The A stands for Anthony (Anton) Wolff.
Wolff is first listed in the 1880 NYC Directory as a maltster with a home address of 330 East 47th Street. In the 1884 directory he’s listed as beer with a home address of 226 East 56th Street.
Then from 1886 through 1912 he’s listed in various NYC directories as a bottler (or sometimes beer) on East 55th Street. He listed several addresses over the years, all on 55th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue, primarily 204 East 55th St.
The March 28, 1889 issue of the newspaper “The Daily Graphic” Lists 24 Bottle Registration Notices from different bottlers. A Wolff is one of them. His states:
To All Whom it May Concern: I Anthony Wolff doing business and trading as the Central Bottling Co, certify that I am engaged in bottling and selling lager beer, ale and porter and other beverages, and use and have the sole right to use my name, marks and devices branded, stamped, etched, blown or otherwise produced upon my bottles and boxes, a description of which distinguishing names and marks is as follows: Glass bottles on which is “Central Bottling Co” and “A Wolff”; other bottles with “Central Bottling Co”; other bottles “A Wolff”. Boxes on which is “Central Bottling Co” and “A Wolff”. CENTRAL BOTTLING CO. By A WOLFF.
The business is listed in the Annual Report of Factory Inspectors of the State of New York in 1896 and 1898. In 1898 they listed 6 male employees.
Several New York State newspapers covered a fire that included Wolff’s plant that occurred on August 25th, 1898.
The explosion of a large ammonia tank used in the making of artificial ice set fire at an early hour this morning to Jacob Hoffman’s Crescent Brewery, a 5-story brick structure at 206 and 208 East Fifty-fifth Street. The flames spread with marvelous rapidity and the Central Bottling Company’s plant, of which A. Wolff is the proprietor, at 202 East Fifty-fifth Street soon caught fire. Within a very short time the entire block surrounded by Third Avenue, Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth streets were doomed.
The surrounding tenements, all filled with sleeping people, next ignited and the bewildered tenants began to pour out into the streets by the hundreds. Alarm after alarm was turned in by the police, and by the early arrivals of the firemen, until four alarms had sounded and 18 engines and five hook and ladder trucks were on the scene. As a precaution several ambulances were called from Bellevue and other hospitals. Many thrilling rescues of frightened men, women and children were made by the firemen.
Wolff’s business must have survived the fire because he remained at 55th Street through 1912.
In 1912 the American Bottler reported that Wolff resigned his membership in the organization that year. He’s not listed in the 1914 NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory, so I have to think the business ended in 1912.
In the NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directories between 1905 and 1914 there is also a Central Bottling Co listed at 617 11th Avenue (it’s listed under Central). In the same directories Wolf is listed under Wolff as “Wolff A., Central Bottling Co. (RTN) (Anton W. Wolff).” Based on this there doesn’t appear to be a connection.
204 E 55th Street lies within the current footprint of 909 Third Avenue. Interestingly, a bar/restaurant called PJ Clarke’s is located directly across the street at 205 E 55th Street. A New York fixture, Clarkes is well over 100 years old, claiming to be unchanged since 1884. I gotta believe it was Wolff’s lunch spot!!
The bottle I found is a champagne style (12 oz) with a tooled blob finish. It fits within the 1886 to 1912 time frame of the business.