Lion Brewery of New York City

 

The Lion Brewery, established in 1858, was located on the upper west side of New York City’s Borough of Manhattan in much of the area that would ultimately encompass 107th to 109th Streets between 9th (Columbus) and 10th (Amsterdam) Avenues. An advertisement for the brewery published years later, in 1914, made the point that the Lion and the city literally grew up together.

The Lion Brewery is geographically situated in the Heart of the City, where it was established sixty-five years ago. The first brewhouse was built in what was then known as a farming district, when Manhattan only had a population of 515,000. Within the sixty-five years the City of New York has been built around the brewery and has a population of more than 5,000,000 while the brewery has become one of the largest in the East.

This post-prohibition photograph of the brewery appeared in the January 8, 1934 edition of the Brooklyn “Times Union.”.

The business was established by brothers Albert and James Speyer, and was originally listed as  Speyers & Co. in New York City’s 1859 business directory. The Speyer name appears above the main entrance in this early depiction of the brewery found in the April 2, 1859 edition of a German publication called “The Illustrated World.”

In addition to the brewery, the Speyer’s  also maintained a depot in lower Manhattan at 257 Bowery where, according to this December 23, 1858 advertisement published in New York’s “Daily Herald,” their beer was available in stone bottles.

The following advertisement in the Brooklyn “Daily Eagle” made it clear that the Speyers’ had established a Brooklyn depot as well.

Shortly after the brewery opened, the Speyer’s touted the quality of their product in the February 9, 1859 edition of the “Daily Herald.”

THE SPERYERS LION BREWERY

Office 257 Bowery , New York

The notice of dealers and consumers of lager beer is called to the under analysis of the product of the above brewery, made by Dr. Chilton, the well known analytical chemist. The object in view is not alone to show the unrivaled superiority in purity and salubrity of this beer, but likewise to prove that no prejudicial additions (for purposes of communicating fallacious lustre, etc.) of resin, alkalies, tannin, etc., are introduced, the finest qualities of barley, malted at the brewery, and best hops to be procured in the United States, Canada or Europe being solely used in the Speyers Brewery.

The notice went on to publish this chemical; analysis of their beer.

All this was short-lived however, when less than two years after opening their doors, the October 3, 1859 edition of the “Daily Herald” reported that the brewery had been destroyed by fire.

At 10 o’clock last night a fire broke out in the extensive lager beer brewery of Albert Speyers, called the Lion Brewery, situated between 107th and 109th Streets and Eighth and Tenth Avenues. The whole of the buildings were destroyed, together with their contents. The estimated loss amounts to about $250,000 – insured for $145,000 in city companies. The origin of the fire is at present unknown.

It was at this point that a German immigrant named Emanuel Bernheimer took an interest in the Lion Brewery. The 1894 “National Cyclopedia of American Biography,” included this description of his background as well as the details leading up to his connection with the Lion.

He associated himself in 1850 with August Schmid and established the brewery known at the time as the Constanz Brewery which was located in East Fourth Street near Avenue B, New York City. This was one of the first lager beer breweries in New York. The business prospered, and two years later, the Fourth Street buildings not being large enough to supply the demand, the firm built another brewery having the same name, at Four Corners, Staten Island. The firm conducted this brewery until 1856, when Mr. Bernheimer sold his interest to his partner, Mr. Schmid. After a lapse of four years, during which he engaged in different manufacturing enterprises, Mr. Bernheimer resolved to again engage in the manufacture of lager beer. It was about this time that the Lion Brewery was consumed by fire…

The two brothers not wishing to continue the business, Mr. Bernheimer formed a co-partnership with James Speyers and rebuilt, in 1860, the present Lion Brewery, under the name Speyer & Bernheimer.

The rebuilding process had begun as early as the spring of 1860 as evidenced  by this item that appeared in the April 12th edition of the “Daily Herald” under the heading “New Buildings in the City.”

A new building for the “Lion Brewery,” which was burned sometime since. It will be situated on the corner of Ninth Avenue and 108th Street, size 150 x 147, height, four stories; cost $30,000. Will be finished by the 1st of October.

By 1862, New York City’s Copartnership and Corporation Directory listed Speyer & Bernheimer with an address of West 108th Street, near 10th Ave. The directory also listed a lower Manhattan address of 274 Grand Street, which I assume was their office/depot.

