The New Edinburgh Edition of the Collected Works of Robert Louis Stevenson

Identifying an architectural logo

with 7 comments

Can any reader of this blog help identify the building represented in the following embossed symbol on a sheet of paper used by RLS:

Screen shot 2013-04-14 at 19.58.56

The paper was used for pencil draft versions of five short fables, including ‘The Carthorse and the Saddle Horse’ which we can date to after November 1890 when the horses referred to arrived at Vailima. The embossed ‘logo’ is in the top left-hand corner of the unlined paper, which from the photographic image (the measurements have not yet been taken) appears to be foolscap, not writing paper—so working paper from an office rather than letter paper from a hotel or club. The architecture (the slim dome on a drum, the suggestion of a portico and the symmetrical side buildings with gabled roofs) also suggests an institutional building.

Does any reader of this blog recognise the form from their knowledge of Victorian architecture (perhaps now destroyed) of Sydney, or Honolulu (but were there any domed buildings there?) or perhaps even San Francisco? Or has any researcher come across paper with the same embossed symbol?


Written by rdury

17/04/2013 at 8:26 am

7 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Sydney Town Hall?

    Neil Brown

    17/04/2013 at 11:41 am

    • The narrowness of the frontage is about right (and the embossed image could have those mansard roofs rather than gabled ones to right and left, as I originally thought) but the 3-level central tower with tiny crowning cupola is not the same. Of course, it may have orginally had a large cupola, then replaced by the tower—but the old photos on Google images all seem to show the distinctive three-decker tower.


      17/04/2013 at 1:26 pm

      • Yes, Richard, the tower is the problem; it certainly looks like a full-blown dome crowning it, but maybe it’s just over-embossed (if there is such a thing!) on the paper. Back to the drawing board, I fear.

        Neil Brown

        17/04/2013 at 1:56 pm

      • Now think that it’s possibly a poor impression of the frontage of Edinburgh Old Quad, which finally had its Robert Adam-planned dome added by Rowand Anderson in 1880; the flanking pavilions of the massive front do have very shallow sloping roofs (exaggerated in the embossing?) not easily seen from street level because of the nature of the site on the relatively narrow South Bridge.

        Neil Brown

        19/04/2013 at 9:50 pm

  2. I wondered whether this might be the old (pre-1906 earthquake) San Francisco City Hall. It wasn’t completed until 1899 — so, too late — but it was in construction for 27 years … while there’s a resemblance with the dome, the rest of the building (the flanking gabled roofs) doesn’t quite look right. See:

    Ian Duncan

    18/04/2013 at 2:58 am

  3. Just a late night thought – who might have provided RLS with the paper? (or who he pinched it from?) – re your ‘after Nov 1890’ date – this would be shortly after the arrival of American historian Henry Adams and artist John La Farge in Samoa in Oct 1890 (left end of Jan 1891) – they would have had various papers …

    Neil Brown

    18/04/2013 at 10:27 pm

  4. Its symmetry and central dome reminds me of the Karlskirche in Vienna, but there are no signs of the Herculean pillars.

    Jacqui Howard

    19/04/2013 at 2:03 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: