Lowman & Hanford Company records, 1894-1955

Overview of the Collection

Lowman & Hanford Company (Seattle, Wash.)
Lowman & Hanford Company records
1894-1955 (inclusive)
3 boxes and 1 folder, including 19 photographs, (1.26 cubic feet)
Collection Number
1970.5046 (collection)
Business records and photographs of a Seattle printing and stationery company
Museum of History & Industry, Sophie Frye Bass Library

P.O. Box 80816
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 2063241126 x102
Access Restrictions

The collection is open to the public by appointment.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

The Lowman & Hanford Stationery and Printing Company, later the Lowman & Hanford Company, was a printing company and retail stationery business operating in the Pioneer Square area of Seattle beginning around 1885.

James Lowman and Clarence Hanford were business and civic leaders in early Seattle, each with ties to Seattle's pioneer settlers. James D. Lowman (1856-1947) was born in Maryland and arrived in Seattle in 1877 at the invitation of his uncle, founding Seattle settler and sawmill owner Henry Yesler. Lowman worked as assistant wharf master on Yesler's wharf for four years, using his savings to purchase a half interest in the book store owned by W.H. Pumphrey in 1881, and buying out his partner two years later.

Clarence Hanford (1857-1920) was a Seattle native, the youngest son of Washington Territory pioneers. When Hanford was 13, he began learning the printing trade at the office of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which was published by his older brother, Thaddeus Hanford, eventually becoming foreman of the printing department. Hanford later bought out the job-printing department and established a job-printing office with a partner, J.H. McClair, in 1879, buying out McClair’s interest in 1881.

Around 1885, J.D. Lowman and Clarence Hanford consolidated their stationery and printing businesses into the Lowman & Hanford Stationery and Printing Company, with Lowman as President and principle stockholder, and Hanford as vice-president and manager of the printing and bookmaking department. The firm advertised as booksellers, stationers, printers and binders but also sold typewriters, sewing machines, pianos and organs. The new company added large presses and printed all the city's newspapers until their establishment was destroyed in the Great Fire of June 1889. The company returned to the "burnt district" after the fire, probably in temporary quarters at first, then building both the Lowman & Hanford Printing and Binding building (now the Washington Park Building) on Washington Street, along Railroad Avenue (now Alaskan Way), which they moved into in 1890, and the Lowman & Hanford building at 616 First Avenue, designed by Emil DeNeuf. Within months of the fire, they had erected and operated in the first two floors of the latter building, continuing operations during construction of the upper floors. The four-story building was completed in 1892, with three more upper floors added around 1902. Immediately next door, the 10-story Lowman Building at 107 Cherry Street was completed in 1906. These two buildings, along with the Howard Building and the Pioneer Building, forms the eastern edge of the area’s original public square.

Judging by entries in city directories, the retail store appears to have gone out of business in the 1960s, with the printing company ceasing operations some years previous.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Records include stockholder and Board of Trustees meeting minutes; Lowman & Hanford Company stock certificates; materials related to investments held by Lowman & Hanford Company; a file related to financial transactions regarding their Washington Street property; and correspondence and legal documents regarding the effect of Alaskan Way viaduct construction on Lowman & Hanford businesses.

The photographs include portraits of J.D. Lowman and Clarence Hanford and views of Lowman & Hanford buildings over the years, showing the expansion of the store at 616 First Avenue from two stories, to four and finally seven stories. A series of mounted and captioned photographs depicts operations in the printing and bindery building on Washington Street.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

View selections from the collection in digital format by clicking on the camera icons in the inventory below.

Restrictions on Use

The Museum of History & Industry is the owner of the materials in the Sophie Frye Bass Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from MOHAI before any reproduction use. The museum does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.

Preferred Citation

Lowman & Hanford Company Records, Museum of History & Industry, Seattle

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Arranged in 5 series:

  • Business records
  • Investments
  • Properties
  • Alaskan Way condemnation
  • Photographs and drawing

Location of Collection


Location of Collection


Location of Collection

1a (oversize folder)

Acquisition Information

Gift of Arthur R. Cook, December 3, 1970

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Business records, 1894-1946Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Minutes of stockholders and Board of Trustees meetings.
Lowman & Hanford S. & P. Co.
1 bound volume
Includes the Trustees Oath of Office from March 2, 1885, signed by J.D. Lowman, Clarence Hanford and John N. Jackson; 1899 documents about the purchase of 2 lots in "D.S. Maynard's Plat of Seattle" for $12,000; and documents about the change of the company name to Lowman & Hanford Company (1909).
1894 March-1909 July
Lowman & Hanford Co.
1 bound volume
Includes oaths of trustees after the death of Clarence Hanford and the retirement of Mary Jackson.
Lowman & Hanford Co.
1 bound volume
Pacific Blue Print Paper Co. Inc.
1 bound volume
The Pacific Blue Print Company of New York, New York purchased the Commercial Blue Print Company of Seattle and consolidated with it in 1915, moving operations to Seattle. The company name was changed to Pacific Commercial Blue, Inc. The relationship between this company and the Lowman & Hanford Company is unclear; possibly Lowman & Hanford owned Pacific Commercial Blue Inc. at some point. City directory listings for Pacific Commercial Blue end in 1926.
Lowman & Hanford Company capital stock certificates
1 bound volume
Bound volume of stock certificates of $100 each. The majority of the certificates are in the names of Clarence Hanford, J.D. Lowman, J.H. Jackson and Bernard Pelly.
1909 July 13-1929 August 27
Trademark and patents
Trademark registration (1932), and documents related to problems with a patent agreement (1924, 1933).
1924, 1932-1933
Miscellaneous business records
Inventory of "Cars received in Commercial Warehouse Bldg" on Alaskan Way, a Corporation License, and a group medical contract
1934, 1939, 1946

