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Parrot Silver and Copper Company - 1900 - Click to enlarge  

Parrot Silver and Copper Company - 1900

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PRODUCT DESCRIPTION  
Beautifully engraved Certificate from the famous Parrot Silver and Copper Company issued in 1900. This historic document has an ornate border around it with a vignettes of a parrot and an arm and hammer. This item is hand signed by the company's president and is over 100 years old.

Below is some history referring to the mines in Butte Montana:

It is impossible to ignore history in Butte. And Butte's history is largely about working and the struggle for decent wages and dignity and safety in a dangerous workplace.

Butte has the second largest National Historic Landmark District in the country. More than 2,200 National Historic Landmark sites have been officially recognized by the U.S. National Park Service. Now, Butte is being recognized for its labor heritage and may receive recognition as a National Labor History Landmark. According to Lysa Wegman-French of the U.S. National Park Service, "Such a designation would provide an additional honor for Butte which is already a National Historic Landmark District. Butte achieved that designation based on its mining past but it may be equally significant for its role in labor history."

History though is like the toxic dirt that has covered much of the ground in Butte after a century of mining for gold, silver, and copper. Whether a person recognizes its depths or dangers, or they simply deny its effects until they discover it unexpectedly while digging for something else, it remains an important factor that influences the present and the future as well.

The Great Shutdown: A New World Order

From the beginning, unions worked closely with mine owners who sparred among themselves for power and prestige and for the allegiance of the miners.

In 1899, Standard Oil bought the interests of previous owners and entered the fray with the Amalgamated Copper Company. "The Company," as it was to be known, became omnipotent on the Hill when they crushed their last independent competitor, F. Augustus Heinze in 1903 with a brutal tactic known as The Great Shutdown.

The Company found itself frustrated in the local courts by judges who were biased for Heinze. Judge William D. Clancy, for example, was a big bushy bearded, tobacco-chewing magistrate who would nod off on the bench only to wake up and proclaim "The court finds for Mr. Heinze." At that time there was no change of venue law that would allow a new judge if a party to a lawsuit felt that the judge was biased against them.

The Amalgamated Copper Company shut down all of its operations in the state putting 20,000 Montanans out of work and then demanded that the state call a special session of the legislature to pass a change of venue law.

When the state gave in, this forced Heinze to sell out and spelled the end of an era of cooperation between mine owners and their workers for their mutual benefit. In a speech delivered on October 26th on the steps of the County Courthouse before 10,000 angry suddenly unemployed miners, Heinze delivered a prophetic eulogy for that era at the same time that he probably delivered his own neck from a noose.

He said, "If they crush me today they will crush you tomorrow. They will cut your wages and raise the tariff in the company stores on every bite you eat and every rag you wear. They will force you to dwell in Standard Oil houses while you live and they will bury you in Standard Oil coffins when you die."

In March 1912, The Company fired 500 miners whom they labeled as Socialists. Then, that December, they imposed a blacklist system to screen workers by requiring miners to fill out cards and answer questions about their union and political affiliations. Those deemed agitators were simply not called for work.

Pinkerton and Thiel agency detectives were hired to infiltrate, identify troublemakers, and even provoke violence themselves if possible to weaken the unions from within.

Labor Timeline for Butte

June 13, 1878 -- Butte Workingmen's Union forms during a strike over wage cut from $3.50 to $3 a day at Alice and Lexington silver mines.

February, 1882 -- First Miner's Union Hall collapses.

March, 1885 -- Butte Miner's Union forms and limits membership to miners only. The second Miner's Union Hall is completed.

January 2, 1886 -- Knights of Labor joins with Butte Miners, Tailors, and Typographical unions to form the Silver Bow Trades and Labor Assembly.

May 5th to 9th, 1886 - Strike by Utah and Northern railroad brakemen shuts down the Anaconda mine and smelter.

June 13th, 1887 -- Bluebird Incident brings closed shop in Butte that will last for 27 years.

May 6, 1890 -- strike against wage reduction to $2.50 a day by surface workers prompts strikers to form Butte Laborer's Union. The new union changes its name to Butte Workingmen's Union in honor of Butte's first union.

May 15, 1893 -- Western Federation of Miners founded in Butte. Butte Miner's Union designated as Local Number One.

July 7th to 23rd, 1894 -- Railroad strike of BA&P and Pullman workers closes Anaconda, Syndicate, and Parrot mines.

January 6th, 1896 -- school strike by Butte Teacher's Union.

January 13, 1897 -- Silver Bow Labor Trades and labor Assembly announces boycott against Chinese and Japanese businesses, blaming them for bad economic conditions.