The rebuilt brewery included a beer garden and park described like this in a story featuring the Lion that was published years later in the July 23, 1934 edition of the “Brooklyn Citizen:”

In the old days when One Hundred and Eighth Street was a somnolent suburban district, city dwellers in search of pleasure and refreshment would head for Lion Park which then stood across the street from the present location of the brewery. There they found a fine hotel and restaurant, a monster beer garden and picnic grounds which stretched their cooling green shade for blocks.

One summer evening in the park was described like this in the July 8, 1866 edition of the “Daily Herald.”

THE CONCERTS AT THE LION PARK YESTERDAY

The Saturday concerts at the Lion Brewery Park during the season thus far have been very successful.They are always attended by an attractive and select audience , representing the musical portion of the New York public. The Lion Park yesterday was full of visitors, notwithstanding the excessive heat. The orchestral performances were conducted by Mr. Bergmann, and the program on the occasion embraced selections of the choicest compositions of Flotow, Strauss, Ricci, Rossini, Halevy, Meyerbeer and others. The program also included a march of Mr. W. Candidus, a well known composer of this city, a composition which has gained a good deal of popularity among the musicians of this benighted town …

…The Lion Brewery concerts are some of the most appropriate musical enterprises during the hot season.

Bernheimer’s March 29,1890 obituary in the “New York Times” went on to say that he was also one of the first to lease out beer saloons that he had established in various parts of the city. A practice that was soon adopted by many of the city’s other breweries.

Over the course of the next several years, Bernheimer’s partner in the business would change several times. According to The 1894 “National Cyclopedia of American Biography:”

Speyer & Bernheimer continued together two years, when Mr Speyer disposed of his share to August Schmid, the former partner of Mr. Bernheimer.

At this point both the Lion Brewery and Schmid’s Constanz Brewery were both managed under the Bernheimer and Schmid name as evidenced by this listing in New York City’s 1865 Commercial Directory.

Sometime in 1865 Emanuel Bernheimer and August Schmid parted ways when, according to the 1894 “National Cyclopedia of American Biography:”

August Schmid disposed of his interest to his brother, Joseph, from Rock Island, Ill. Emanuel Bernheimer and Joseph Schmid remained together until December 1, 1878, when they retired, the business being continued by their sons, Simon E. Bernheimer and August Schmid.

The two son’s partnership continued until Schmid’s untimely death in 1889. According to the June 5th edition of the The “Evening World” Schmid and another New York brewer, George Ringler, passed away within hours of each other.

Two of Our Big Brewers Dead

Two prominent brewers, well known in this city, will be buried tomorrow, and by a strange coincidence both died within three hours of each other. One was George Ringler, who died suddenly at 10 o’clock Monday night at his residence, 131 East Ninety-second Street. He was forty-seven years old and had been in the brewery business twenty-six years. His companion in death is August Schmid of the Lion Brewery who died at 2 A.M. yesterday at the Hotel Royal.

At that point, Schmid’s wife, Josephine, assumed his role in the partnership and the business continued to be called Bernhemer & Schmid. Several years after Schmid’s death, a February 12, 1894 story in New York’s “The World” provided the following snapshot of the brewery’s worth.

The plant alone is worth $1,500,000 today. Annual income, $250,000; daily income, $684; income tax, $5,000.

The brewery included among other things a stable that housed over 200 horses. During the 1890’s the stable endured at least three separate fires; in 1890, 1895 and 1898. The 1895 fire was described in the April 3rd edition of the “New York Times.”

The hayloft of the Lion Brewery stables was burned early yesterday morning  causing $10,000 damage. The Lion Brewery occupies the entire block between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues and One Hundred and Seventh and One Hundred and Eighth Streets. The stables are near Amsterdam Avenue.

The stables are a three-story stone building. There were 200 horses in the stalls of the first and second floors. The hayloft occupied one of the rooms on the third floor. The horses were untied as soon as the fire was discovered and driven out hurriedly into an open lot nearby, where most of them were cororraled. Thirty of the horses, being panic-stricken, got away, and continued their flight uptown. They are Percherons and very valuable. Twenty or more men were sent out at once after the horses and most of them had been recovered when night came..

