Thursday, May 13, 2010

Gold's Free Museum

Photo courtesy of the Jeffrey Kraus Collection, (click for enlargement)
Jake Gold's Old Curiosity Shop (aka Gold's Free Museum) was the first Indian curio business established in Santa Fe. The ramshackle old adobe building with wood carrying burros in front of and or around the corner on Burro Alley made this innovative curio shop on San Francisco street a favorite subject for photographers of the late 19th century. The deliberately cluttered and thick dusted interior of his ancient appearing place was equally alluring to tourists. Jake Gold, a brilliant salesman, cast himself as a man worthy of a souvenir portrait card as a moustached, frilly leather jacketed rugged frontiersman complete with a muzzle-loaded pistol stuck in his braided shash belt. He was equally colorful in discourse, "The tourists want to hear tales, and I am here to administer the same." Jake Gold's hugely successful curio store and pioneering mail order catalogs faded as his legal troubles mounted and his health declined, but his spirit lives on today in a yellow store still with the carreta on the roof just a few doors away and on the same side of the street, the subject of my next blog.