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.
He was one of the original members of the Bottlers’ and Manufacturers’ Association of New York.
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. (on the same block but on the other side of First Avenue) with the following description:
manufacturer of Belfast Ginger Ale, Honey Mead Soda, Sarsaparilla, Fruit Syrups and Extracts; also original manufacturer of Extract of Ginger Ale.
He was still listed at that address through 1888. In 1890/91 he was listed as a bottler in Brooklyn at 98 Wycoff Street. He was still listed at this address in 1897 but as an agent, not a 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. Their College of Dentistry occupies the former 411 First Avenue address. The 25th Street address is just east of First Avenue and is also 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.