The fire in the hay was a stubborn one, and a great many engines were called out. It took nearly two hours to get the fire under control. All the hay in the loft was ruined, either by fire or water. There was enough to have lasted until Autumn.

The Lion Brewery stables were burned four years ago, and a number of horses were killed. Bernheimer & Schmid are the proprietors of the brewery.

Around the turn of the century, disagreements arose between Simon Bernheimer and Josephine Schmid that resulted in Bernheimer appealing to the courts to have the partnership dissolved. The details were laid out in a June 22, 1900 story in the “New York Times.”

Suit was begun in the Supreme Court yesterday for a dissolution of the old established firm of Bernheimer & Schmid, proprietors of the Lion Brewery on Columbus Avenue, One Hundred and Seventh and One Hundred and Eighth  Streets, on account of a disagreement between the partners as to the conduct of the business and the desire of Simon E. Bernheimer to retire from active management of the business which was started forty years ago…

…The suit for the dissolution of the partnership was filed by Wetmore & Jenner, attorneys for Mr. Bernheimer, against Mrs. Schmid with a request for the appointment of a receiver, the sale of the assets and property as a going concern and a division of the surplus to the partners.

The complaint recites that since the formation of the present firm in 1889 the partnership has been renewed to December 1, 1897, since which time it has been continued at will by mutual consent.

It is alleged that differences between the partners have recently arisen, and have threatened to diminish and impair the business. Among other matters which Mr. Bernheimer alleges is the insistence of Mrs. Schmid that the brewmaster and superintendent of the brewery, who has been connected with the brewery for many years, shall be summarily discharged, that the product of the brewery shall be materially diminished, and new methods of manufacture and sale to which the plant is not adapted, shall be made.

An attorney named John M. Bowers was appointed as receiver in December, 1901, and a year and a half later, a July 24, 1903 “New York Times” story announced that their issues were resolved when Schmid bought out Bernheimer’s share of the business:

Justice Bischoff in the Supreme Court yesterday granted the application made yesterday by Lawyer John M. Bowers, the temporary receiver of the Lion Brewery, for permission to transfer the property now in his hands to Mrs. Josephine Schmid, who has purchased the interest of Simon E Bernheimer, her partner in the Lion Brewery, and thereby dissolved the copartnership which existed between them.

A story published years later in the January 10, 1908 edition of the “New York Times” put the purchase price  for Bernheimer’s share at $1,400,000.

On a side note: Shortly after relinquishing his share of the Lion, Bernheimer became Josephine’s neighbor when he, along with Max Bernheimer and Anton Schwartz, the Lion’s former brewmaster,  purchased the J. F. Betz  Brewery, located at Tenth Avenue and 128th Street in Manhattan.

Around the time that Schmid bought out Bernheimer, a July 2, 1903 feature published in the “Evening World” provided this description of the Lion’s operation.

A brewery, worth $5,000,000, producing half a million barrels of beer annually and yielding half a million dollars in profit, is to be owned and managed by a woman.

Think it possible?

Ask Mrs. Josephine Schmid, owner of more than 50 saloons and known as New York’s “Brewery Queen,” who is about to buy out the interests of her partners, Max E. and Simon E. Bernheimer and become sole proprietor of the Lion Brewery at One Hundred and Eighth Street and Columbus Avenue…

Besides her brewery interests, Mrs. Schmid is the sole owner of not less than fifty saloons, and when she acquires her partners’ interests she will be a part owner of thirty five more.

The feature included this turn of the century depiction of the brewery.

Shortly after she took full control of the business, Josephine Schmid incorporated it under the name of “The Lion Brewery of New York City.” This March 30, 1904 advertisement in the “Times Union” was one of the first to exhibit the newly minted corporate name.

By most accounts, Josephene had been active in the management of the brewery both before and after August Schmid’s death and according to a January 3, 1904 story in “The Sun,” her taking full control was a positive step for the brewery.

Free to carry out plans which had long been a subject of contention under the partnership agreement, she started in by reorganizing the entire working force – promoting here, discharging there, hiring new hands, etc.

Those who are well informed on the subject say that every change she made has proved to be for the best. That is saying a good deal. So far as can be learned there is no other case on record in which a woman has been the efficient active head of so large a business concern operated only by men.

