Beautifully engraved RARE certificate from the Giant Powder Company issued in 1915. This historic document was printed by Union Litho. and has an ornate border around it with the company's name in fancy print. There is also an underprint of an explosion. This item is hand signed by the Company's Officers and is over 108 years old.
The Giant Powder Company was the first company in America to produce dynamite. The Giant Powder Company moved to Point Pinole around San Francisco in 1892 and set up the company town of Giant, along with its plant to produce explosives used throughout the world in major earth moving efforts. Since 1960, when the company left, the company town became part of a residential development, and mother nature has taken over the rest. All that remains are some in-cognito, blast-protecting concrete bunkers.
The company was incorporated in August 1867 by Julius Bandmann of San Francisco for the express purpose of manufacturing Nobel's newly-patented explosive in the United States. Bandmann immediately began construction of his factory in what was then the remote southern part of San Francisco, now Glen Canyon Park in the Glen Park neighborhood of the city. The facility was ready by early 1868, with production commencing in March. The location of this factory is listed as California Historical Landmark number 1002.
On November 26, 1869, an explosion destroyed the Giant dynamite factory, killing two and injuring nine people. A new facility was subsequently built at another site located in the western part of San Francisco, among the sand dunes and scrub that later became part of the Sunset District (in the vicinity of today's Kirkham, Ortega, 20th, and 32nd Avenues), but another accident destroyed that plant as well.
Plants in Albany and Berkeley
The public outcry that ensued from these two accidents prompted the Giant Powder Company to move across the bay to a more remote site in what was then West Berkeley (now Albany), between Fleming Point and Cerrito de San Antonio (later re-named "Albany Hill"). The railroad station for the facility was named "Nobel". The Judson Manufacturing Co., whose founder and CEO Egbert Judson had acquired an interest in Giant when it was still located in San Francisco, established its chemical works adjacent to the Giant plant to supply it with the acids for manufacturing dynamite.
On April 15, 1880, another accidental explosion occurred killing many workers and several visitors. The company then instituted more stringent safety measures, including the planting of eucalyptus trees atop the adjacent hill to act as a buffer for surrounding communities. During the 1880s, Giant decided to start manufacturing its own acids, creating a rift with partner Judson who then left the company and formed his own in 1890, the Judson Explosives and Powder Company. He constructed his own facility nearby, on the northwest side of the Cerrito de San Antonio.
On July 9, 1892, an explosion occurred on the Giant property which killed all the workers on site, and caused damage to the nearby Judson site. The blast was widely felt, shattering windows for miles around, including those on the campus of the University of California. The facility was entirely destroyed. Judson sued Giant for its damages and won.
Point Pinole explosives plant
In 1892, the Giant Powder Company moved once again, this time to Sobrante near Point Pinole, northwest of San Pablo (Sobrante should not be confused with nearby El Sobrante, California). The company town of Giant, Richmond, California was established by 1895.
In 1904, two men were killed in an explosion at the plant.
In 1907, two men were killed and many injured in an explosion at the plant.
In 1915, the Giant Powder Company was acquired by the Atlas Powder Company. Atlas, as well as the Hercules Powder Company, had been formed in 1912 as part of the settlement of the court-ordered breakup of the DuPont Corporation's explosives monopoly. The new management implemented more rigorous safety measures.
Giant's production facility remained at Point Pinole for decades without any further serious accidents, although there were a few incidents. Giant produced a wide variety of explosives for commercial and military uses until 1960. The area where explosives were manufactured was named "Nitro" while the nearby company town was called "Giant". The area is still shown on maps as "Giant", and a principal thoroughfare through the area is called "Giant Highway". The site of the Giant Powder Company at Point Pinole Regional Shoreline is a California Historical Landmark, number 1002-1, marked with a monument and plaque.
On May 31, 1961, shortly after the Atlas Powder Company closed its Giant facility, it changed its name to Atlas Chemical Industries, Inc. as it started to move away from producing explosives. On July 21, 1971, Atlas was purchased by Imperial Chemical Industries Limited (UK) and became its American affiliate under the name ICI Americas Inc.
History from Wikipedia, RM Smythe and OldCompany.com (old stock certificate research services)