Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » “I Take Up My Pen”: Salt Lake Dramatic Association, 1889

“I Take Up My Pen”: Salt Lake Dramatic Association, 1889

By: Ardis E. Parshall - February 12, 2014





  1. Interesting, but not as aesthetically pleasing as some others we’ve seen here. Also, I don’t know of any corporate logos or letterheads that normally advertise their market capitalization so blatantly.

    Comment by kevinf — February 12, 2014 @ 10:56 am

  2. Ha! No, the closest I’ve seen is some insurance company letterhead (HJGrant) that gives some dollar figures. But an acting company??

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 12, 2014 @ 11:01 am

  3. I think it was much more common for business corporations to advertise their capital back in the 19th century. I suppose they thought that if they advertised a bunch of pillars of the community as their board of directors and implied that those pillars had poured a bunch of money into the enterprise, then the rest of the hoi polloi would come running with their money asking how they might invest also.

    But, “paid up capital” would have been the aggregate value investors paid to the company for their shares, which of course bears no particular relation to the actual value of the company–it might have spent all that money paying actors’ salaries and other costs of mounting a production that played before a mostly empty house. Market capitalization–the total value placed on the company by investors, based on a combination of factors including whether they ate Wheaties or oatmeal for breakfast this morning–can be completely unrelated to anything rational: the mere fact that a company has never earned a profit in its entire existence doesn’t stop the market from thinking it’s a terrific investment and bidding the share price (and thus the market capitalization) up into the stratosphere. See, e.g., Twitter.

    Comment by Mark B. — February 12, 2014 @ 11:38 am

  4. (Who here joins me in some virtual applause for Mark B.? His steady flow here of interesting and intelligent comments both delights and boggles my mind.)

    Comment by David Y. — February 12, 2014 @ 2:11 pm

  5. /long and sustained clapping by delighted and boggled minds/

    Comment by Carol — February 12, 2014 @ 4:00 pm

  6. So I guess that $150,000 in 1898 is equivalent to about about $60,000.000 according to this chart. That is a non-trivial amount of cash! To be invested in a stage production company in Salt Lake City? Visions of “The Producers” suddenly start coming to mind, probably not warranted, but still, that is a big pile of cash.

    Comment by kevinf — February 12, 2014 @ 5:04 pm

  7. More to the story. H. B. Clawson was given $4,000 by Brigham Young to buy at distressed prices, many of the supplies left over at Camp Floyd after Johnston’s Army departed for the Civil War. Clawson sold the supplies eventually for about $40,000 and used that to build the Salt Lake Theater on property owned by Brigham Young, and incorporated as the Salt Lake Theater Company.

    When Pres, Young died, the theater and the company got caught up in litigation over Young’s estate, but was finally released to Charles S. Burton, who then started the Salt Lake Dramatic Association shown above. The bulk of the assets appeared to be the theater, which alternately was valued at around $100,000, and eventually returned to John Taylor as Trustee-in-Trust, holding the property for the church, who then sold it to John Sharp for $62,000, who turned around and sold it to the Salt Lake Dramatic Association for $74,500. So I am not sure that the $150,000 paid up capital figure. Eventually, Charles Burton died, and Parker Pratt, son of Parley P. Pratt, contested the will. I am not sure from what I just read shows how that was resolved, but by 1915, Joseph F. Smith as Trustee-in-Trust was president of the Salt Lake Dramatic Association, indicating perhaps that ownership had moved back to the church from private hands. All this from a book by Helen Whithey, “Drama in Utah: The Story of the Salt Lake Theater” published in 1915 by the Deseret News Press, and found on Google books or the Gutenberg project.

    Comment by kevinf — February 12, 2014 @ 5:32 pm

  8. Me too! Me too! I join in the applause for Mark and his arcane knowledge!

    Thanks for your input, too, kevinf — I thought I knew something about the Salt Lake Theater, but you just taught me a whole lot.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 12, 2014 @ 5:36 pm

  9. I learned from a master, Mark, who taught me how to use the Google.

    Comment by kevinf — February 12, 2014 @ 5:50 pm

  10. Wow. I leave my computer for a few hours and look what happens. And all because of Ardis and a tiny piece of non-impressive looking letterhead.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — February 12, 2014 @ 6:10 pm

  11. Amazing how often that happens with this crowd, isn’t it, Bruce? :)

    This is the only piece of this letterhead I’ve run across, by the way, and I’ve watched for other samples. It’s thinner than ordinary, tissue-paper texture although somewhat heavier than that, thin enough that writing on the reverse shows through. But I’ll take what I can get.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 12, 2014 @ 6:20 pm

  12. Very cool. Bravo, Mark and Kevin, and of course Ardis for making this discussion possible. [Wipes a tear from eye.]

    So, my foray into Google shows that a number of these men were involved in an indictment for conspiracy for the misuse of public funds in 1889, either as witnesses or defendants. Here’s a link. (“Indicted for Conspiracy.”)

    Comment by Amy T — February 13, 2014 @ 8:02 am

  13. Well, that’s one way to handle your political opponents — indict them for conspiracy. Hard to believe this is dated 1889 instead of 2014.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 13, 2014 @ 8:06 am

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