Less than a year after assuming control of the business, Josephine bought the New York City brewery business of “Conrad Stein’s Sons.” This led to an odd story covered by several New York City newspapers on January 27, 1904. As reported by “The Sun:”

If the North River wasn’t drunk yesterday afternoon it ought to have been, for about 12,000 kegs of beer were dumped into it.

The beer came from Conrad Stein’s Sons’ Brewery, in Fifty-Seventh Street, near Eleventh Avenue. Some time ago the Lion Brewery got control of the Stein business, but the bill of sale did not include the building, machinery or  the supply of beer on hand. What the Lion Brewery did get was its good will and outstanding accounts. The Steins have decided to retire from business, and the building and machinery are to be sold at auction on Thursday.

When the Lion Brewery got control there were some 3,072 barrels of lager in the Stein Brewery and to keep it in the brewery the Stein concern would have to renew a bond for $75,000 with the internal revenue authorities…

A representative of the Lion Brewery said they didn’t want the beer, because it wasn’t up to their standard. Moreover, if the beer were sold some $3,000 would have to be paid out in revenue stamps.

So it was decided to let all this good beer go to waste…All the barrels were carried into the cellar and the bungs were knocked out. There are pipe connections between the floor and the sewer and the beer flowed merrily through these into the river. The pipe connections were not big enough to carry off the beer as fast as it left the barrels, however, and soon the beer was a couple of feet deep on the cellar floor.

“It was a beautiful, pale sea,” said one of the inspectors, who gloomily watched the beer go to waste.

In 1908, according to a January 10th “New York Times” story, the Lion Brewery was valued at $5,000,000 and Josephine was drawing an annual salary of $500,000. That same year, a May 23rd feature published in the Staunton (Va.) “Daily Leader” provided this verbal tour of the Lion.

A tour of inspection through the big plant reveals many features of interest surrounding the production of the famous pilsener, lager and culmbacher beers there brewed. There are for instance, the large granaries where huge bins with a total capacity of 100,ooo bushels, stand filled with malt. Nearby are piled bags filled with the other cereals which enter into the composition of Lion Brewery beer, while bales on bales of choice hops, both from this country and from Europe, are stored.

Then come the huge caldrons in which first is boiled the mash and then is cooked the resultant liquid which eventually becomes beer. Thence the visitor passes through the fermenting cellars where vats of enormous capacity stand in what seem countless rows, each filled with beer in the first stage of fermentation.

From these vats the liquid is transferred to the cellars for aging. Some of these cellars are hewn out of solid rock, 35 feet below street level. Others are above ground. The combined capacity of these vats is for an output of 600,000 barrels, thus assuring the consumer of the proper aging of the Lion Brewery beers before they are put on the market.

The tour went on to describe the stable, now with a 300 horse capacity, that also included a veterinary hospital that could treat up to 12 equine patients, an equine ambulance and a veterinary surgeon on staff.

That being said, by the time the above feature was written, the brewery was already in the process of converting from horse and wagon to gasoline powered trucks. The conversion process was articulated in the February 1, 1913 edition of a publication called “The Power Wagon.”

The Lion Brewery New York, whose plant occupies more than a city block on  Columbus Avenue between West 107th and 109th Streets, New York City, has been a user of gasoline trucks since 1906, when one 5-ton truck was put into service. A 3-ton Hewitt was purchased in 1907, and a 7-ton machine of the same make was purchased in 1909. These machines effected such a saving and opened so much territory that the services of three 3-ton and four 7-ton Hewitts and two 5-ton Macks were required during 1910. The 1912 deliveries consisted of four 5-ton G. V. electric machines.

Newspaper advertisements for their beers were few and far between however, in 1914 and 1915 they did run a series of ads that flashed the slogan:

The Lion Brewery of New York City

Makes Imported Unimportant

One ad went on to describe their Lion Pilsener as a wholesome, pure light beer which they claimed was “the first American Pilsener brew,” and “the beer that made the Lion Brewery famous.” Another described it like this:

Their medium dark Wuerzburger was described as:

Every spring during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s the brewery advertised a Bock Beer as well.

In 1917 Josephine, now with the last name del Drago after she married an Italian Prince named Don Giovanni del Drago in 1909, was sued by her daughter, Pauline Schmid Murray, who demanded $3,000,000 in damages on the score that her mother injured her interests through mismanagement. Josephine’s response, issued by her attorney and published in the April 10, 1917 edition of “The Herald,” made it clear that as early as 1917, prohibition laws, coupled with the rising cost of doing business, were both having a serious negative effect on the business.