Investments, 1886-1955Return to Top

Documents related to investments owned by Lowman & Hanford Company, including stocks and bonds, as well as documents related to claims on unpaid investments.

Container(s) Description Dates
Pacific Steamship Lines
Documents related to claims for payment on investments, including correspondence, court records and income notes
Pacific Coast Golfer
Includes correspondence and articles of incorporation of a company in which all stock was owned by Lowman & Hanford and Western Engraving & Colortype Company
Seattle Steam Corp.
Correspondence regarding sale of Lowman & Hanford Company shares of stock in Seattle Steam Corp.
Northwest Toll Bridge Company
Correspondence regarding payment of interest on bonds
Central Public Service Corp.
Includes company's financial statements and correspondence about stock purchase.
Miscellaneous stocks and bonds
approximately 60 items
Certificates purchased by Lowman & Hanford Company for shares in a wide variety of businesses, and bonds for loans to various entities.
Claims on investments
Correspondence and court records regarding claims and other issues with investments.

PropertiesReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Washington Street property
Documents were removed from envelope inscribed "Deed and papers pertaining to Washington St. investment."
Documents regarding the property at "Lot 4, Block 1 of D.S. Maynard's Plat of the City of Seattle, and Lot 4, Block 197 of the Plat of Seattle Tide Lands." Includes investigation of title (1906); quitclaim deeds from various parties to Lowman & Hanford for the property (1906); a warranty deed between Dexter Horton Bank and Lowman & Hanford for purchase and assignment of mortgage to Margaret Denny; agreement between Denny and Lowman & Hanford regarding the mortgage (1911);correspondence and statements regarding payments made to Margaret Denny (1914-1916); and accounting records regarding the Washington Street building (1906-1929).
In which Lowman & Hanford Co. is the lessor

Alaskan Way condemnationReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Correspondence and agreement
Includes correspondence (1946-1950) regarding Lowman & Hanford Company's claims against the city for damages that will result from improvements on Alaskan Way (Lowman & Hanford owned two buildings on Alaskan Way -- the printing plant and a sales office-- and used the railroad spur for shipping). Also includes an agreement between Lowman & Hanford and Northern Pacific Railway Company related to the relocation of trackage resulting from the construction of the Alaskan Way viaduct (1953). Includes Northern Pacific Railroad blueprints of the area in question.
Ordinance copies
1950 copies of an ordinance and its amendments from 1882, 1883, 1900 and 1909. The ordinance involves the rights of the Oregon & Transcontinental Railroad Company (later the Northern Pacific Railroad Company) and the Columbia & Puget Sound Railroad Company to construct a railroad along the Seattle waterfront. These documents were probably reproduced in relation to Lowman & Hanford claims regarding Alaskan Way construction.

Photographs and drawingReturn to Top

19 photographs and 1 drawing
Container(s) Description Dates
.1-.2: Portraits of Clarence Hanford and J.D. Lowman
Printed reproductions
3/3 early 1880s
3/3 1888
.5: Men outside storefront with Lowman and Hanford S&P Co. sign
This photograph probably depicts a temporary store location as a result of the June 1889 Seattle fire. Caption on mount reads "Site of Present County-City Building" (the King County Courthouse at 3rd Avenue and James Street in Pioneer Square).
circa 1890
3/3 1898
.7: Lowman & Hanford Co. buildings at First Avenue and Cherry Street
circa 1915
3/4 circa 1920
.9: Lowman & Hanford Co. store at 1514 3rd Ave.
circa 1930
.10-.12: Lowman & Hanford Co. buildings on Washington Street and view of Alaskan Way
circa 1950
Printing plant and bindery operations
Set of seven black and white prints mounted on cardboard with hand-lettered captions, showing various operations within the printing plant and bindery buildings on Washington Street.
circa 1908
3/6 circa 1908
.14: Women working in bindery
circa 1908
3/6 circa 1908
3/6 circa 1908
.17: Men working at presses
circa 1908
3/7 circa 1908
3/7 circa 1908
.20: Copy of architect's concept drawing of a Lowman and Hanford building
Bittman, Henry (architect)
1930 December 26

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Lowman and Hanford Building (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Printers--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Stationery trade--Washington (State)--Seattle

Personal Names

  • Hanford, Clarence, 1857-1920

Geographical Names

  • Pioneer Square (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Seattle (Wash.)

Form or Genre Terms

  • Photographic prints

Other Creators

  • Personal Names
    • Lowman, James D., 1856-1947 (creator)
    Corporate Names
    • Lowman & Hanford Stationery & Printing Co. (creator)