What’s in a name: Anglo California National Bank

National Bank note (Click for larger image in a new window)One of my earlier posts covered Pacific Coast trade between California and Canada. While Pacific Coast trade may seem intuitive given that seagoing transportation was the easiest and fastest mode of transportation the California Gold Rush era, the strong links San Francisco maintained with the capital markets of Great Britain and continental Europe are not as obvious.

One example is the Anglo California Bank, Ltd., organized under British law in 1873. Anglo California used its capital to become one of the largest banks in San Francisco by the end of the nineteenth century, with primary focus on international transactions with Asia and Europe.

Around the same time, the trading house of Lazard Freres opened a San Francisco office with a specialization in financing international trade. By 1884 this office was renamed the London, Paris, and American Bank, Ltd., with a British bank charter. After having offices at different locations on California and Sansome Streets, London, Paris, and American secured the prominent corner at 1 Sansome Street. This prime spot suited an expanding business.

National Bank note (Click for larger image in a new window)These two banks with parallel histories saw their futures merge when the State of California passed a law restricting branches of foreign banks within the state.

With that law pending in 1908, Herbert Fleishhacker (son-in-law of London and President of Paris & American Bank) bought out the foreign ownership, then converted the bank to a national bank charter: London Paris National Bank of San Francisco, with charter number 9174.

After less than a year he merged with Anglo California Bank. The combined institution used the combined name of Anglo & London Paris National Bank. In 1932 the firm folded in its affiliated trust company, and shortened its name to Anglo-California National Bank.

Although the revised name in 1932 was more regional in nature, the bank continued to conduct large amounts of international trade financing with both Europe and Asia and expand in northern California.

National Bank note (Click for larger image in a new window)The old “Anglo-Cal” name continued after a merger with Crocker Bank in 1956 and the formation of Crocker-Anglo National Bank. The Anglo-Cal bank façade survives at 1 Sansome Street, incorporated into a modern development.

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8 Responses to What’s in a name: Anglo California National Bank

  1. Larry says:

    I have cashed checks dated 1884 drawn against the Bank of La Porte California printed across the the top and the Anglo California Bank, Limited across the bottom. Anybody able to give me more info on this ? Thanks Larry

    • Jim says:

      I collect Bank of La Porte checks, and have many. They are from the town of La Porte California, the bank ceased to exist in 1890. Do you want to sell your check?
      That year must have the diamond shaped revenue stamp, and is worth about $10.00.

      • Ryan Baum Ryan Baum says:

        Larry–La Porte was an important mining camp founded in 1850 that is now on the southern boundary of Plumas and Sierra Counties in California.

        Jim–Although we don’t offer to buy or sell documents here, we wish you both luck in your collecting endeavors.

        Collecting documents beyond banknotes can be fun. Checks, drafts, bills of exchange, stationery, and envelopes all give a glimpse into the past and provide insight into commercial transactions of their era. Checks are often collected based on bank, town, picture, or revenue stamps. (Following the Civil War even checks had revenue stamps–most had the stamps printed on the check to avoid the hassle of sticking a stamp on it separately.)

  2. Jim Salata says:

    In San Jose we renovated the Anglo California National Bank. We found the original lettering filled in with plaster. The Owner, the Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce allowed me to talk them into exposing the lettering. Some people freaked out because of the word “Anglo” which they did not know the meaning of… The building was designed by and housed the office of the renowned architect Ralph Wyckoff.

  3. Stephanie C says:

    I came across this old post. Not sure if you are still monitoring comments, but here goes. I work at the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, we purchased an old bank building (from Wells Fargo) 101 W Santa Clara Street in San Jose. When we purchased the building in 2009 we went through an extensive renovation to turn the bank in to offices. We also did some facade work, in the course of renovating the facade we uncovered the original architecture of the building which shows the name of the bank at the time it was built (1942) Anglo- California National Bank in relief at the top of the building. We were able to uncover the lettering and restore it to its original look. Good to know that there is another one up in SF on Sansome!

  4. James says:

    My father relocated to San Francisco from Kansas City, MO in 1940, and got a job working in the mail room at the #1 Sansome Anglo Bank. Forty years later he retired from Crocker Bank as a SVP. I have many fond memories of Crocker Bank, and vaguely remember going into #1 Sansome to visit my dad when he worked at that branch in the mid-to-late 50’s.

  5. Barry Swain says:

    I have inherited from my late mother two letters written by J. E. Cussans – at one time he was apparently an executive of the Anglo California Bank, San Francisco. I am not sure whether anyone collects ephemera of this type or whether has an intrinsic value. Any comments would be welcome?

  6. James B says:

    I recently acquired a Bank ledger book, approximately 10″ x 14″ x 4″ dated 1890 Anglo Bank of San Francisco. Love history

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