Mr. Bowers declared that from $500,000 earned in 1909, the net receipts of the brewery have fallen to a point where they are discouraging to the proprietor. Another drawback, he stated, was the increased cost of barley and hops.

“I suppose in that respect,” remarked Justice Erlanger, “you are in the same position as your competitors.”

“Exactly,” replied the attorney. “All are up against prohibition, the high cost of brewing and five cents as the absolute limit in the price for a glass of beer.

A year later the 1918-1919 N.Y.C. Copartnership and Corporation Directory listed Pauline’s husband, Hugh A Murray as the president of the “Lion Brewery of New York City,” with both Pauline and Hugh named as directors. There’s no mention of Josephine and I suspect, but can’t confirm, that Pauline’s 1917 law suit, along with the decline in business served as the catalyst for this change.

Murray continued to serve as president until both he and Pauline died in a 1931 automobile accident.

The brewery survived the prohibition years by producing near beer as well as other items whose manufacture was readily adaptable to the equipment on hand. According to a January 21, 1919 story in the “New York Tribune,” one such item was ice.

Breweries and liquor stores of New York are already being altered to meet the new conditions that will be brought about when the nation goes “dry” on June 30.

The Lion Brewery in Manhattan is going to make ice.

“We have a capacity of 200 tons a day at this time and we shall increase the output to 400 tons a day as soon as we can get to it,” said the manager of the brewery last night.

Another was the manufacture of dyes.  A book entitled “Intemperate Spirits, Economic Adaptation During Prohibition,” by Alice Louise Kassens, explains the connection:

Brewery processing equipment was readily adaptable to synthetic chemicals. They had access to clean water, storage and fermentation tanks, filter presses, pumps, steam boilers, cooling capacity, warehouses, laboratories and chemists. Additionally, breweries were typically multi-storied which was ideal for using gravity to aid the production process of dyes.

The Lion facilitated the manufacture of dyes under a newly formed corporation called the Noil Chemical & Colors Works, Inc., a company that the August 24, 1923 edition of the “Wall Street Journal” included on a list of dye manufacturers. The Journal went on to say:

If one spells the first name of the company backwards it will be found to be “Lion.” As a matter of fact in the damp past the present dye factory was the Lion Brewing Co., situated at 108th Street and Columbus Avenue, New York City. Incidentally the new company is making one of the best dyes in the country.

The brewery survived another fire, this one on the Fourth of July, 1927 and ultimately welcomed the end of National Prohibition with this advertisement in the April 7, 1933 edition of New York’s “Daily News.”

Directly below the image the ad read:

To three generations of New Yorkers, the name “Lion Pilsener” awakens fond and pleasant memories. Broadway, when it was Broadway, Churchill’s, Rector’s, Shanley’s. Way back as far as 1850, Lion Pilsner was the compliment of good food, good music and good cheer throughout Manhattan Isle.

Today, Lion Pilsener returns. To greet old friends and win new ones…with the same old mellow, wholesome Pilsener Brew.

“It must be imported!” the old-timers used to say, “Such Pilsener is Old Country Magic.”

But how wrong they were! For every amber drop of Lion Pilsener has flowed from the crystal-lined pipes of Manhattan’s oldest and most historic brewery. And throughout New York today, good old Lion Pilsener is on tap again.

On a side note: The above advertisement, like most post-prohibition Lion advertisements, references the Lion’s start date as 1850 not 1858. 1850 was actually the year that the Constanz Brewery was established, an indication that by then, the histories of the Constanz and Lion Breweries had become commingled for marketing purposes.

A June 15, 1934 advertisement in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle made it clear that by then they had added an ale to their light and dark brews.

Later “Daily News” advertisements in 1939 and 1940 create confusion (at least in my mind) when they simply called their beer “Lion Beer,” without specifying a type.

With the Murray’s having passed away in 1931, the post-prohibition brewery was in the hands of their daughter (Josephine’s granddaughter), Mrs. Paula Murray Courdert. A January 8, 1934 story in the “Times Union”  named her husband, Frederick R. Courdert, Jr., as vice president and assistant director, Byron Clark, Jr. as vice president and Pasquale Ferri as secretary and general manager. They operated it until the early 1940’s when it was acquired by the Greater New York Brewery, Inc.

