According to his obituary in the December 15, 1905 edition of “The American Bottler” Henry Downes was one of the first makers of ginger ale in the US.
Henry Downes, the veteran bottler, died at his home, 429 Henry Street, Brooklyn on the 23rd, at the age of 72 years.
He was a native of County Clare, Ireland, and came to this country when a young man, and as a pioneer in the soda water business was one of the first manufacturers of ginger ale in this country.
Henry Downes was first listed in the 1870/1871 Trow New York City Directory at 411 1st Avenue with the occupation minerals. A year later, he was listed as a bottler at the same address. In 1873-74 he changed his address to 404 E 25th St.
This advertisement that appeared in Goulding’s 1874-1875 Business Directory mentioned his “Belfast Ginger Ale,” as well as a menu of other products he was marketing at the time.
He remained listed at the 25th Street address through 1888. Then sometime around 1890 he moved to Brooklyn where he was listed as a bottler at 98 Wycoff Street. He was still listed at this address in 1897, however, by that time his listed occupation was “agent,” not “bottler.”
Downes held the rights to at least two patents. One (No. 145139), dated December 2, 1873, and held jointly with Frederick W. Wiesenbrock was for “a fountain for soda water.” The other (196437 A) was for improvements in vent faucets for bottles, Filing Date: May 31,1877, Publication Date: October 23,1877.
Another obituary, this one in the November 25, 1905 issue of the New York Sun, said that Downes was a writer and lecturer, and for many years was connected with the Bottlers Gazette.
Today this area of First Avenue in Manhattan is heavily occupied by NYU Hospital facilities. Their College of Dentistry occupies the former 411 First Avenue address. The 25th Street address was just east of First Avenue and is now occupied by a modern building.
The bottle I found is a pony style with an applied blob finish. Its embossed with the date of 1873 which puts it on the bubble between the First Avenue and East 25th Street locations. I’ve seen bottles embossed with the Wycoff Avenue address on the Internet but have not found one.