This Christmas mailer set consists of a metal plaque, a cardboard display stand, a Christmas letter to Stonehouse Signs, Inc. customers, and an envelope.
The material in the Stonehouse Signs Collection was donated to History Colorado by siblings Jeffry (Jeff) Stone and Rebecca (Becky) Stone Roche in February 2022. Stone and Roche were the last of five generations to own and operate the Stonehouse Signs family business. Both are descendants of the former Chicago gold-leaf letter specialist, William Stonehouse. Stonehouse was a one-man hand painting sign business. His son, James Wesley (J.W.) Stonehouse inherited his father’s talent and became an itinerant sign painter until the lure of gold drew to Victor, Colorado in the 1890’s. J.W. financed his search for gold by applying his trade as a sign painter. Ads in the city’s directory records his address as the Tomkins Block, Victor, Colorado. By 1903, however, J.W. had painted his way to Douglas, Arizona. The sign on his Douglas storefront shop at 1268 G. Avenue touted him as “J.W. Stonehouse Painter of Good Signs, Pictures & Framing.” He incorporated under the laws of Arizona Territory as “The Stonehouse Company.” The Stonehouse Company did not flourish right away, however. Accounts receivable were the first to go in 1906. Then the inventory which included 4,000 rolls of wallpaper, barrels of whiting and ochre, a dozen step ladders, 200 pounds of graphite, scaffolds and other miscellaneous sign painting equipment. J.W. (James Wesley) hit the motherlode, however, when he became aware one critical source of accidents in mines. Miners who migrated from one mine to another would encounter different sets of mine bell signals in each mine. Some of the miner’s spoke different languages as well. The lack of standardization was a danger that resulted too often in deaths. J.W. sensed an avenue for sales. With meticulous groundwork, he laid out his plan state-by-state-by-territory. He convinced the bureaus of mines to standardize elevator signals and require them to be posted at each level in each mine as well as in each wheelhouse. With these standard “Mine Bell Signals” neatly silk-screened on oilcloth J.W. had a relatively easy job selling his product to mine owners. It was the beginning of the company’s focus on safety signage and the key to the business’ enduring success. J.W. relocated to the corner of 17th and Lawrence Street in Denver sometime after 1906. He would again move shop in 1920 to Ninth & Larimer Street where the business continued to grow and prosper. Stonehouse was a pioneer in the industrial safety movement. He worked tirelessly to promote his designs for safety sign panels that are recognized as standard today by The American National Standard Institute for which Stonehouse was a founding member. The “DANGER”, “CAUTION”, and “NOTICE” panels that one sees today are J.W. Stonehouse’s designs. Stonehouse Signs, Inc. moved from the Ninth & Larimer Street location to Arvada in 1968, where it was operated by Jeff and Becky Stone, until its sale in 2020.
Please refer to individual set component records 2022.23.17.A-.D for inscription information on individual objects.