When the “Lion” brand disappeared isn’t clear to me. The last “Lion Beer” newspaper advertisement I can find that exhibits their trademark was in the October 24, 1941 edition of the “Baltimore Sun.” By that time it was being sold in a can as well.

By August 0f 1943 their brewery building was certainly abandoned and the machinery and equipment were scheduled for auction. The auction notice was published in several east coast newspapers.

Less than one month later, on September 14, 1943, the “Daily News” reported that the main six-story brewery building caught fire one last time.

Smoke billowed over upper Manhattan last night and early today while firemen fought flames in the abandoned Lion Brewery on Columbus Avenue between 107th and 108th Sts. The fire was discovered at 8:40 P.M. on the fourth floor of the six-story building, which has stood almost a century. A second alarm was sounded an hour later. Nine firemen were overcome by smoke and treated at the scene.

Finally a March 5, 1944 story in the Daily News entitled “Look Out Below” might serve as the Brewery’s obituary.

    

Starting at the top. The workman slinging the sledge hammer got this job because he doesn’t get dizzy spells at high altitudes. He’s at work demolishing the 150 foot smokestack of the old Lion Brewery, brick by brick for a total of 901,624. The land is to be used as a playground by the Board of Education.

In case you’re curious, that lone figure at the top of the stack didn’t finish the job, the wrecking ball did.

The bottle I found is a machine made, 12 ounce champagne style bottle. The heel of the bottle is embossed with their corporate name, “The Lion Brewery of New York City,” dating it no earlier than 1903 when the business incorporated under that name.  It pretty much resembles the bottles exhibited in this 1915 advertisement.

The shoulder of the bottle is embossed with their trade mark lion with its paws resting on a barrel.

The trademark was registered on September 5, 1905 and is described in detail on the patent notice below.

John J. Kane, Far Rockaway & Arverne, L. I.

John J. Kane was a bottler in New York’s Far Rockaway during the first two decades of the 1900’s. During much of the same time he was also associated with hotels located in both Far Rockaway and nearby Arverne, Queens.

Kane’s bottling operation was first listed under the heading “Wine, Liquor and Lager Beer,” in the 1904 Trow Business Directory for the Borough of Queens. He was not listed in the 1903 directory, suggesting that the business was established at around that time. Up through 1907 he just bottled beer then, according to an item in the April 15, 1907 edition of the “American Bottler, he expanded his operation to include soda water as well.

John J. Kane, a beer bottler at Far Rockaway, is going to engage in the soda water and siphon trade as well.

Queens directories and New York State liquor tax records always listed the business with a White Street (now Beach 21st Street) address in Far Rockaway; typically  “White Street 200 feet south of Mott.” Likely a saloon as well as a bottling operation, Queens telephone books between 1910 and 1920 described the business as both a “cafe” and bottling establishment.  No longer listed in the early 1920’s, the business was likely a victim of prohibition.

New York State liquor tax records also name Kane’s wife, Minnie, the certificate holder for a Far Rockaway Hotel located at Remson and McNeil (now Redfern and McNeil) from 1911 to 1914.

In addition to his Far Rockaway business endeavors, a 1910 report prepared by the New York State Superintendent of Elections, named Kane as the proprietor of a hotel in nearby Arverne, located at the northwest corner of Bouker Place (now Beach 64th Street) and the Long Island Rail Road tracks.

Back in the day many hotels included a bottling operation so it wouldn’t surprise me if Kane was bottling beer in Arverne as part of his hotel operation there. At the very least, he was certainly supplying that location from Far Rockaway.

It’s possible (but I haven’t been able to confirm) that both the bottling and hotel businesses involved other members of the Kane family besides his wife. A bottle, similar in style to Kane’s, but embossed “Kane Brothers, Far Rockaway,” can be found in the collection of Mike AKA Chinchillaman1 at http://mikesbottleroom.weebly.com (no relation to this web site).

 

In further support of this supposition, liquor tax records for the Arverne hotel list other Kane’s as the certificate holders; namely James P. Kane in 1907 and later, Andrew Kane in 1913 through 1917.

