Leonard Clawson had several 19th c. patents for chimneys that mostly related to safety improvements. The Comstock House contract specs twice require "Clawson patent[s]" be used, and it's even fully written out on the blueprints. While Jones often specifies products that are trademarked or patented, this is the only time where "patent" is routinely used as part of the name.

On page 5, Jones specifies "Clawson patent arch bars" be used on the two fireplaces. Clawson's arch bar (1893 patent 502901) was a slightly curved metal bar that kept the fireplace shell snugly attached to the flue. Any gap between the two parts could lead to a house fire if sparks reached the plaster/lathe inner wall surrounding the chimney.

The specification, "Clawson patent 6 [inch] T.C. flues, with Galv. I. jackets where shown" is confusing because several things are being described in builder's shorthand. Jones was directing that both chimneys be constructed using one of Clawson's flue designs (presumably the 1890 patent 435557 for a flue with interlocking sections of terracotta pipe). The reception hall fireplace uses the main chimney, which was also shared with the kitchen stove. The galvanized iron stovepipe, connecting the kitchen with this chimney, can be seen by peeking through the unfinished kitchen spice cabinet. Note that Clawson's mailing label is still attached.

Clawson continued inventing well into the 20th century, bless 'im. He was awarded a 1901 patent (679666) for a chimney smoke condenser to reduce air pollution, and shared a 1921 patent (1370880) for a "deafening attachment for automobiles." Offices for L.E. Clawson & Co., Patent Chimneys and Sewer Pipe were at 1340 Market Street, San Francisco.

The only mention of paint color in the contractor specifications is on page 19, which directs the dining room be painted with "old gold" tint. According to the Modern Painter's Cyclopedia (1910,1918), the formula for Old Gold was "White lead for base; add medium chrome yellow, French ochre and a little burnt umber." The Wikipedia entry has additional information and identifies it as the color seen to the right.

Directions for the Finishing Coat on page 18 specifies "Alpine Plaster," which was the name of a Los Angeles-based company. An 1890 Univ. of California analysis found its gypsum was almost pure and remarked, "The material is very slow-setting, and when mixed with sand makes a very fine wall plaster...for all practical purposes the material is plaster, pure and simple." The University analysis three years later, however, found the product was mixed about 5:1 gypsum and lime -- a blend, according to the The Old House Journal Guide to Restoration, that plasterers discovered was superior.

As the exterior redwood trim was supposed to be only oiled, "all interior finish throughout the building, not otherwise noted, will be given two good coats of white wax, well rubbed each coat" (pg. 19). But what exactly is "white wax?" It doesn't appear to be a brand name, but rather a wax formula that was common knowledge at the time. It certainly was NOT pure beeswax.

Mrs. Beeton's (c. 1860) provides a "furniture paste" recipe of 3 oz. beeswax, 1 oz. white wax, 1 oz, curd soap, 1 pint of turpentine, and 1 pint of water (item #2310). Slight variations on this formula for furniture/floor polish appear in other 19th century household guides, sometimes including other ingredients such as linseed oil, resin, "rainwater," or paraffin instead of beeswax.

White Diamond Butcher's Wax is probably an adequate substitute, but Candice plans to try a simple recipe that is equal parts wax and turpentine.

Jones was emphatic in the contract specifications that there should be no paint used on exterior wood. Although he capitalizes words sometimes, he only underlines on two occasions, both to specify NO PAINT (pages 9, 11). Today, almost all of the outside wood is painted a flat brown -- although the two doors on the front porch retain their original finish.

The specifications are clear that "all exterior wood work will have oil finish," which should be "one good coat of Pure Boiled Linseed Oil" before the wood is in place, and then a second coat of linseed oil, mixed 2:1 with turpentine (pg. 18) when the carpentry was done.

Our restoration will strip the paint and restore the oil finish.

Jones demanded "Star A Star" shingles be used, and we were unsure if this was a brand name or a quality ranking, similar to how we use "Grade A" today. The answer was found in a 1924 handbook of lumber inspection rules, which detailed "*A*" as a grading specification for a "Forty-one Year Roof." The directions from the Northern White Cedar Shingle Manufacturers Association also contain detailed instructions for properly working with the shingles (PDF).

Our shingle research stumbled upon some charming tributes to the quality of "Star A Star" shingles. Besides the ad seen at right, there is a notice of a marriage in the May 1886 edition of The Medicine Lodge [Kansas] Cresset: "This religious weekly extends its best wishes to the young couple and hopes the lumber yard of their life may never be filled with wind-shaken faulty lumber but always be stocked with first-grade clear stock, Star A Star shingles and everything else first class."

On page 21 of the contract specifications: "Provide and set where shown Budde's slop hoppers and bell traps at same to be removed." The wording here is wee ambiguous, but we interpret Jones as intending to say, "take out those (temporary) bell traps and put in the slop hoppers."

Bell traps (see right) were considered old-fashioned and unsanitary by the turn of the century, but were obviously still used, at least as a temporary way to cap the top of a sewer pipe yet still have it usable. (For a thorough, if somewhat disgusting, discussion of Edwardian plumbing, see: "Sanitary House Drainage, Its Principle and Practice;" Coleman, T.E.; Spon & Chamberlain, New York, 1896, available on-line at Google Books.)

A "slop-hopper" (also called a "slop-sink") was a place to dump the contents of chamber pots or bedpans and had the two elements considered essential for modern, sanitary plumbing: a water barrier between the sewer and the house to keep down odors, and a tank of some sort to hold water used for the flush. The "hopper" was what we call the toilet bowl today.

Joseph Budde was a top West Coast manufacturer of toilets (specifically, "water closets, slop, waste and surface hoppers") in San Francisco and an early innovator, with an 1882 patent for a "hopper closet," shown at left.

A description of Budde's shop can be found in "Master Hands in the Affairs of the Pacific Coast" (Western Historical and Publishing Co.; San Francisco, 1892). At his factory/showroom at 575 Mission, customers could view his line of water closets, including models named the "Golden Gate," the "Pioneer of '49," and the "Cliff Stream."

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