D. Ghirardell Co. stock certificate circa 1900 (chocolate and cocoa)
Cool candy collectible. Very nice vignette of a perched eagle with wings spread over the company name. Unissued and not cancelled. Dated 19__. Circa 1900 from company records.
Ghirardelli Chocolate Company is a United States division of Swiss confectioner Lindt & Sprüngli. The company was founded by and is named after Italian chocolatier Domenico Ghirardelli, who, after working in South America, moved to California. The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company was incorporated in 1852, and is the third-oldest chocolate company in the United States, after Baker's Chocolate and Whitman's.
In 1817, Domenico Ghirardelli was born in Rapallo, Italy, to an "exotic foods importer" and his wife. Domenico received his first education in the chocolate trade when he was apprenticed to a local candy maker. By the time he was 20, Ghirardelli sailed to Uruguay with his wife to work in a chocolate and coffee business. A year later, Ghirardelli moved to Lima, Peru, and opened a confectionery store.
In 1849, Ghirardelli received news of the gold strike at Sutter’s Mill and sailed to California. After doing some prospecting, Ghirardelli opened a general store in Stockton, California, offering supplies and confections to fellow miners in town. Ghirardelli's tent-based store was one of the first shops set up in the area. Several months later, Ghirardelli opened a second store on the corner of Broadway and Battery in San Francisco, which became, in 1850, his first establishment in that city.
In September of 1851, Ghirardelli used his remaining assets to open the Cairo Coffee House in San Francisco. This business venture proved unsuccessful, and Ghirardelli opened a new store, named "Ghirardely & Girard", on the corner of Washington and Kearny Streets in San Francisco. He changed the company's name to "D. Ghirardelli & Co." and, in 1852, imported 200 pounds of cocoa beans. The company was incorporated in 1852 and has been in continuous operation since.
In 1853, the business relocated to the corner of Jackson and Mason Streets. By 1855, a larger manufacturing facility was needed, and so the factory was moved to the corner of Greenwich and Powell Streets, while the office remained at the previous location. By 1866, the company was importing 1000 pounds of cocoa seeds a year. By that time, the company not only sold chocolate, but also coffee and spices to the United States, China, Japan, and Mexico. In 1885, the company imported 450,000 pounds of cocoa seeds. In 1892, Ghirardelli retired as head of the company and was replaced by his three sons. Two years later, on 17 January 1894 Ghirardelli died at the age of 77 in Rapallo, Italy. The company was incorporated as D. Ghirardelli Co. in 1895 and issued shares for public ownership.
By 1900, Ghirardelli's company was selling only chocolate and mustard, having sold its coffee and spices businesses. Further expansion over the years into different buildings allowed the company to expand into new markets and grow financially. In 1965, San Francisco declared Ghirardelli Square an official city landmark. Two years later, production facilities moved to San Leandro, California. The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company was bought by the Golden Grain Macaroni Company, maker of Rice-A-Roni, in 1963. Later, in 1986, Quaker Oats bought Golden Grain, and thus Ghirardelli. In 1992, Quaker Oats sold the Ghirardelli Chocolate division to a private investment group. John J. Anton, from that group, became the president and CEO of the newly independent Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. Lindt and Sprüngli, from Switzerland, acquired Ghirardelli Chocolate Company in 1998 as a wholly owned subsidiary of its holding company.