It’s not clear exactly how long the Kane’s continued in the hotel business. Census records in 1920 named John J. Kane’s occupation as the: “Proprietor of Hotel,” but by 1930, census records indicate that he and his wife Minnie, were living in Miami Florida.

I’ve found two identical bottles, each with a blob finish and embossed with both a Far Rockaway and Arverne location. They could date as early as 1903 (when the bottling business began) but likely closer to 1907 (the date of the earliest liquor tax certificate I can find for the Arverne location). Anything much later and I would expect a crown finish.

Duhme & Meyer, 115 Christopher St., N. Y.

 

Duhme & Meyer was a New York City mineral water manufacturer and a bottler of soda and beer that operated in lower Manhattan during much of the 1870’s and 1880’s. The proprietors were German immigrants Henry Duhme and Wiliam Meyer.

Census records indicate that Duhme arrived in the United States  from Hanover, Germany in 1848. By the early 1850’s he had apparently joined his brother Martin in the grocery business under the name “Duhme & Brother.” The 1851 N.Y.C. directory listed the business in lower Manhattan with an address of 17 Grand Street. By the mid-1850’s the name “Duhme & Brother” had disappeared from the directories however, both Duhme’s continued to be listed as grocers at several lower Manhattan locations up through the mid-1860’s.

It was around this time that Henry Duhme opened a saloon at 198 Bleeker Street as evidenced by the occupation he listed in the 1870 census records: “Lagerbier Saloon.” This likely occurred in 1868 when his occupation in the directories changed from “grocer” to “liquor.”

Sometime in the early 1870’s Duhme partnered with William Meyer and together they established Duhme & Meyer. Meyer had immigrated to the United States from Prussia and I suspect he had recently arrived in New York City after first settling in New Jersey.

The business of Duhme and Meyer was initially listed in the 1871 N.Y.C directory at 112 Prince Street where they remained for over ten years. Early directories (1871 to 1875) referenced the company as a “soda” business while later directories called them “bottlers.” They were certainly bottling beer as well as soda in 1875 as evidenced by a Duhme & Meyer bottle found in a collection presented on brucemobley.com. The bottle is embossed “Lager Beer” on the front, with the year 1875 embossed on the back.

 

It wouldn’t be a surprise if the bottling business was actually an outgrowth of Duhme’s saloon business and they were bottling beer from the start but that’s entirely conjecture on my part.

Sometime in 1883 Duhme & Meyer moved to 115 Christopher Street where they were listed in the N.Y.C. directories until 1886 when Duhme apparently left the business. He ultimately moved to Brooklyn where 1900 census records listed his occupation as a real estate agent. He passed away in March 1909.

The bottling business continued to operate under the management of the Meyer family after Duhme’s departure. In 1887, both William Meyer and Henry W. Meyer, were listed with the occupation “waters,” at 115 Christopher Street. Henry was almost certainly William’s son, who, according to 1880 census records, was born in 1871.

The following year William Meyer was no longer listed, apparently leaving the business in the hands of his son who continued to operate it at 115 Christopher Street up until 1898.

A bottle embossed Henry W. Meyer exhibiting  the 115 Christopher Street address was found in the collection of Mike AKA Chinchillaman1 at http://mikesbottleroom.weebly.com (no relation to this web site).

Sometime in 1898 Meyer moved the business to 218 West 22nd Street. The move was almost certainly associated with a reduction in business due to New York State’s enactment of their 1896 liquor tax law, popularly referred to as Raines Law. Among other things, the law included an $800 license fee making it difficult for much of Meyer’s small business clientele to remain in business.

Shortly after the move the business came to a tragic end when Henry W, Meyer committed suicide. A story in the May 21, 1899 edition of the New York Tribune provided the sad details.

Henry W. Meyer, head of the firm Henry W. Meyer & Co., manufacturers of soda water, committed suicide yesterday afternoon at his home, No. 215 Tenth Ave., by taking muriatic acid. The shrinking of his extensive business to a condition of poor trade by the closing up of many small dealers with whom he had a monopoly of trade is thought to have caused Myer’s act. Myer lived with his wife and four children on the second floor of the Tenth Ave. house. His factory is in Twenty second Street between Tenth and Eleventh Aves. The man had built up a large business among the small saloons in the city, especially on the East Side. The Raines Law license drove a great many of these dealers out of business, and Meyer’s trade suffered, as he found himself unable to compete with the larger dealers.

