like when it was brand new.
Palace Hotel Tourist Brochure
Halsey E. Manwaring - Manager
Beautiful color bruchure with a racing motorcar on the front and a horse caravan on the back. Interior, "At the end of the trail stands the historic Palace Hotel." 1920s.
Palace Hotel Cocktail Napkin - 1950.
Palace Hotel Tourist Brochure, c1940s to 1950s. Edmund A. Rieder, General Manager.
Sheraton Palace Hotel Ashtray. Mint condition!
Right: The earliest known silverware used in the Palace Hotel, c1875-1890. A simple, non-patterned oyster fork with the elaborate "Palace Hotel" engraved on the handle. Made by Reed & Barton. Landmark 18 has a spoon of the same style recovered from the 1906 ruins.
A beautiful and unusual piece - a hot chocolate server from the Palace Hotel. Measuring in at 6-3/4" tall and 7-1/2" wide to the end of the handle. Manufactured by International Silver Company with a date mark of 1917. (ISC dates are the numbers in the small boxes on the bottom).
This piece was acquired from the estate of Robert Yuen, a fourth generation San Franciscan, and a lifelong collector of hotelware. In September of 2022, his collection was sold off and many pieces appeared online for sale.
This is one of those pieces that was hidden within hundreds of antique bottles at an auction house in Texas, and I was thrilled to have spotted it!
A c1909 to 1920/1930s (based on Prohibition) Palace Hotel bar liquor bottle. A few small white marks on the inside, but such a beauty with ornate cuttings! Measuring 11 3/4" high, 3" at the base and 1" at the opening. The etched PH logo is a large 2" tall! I would assume there was a glass stopper at one point in time, but I do not know.
A medium-sized vase from the Palace Hotel in the same pattern as above. 4.25" tall, 2.5" across at the top.
Marked Bauscher China, Made in Weiden-Germany. Reg. U.S. Pat. Off. Arthur Schiller & Son. Chicago 1934.
Made especially for the Palace Hotel, San Francisco.
Individual Palace Hotel silver coffee creamer and sugar bowl.
The creamer is bottom marked International Silver Soldered, Palace Hotel, 05007A, 1 1/2 OZ, dated 1947.
The sugar bowl is bottom marked International S. Co. - E.P. - N.S., Silver Soldered. 040, 6 OZ, dated 1949. Unfortunately, the words "The Palace Hotel" are barely legible.
Finally, matchbox holder / ashtray I can date! Measuring in at 6" wide, 3 3/4" high, likely made by Gorham Co. as well. The top is the same as the one above, but circular and less designed at the bottom. The last photo here shows the same piece on a table at the Palace in 1935.
This piece was originally acquired from the estate of Robert Yuen, a fouth generation San Franciscian, who had an extensive Palace Hotel collection.