April 15, 1897 -- Several Chinese businessmen sue to recover $500,000 in damages caused by union boycott. They receive an injunction and win the suit in 1898, and collect court costs, $1,705.05, but no damages.

October 22, 1903 -- The Great Shutdown. The Company closes down all operations putting 20,000 out of work until a special session of the legislature is called to ensure a change of venue if a plaintiff believes a trial judge is prejudiced.

June 27, 1905 -- Industrial Workers of the World forms at meeting of labor activists in Chicago. One founder, William D. "Big Bill" Haywood, Jr., calls it "Socialism with its working clothes on."

September 12th, 1907 to February 29th, 1908 -- Citing a slump in the copper market, The Company reduces its work force by half on September 12th, and then shuts down almost all of the mines on the Hill on December 7th. Full production doesn't resume until the next year.

December 1, 1912 -- Rustling card system put in place by The Company. "Agitators" identified by spies are refused cards and therefore work.

June 12, 1914 -- Incident at Speculator mine when Muckie McDonald encourages fellow workers to refuse to show their union cards. Evening shift workers at Speculator and Black Rock stay out in support of protesting workers. Walkout stills 1,200 workers and starts week of big trouble.

June 13, 1914 -- riot breaks out at Miner's Union Day parade and spreads to union hall. During the riot, the hall is looted and safe is stolen and dynamited. Acting mayor Frank Curran is pushed out of second-story window.

June 23, 1914 -- Miner's Union Hall is demolished with dynamite.

July 3, 1914 -- Mayor Lewis Duncan is attacked and stabbed in his office. Duncan shoots his attacker in self defense.

August 20, 1914 -- Rustling office at Parrot mine is dynamited.

September 9, 1914 -- The Company declares an open shop, renouncing the Western Federation of Miners.

June 8, 1917 -- Granite Mountain Fire kills 168 men in worst disaster in metal mining history.

June 5 to December 28, 1917 -- The Metal Mine Workers Union initially formed to protest the draft for World War I and the rustling card system on June 5th. After the Granite Mountain disaster, the new union forms in earnest and a strike is called on the 11th. Smelter workers return to work and mining resumes on September 16th. By December 28th, the MMWU quits the strike. September 12, 1918 -- A crackdown by local authorities and federal troops prevents a general strike to protest the conviction of I.W.W. leaders. Omar Bradley leads federal troops to shut down The Daily Bulletin and I.W.W. members in Butte and Anaconda are arrested, including William F. Dunne, editor of The Daily Bulletin.

February 6 to 17, 1919 -- Strike is called over wage cuts of $1 a day in copper slump after World War I. Governor breaks strike by calling in three companies of the 44th U.S. Infantry. The soldiers bayonet nine strikers on February 10th.

April 19 to May 12, 1920 -- I.W.W. calls a strike that leads to "Bloody Wednesday" massacre on Anaconda Road on April 21st. Federal troops arrive on the 22nd, and 500 miners return to work on the 23rd. May 12th, 1920 - The Company bans I.W.W. members from mines. Posted signs read "No member of I.W.W. will be employed at this property."

April 1921 to January 1922 -- Citing depressed copper prices, The Company shuts down their mines.

June 20 to July 4, 1927 -- A newspaper strike stops publication of The Butte Miner, Anaconda Standard, and Butte Daily Post.

May 8 to September 20, 1934 -- Fourth longest strike results in closed shop again for the first time since 1914.

April 9 to 19, 1946 - Short, bitter strike turns ugly when Company has salaried employees cross picket lines to keep mines operating during strike. Mobs roam Butte neighborhoods destroying homes and property of Company "scabs." Carpenter's Union refuses to allow members to repair damages.

August 27 to September 6, 1951 -- A national strike is curtailed when a Denver court grants injunction sought by President Harry Truman to force miners and smeltermen to return to work.

August 19, 1959 to February 15, 1960 -- second longest strike lasts 181 days.

July 15, 1967 to March 30, 1968 -- Longest strike in Butte's history lasts eight and a half months.

November 5, 1974 -- Anaconda Company announces the closure of the few remaining underground mines in Butte.

July 1 to August 1, 1977 - Month-long strike national strike of non-ferrous metal workers.

June 17 to November 21, 1980 -- Third longest strike lasts four and a half months.

September 29, 1980 -- Anaconda Smelter closes.

April 23, 1982 -- Berkeley Pit shuts down.

June 30, 1983 -- Anaconda suspends all operations in Butte.

July 16, 1986 -- Open pit mining resumes with 188 non-union workers.

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