Exhibition License No. 1

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Plumas County in California is about 140 miles North of Sacramento. Plumas passed a County Ordinance in September 1911 that required exhibitors and entertainers to pay a license fee. See below that it was $5.00 per month for motion pictures or slide shows, but $15.00 per month for wire rope performances or negro minstrels.

I have the original first license issued under this ordinance -- for motion pictures in April 1912 -- and plan to leave it to the Plumas County Museum when I'm gone. In the early days of film there were traveling promoters with tent shows that would take this new media to rural towns. Below the photo of Exhibition License No. 1 is the full written ordinance. Seems that back then there was not much outside entertainment in Plumas County as it was six months before this first license was issued.

The Plumas County Museum was nice enough to send me a copy of the original 1911 ordinance. No, I do not have too much time on my hands -- this task was outsourced to one of our East Indian programmers who typed the handwritten document into MS Word. Actually his English is better than mine (ignoring pronunciation) and, it is his third language!


Ordinance No. 173

An Ordinance levying a license tax upon personnel, firms, co-partnerships and corporations conducting the business of motion picture shows or the actual performances within the county of Plumas.

The Board of Supervisors of Plumas County, State of California do ordain as follows:

Section I
Each and every person, firm, co-partnership or corporation transacting within the limits of Plumas county, State of California, any business hereafter named shall procure and pay a license in the sum and in the manner in this Ordinance provided.

Section II
Every person, firm, co-partnership or corporation who engages in the licenses of Motion picture shows, by me and of any machinery or otherwise by firms or slides shall pay a license of $5 per month.

Section III
For theatrical purposes, menageries, caravans or acrobatic performances by magicians, wire rope performances, or negro minstrels, a license of $15 per month.

Section IV
The provisions of this ordinance shall not apply to entertainments or exhibitions given for the benefit of churches, schools, beneficiary or instructive organizations for public (improvement) or charitable purposes by any dramatic association or literary society of the town or district in which such exhibition or entertainment is given.

Section V
The amount of any license provided by this Ordinance shall be deemed a debt owing to said Plumas County and shall be owing to said Plumas County and shall become due payable to said County of Plumas, in advance at the office of the license collector of said County.

Section VI
The County auditor must affix his seal to, number and sign all licenses by him delivered to the Licensed Collector from time to time and deliver them in such quantities as may be required taking the license collectors receipt therefore and charging him therewith, giving in his entries on his books the number, class and amounts thereof.

Section VII
The License Collector must return all stubs of all licenses sold by him, to the auditor and the auditor must key the same in his office for the period of one year after the license corresponding with such stubs, have been sold by the License Collector, and with such further time as the license account has been examined by an expert, legally appointed as such, and he shall report such license amount correct, and said experts report has been approved by the board of supervisors after which time the auditor may destroy the stubs. The auditor must also keep the ledger amount debiting the License Collector with all licenses delivered by him to the License Collector and crediting the License Collector with all moneys paid by him into the Treasury on the license account and with all blank licenses returned by him to the auditor.

Section VIII
The License Collector of Plumas County shall have the collection of the licenses provided for by this ordinance, and it is hereby made his duty to collect the same, and if any person fails, neglects, or refuses to take out and procure a license under the provisions and in the manner provided in this Ordinance, the License Collector of Plumas County shall direct the District attorney of Plumas County to bring suit in the name of the County of Plumas, for the recovery of such license, and in such case, either the License Collector or the District attorney may make the necessary affidavits, for and a writ of attachment may issue without bonds on the part of plaintiff, and in case of recovery by plaintiff $50.00 damages and costs must be added to the judgment, to be collected from defendant.

Section IX
All moneys collected for licenses under the provisions of this Ordinance shall be paid over to the County Treasurer, as other moneys are and placed to the credit of the General Fund of the County.

Section X
This Ordinance shall take effect and be in force on and after fifteen days from its passage, and all ordinances in conflict herewith are hereby repealed. Provided; however, that this Ordinance shall not be construed to affect the collection of any money due under any former ordinance or to affect in any way, any suit instituted under any former ordinance.

The above Ordinance was passed by the Board of supervisors of Plumas County at a regular meeting of said Board, held Sept. 18th, 1911 by the following vote.

Jacob Stephan -Yes. J.N.Lawrance -Yes. S.P.Jacks -Yes. H.J.Treleaven -Yes. Chas. N.Wendel -Yes.

H.N.P.McBeth, Clerk of the County of Plumas, and ex-officio clerk of the Board of Supervisors, of said County, do hereby certify that the foregoing Ordinance, entitled "Ordinance No. 173" was duly passed by the Board of Supervisors, at a regular meeting held on the 18th day of September 1911 by the following vote,

Jacob Stephan Yes, J.N. Lawrance Yes, S.P. Jacks Yes, H.J. Treleaven Yes,
Chas. N. Hendel Yes, noes; none

In witness thereof, I have here unto set my hand and affixed my official seal this 18th day of September, A.D.1911.

(Signed H.B.McBeth)
Clerk of the County of Plumas &
Ex-Officio Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, thereof
Photos of the ordinance and cover letter from the museum are below. The minutes book has large pages (11 x 15 1/2) and the ordinance is four pages long written in a nice 'copperplate' hand.

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