Bancroft Company (1852 – present) was a San Francisco, California, based publishing firm active in the second half of the 19th century. Bancroft is considered the first major publisher to develop in California. The firm was founded in 1852 when Herbert Howe Bancroft (1832 – 1918) relocated from Buffalo, New York, to San Francisco, California, with a stock of books to establish a regional office of his family's East Coast publishing house. The firm, initially situated in the Naglee Buildings and Montgomery and Merchant Streets, was immensely successful both as booksellers and publishers. H. H. Bancroft resigned from the company in 1868 to pursue historical study and passed on management to his brother, Albert Little Bancroft (1841 – 1914). A. L. Bancroft ran the firm from 1869 and 1871. It was Albert who published the firm's first maps, including general maps of California, pocket maps of San Francisco, and other southwest focused material. Albert led the firm during its most expansive period, was a pillar of the San Francisco community, and a founding member of the Bohemian Club. The firm was exceptionally clever in leveraging California's gold wealth to maximize its profitability. According to A. L. Bancroft,
A purchase of an item costing $1.00 in currency in New York could be sold for $2.00 in gold in San Francisco. With the $2.00 in gold the company bought New York exchange currency at 250% and received $5.00 for what had originally cost $1.00. (Clark, H., A Venture in History, p. 9)Meanwhile his brother, H. H. Bancroft dedicated himself to history and writing. He established the 'History Factory,' a commercially organized production house for historical research. Bancroft planned to write an expansive 39 volume history of the western part of North America. Only parts of Bancroft's were published due to an 1886 fire at Bancroft and Company where in several unpublished volumes were destroyed. Throughout his long career Bancroft compiled a vast library of some 60,000 volumes, most related to the western United States in one way or another. This vast collection was eventually transferred to the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1895 The educational stock of the Bancroft company was sold to Whitaker and Ray. In time the publishing arm of the Bancroft Company relocated to New York City where it took on new partners and focused on legal publications under the imprint Bancroft-Whitney Company. In 1989 it was absorbed into the International Thomson Organization.