Notes: Ella May Clemmons (who changed the spelling of her surname to suggest an association with Mark Twain) married the Chinese immigrant merchant Wong Sun Fue following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Together they ran the curio shop Dug from the Ruins in Chinatown, selling artifacts from damaged buildings and Chinese imports of various kinds. They were the best-known interracial couple in San Francisco, and they sold real photo postcards of themselves for the decade following the earthquake.
The postcards were typically inscribed by Ella May using the couple's distinctive Chinese-American nomenclature: Mr. & Mrs. Wong Sun Fue Clemens. She also inevitably added "Mrs. Howard Gould's sister," indicating that her sister had married into the wealthy Gould family. Wong and Clemens were an unlikely pair, and they became just one of the notable eccentrics that made San Francisco their home.
This grouping of ten postcards offers a good sample of the images issued by Dug from the Ruins. Two are from the immediate post-earthquake era, showing the Wongs in front of a wooden hut with a canvas roof; one shows the couple posed in front of a partially ruined brick building; five depict the couple inside their shop; and two are photographs of Chinese-American children (which are typical of the Chinatown views they also sold). An envelope for a postcard stamped with their shop's address and an emblem of the Panama Pacific International Exposition is also included (which postcard was originally inside is not known).
Edition + Condition: A nice group, most captioned on the front in Ella May's hand; most stamped on the back with the Dug from the Ruins store stamp. Most of the cards are silvered, but they are generally near fine and postally unused.
Publication: San Francisco: Dug from the Ruins, (1907–1915).
Item No: #363181
Status: On Hold