The bottle I found is a pony with an applied blob finish that includes the embossed Christopher Street address. The monogramed back includes the embossed year 1883, suggesting it was manufactured specifically to reflect Duhme & Meyer’s move to new quarters that year.

Streeteasy.com reports that today the building at 115 Christopher Street was built in 1904, so it does not date back to the time frame of the business.

Day & Brother, New York, 353 E. 20th St., N.Y.

 

Day & Brother was a New York City mineral water manufacturer and bottler that operated from the late 1860’s through the early 1890’s. Always located on the east side of Manhattan, the business was operated by several different members of the Day family over the course of their history.

Their story begins with an Irish immigrant named John W. Day who, as early as 1863 was listed in the New York City directories with the occupation “soda,” and a home address of 201 East 20th Street.

In the late 1860’s he apparently went into business with his brother, James P. Day, and by 1869 both were listed with the occupation “soda” at the 353 East 20th Street address embossed on the bottle. A year later, in 1870, the business of Day & Brother also appeared in the directories at that address.

Their advertisement appeared in the 1872 edition of Goulding’s Business Directory.

The business continued in this fashion until sometime in 1874 when James P. Day apparently left the company. Whether he passed away or simply moved on is not clear. John W. Day continued the business, ultimately moving it to 351 East 23rd Street sometime around 1877.

John W. Day passed away in November, 1878 after which his widow Catherine took over. She apparently served as the proprietor until 1886 after which management apparently transferred to her eldest son Peter S. who, according to census records turned the age of 21 that year. Peter served as proprietor from 1886 to 1891. In the early 1890’s, another son, James R. Day, was also listed with the occupation “waters,” at the East 23rd Street address.

Still listed in 1892, by 1894 Day & Brother was no longer mentioned in the directories.

The bottle I found is a six ounce pony with a blob finish. It’s embossed with the 353 East 20th Street address, dating it from approximately 1869 to 1877 when the business utilized that address.

Examples of Day & Brother bottles that exhibit their later address at 351 East 23rd Street have also appeared on the Internet. They date from 1877 to the early 1890’s

I’ve also seen a bottle for sale on the internet that’s simply embossed John W. Day, with the 353 East 20th Street address. This example also included the embossed year “1874,” which suggests that John W. used this style for a period of time in the mid-1870’s after James P. Day left the business but prior to their move to East 23rd Street, roughly 1874 to 1877.

H. Busch & Son, 116-118 Blum St., Union Hill, N. J.

 

H. Busch & Son were the proprietors of a turn of the century bottling business located in Union Hill, New Jersey. The business, by all appearances, was a small, local operation.

Herman Busch, a German immigrant, established the business, likely called H. Busch, sometime in the first decade of the 1900’s. Prior to that, 1900 census records listed Busch as a teamster living in West Hoboken.

In 1910 census records listed Busch’s occupation as the owner of a beer bottling business and his seventeen year old son, Herman Busch, Jr., was listed as a helper in the business. Digitized directories that include Union Hill are scarce, however, one I did find, the 1915 Hudson County Business Directory, listed H. Busch & Son as bottlers at the address listed on the bottle, 116 Blum Street. So, based on this listing, Herman, Jr. was viewed as a partner in the business no later than the mid-teens. In 1920, census records listed both father and son as bottlers of soda.

By 1930 Busch Sr. had retired and Busch Jr. was a truck driver living in Jersey City so the business apparently dissolved sometime in the 1920’s.

Union Hill merged with West Hoboken becoming Union City, New Jersey in 1924. Three years later, in 1927, Blum Street was renamed 36th Street. Shown below is 116 36th Street in Union City, courtesy of Google Earth. Assuming the street numbering system remained unchanged, this could be where the business operated. According to Trulia.com the el-shaped building includes office space, warehouse space, a loading dock and a parking area in front; everything you need to operate a bottling business. Sadly there’s no information on when it was built.

The bottle I found is a 28 oz., mouth blown tooled crown that fits with the early years of the business.

Hicksville Bottling Co., Hicksville, N. Y., “ROXY”

 

Long Island New York’s Hicksville Bottling Company had its roots with the mineral water business of a man named Edgar Davis. When Davis started the business is not clear, however, bottles produced for the Hicksville Bottling Company in the 1940’s and 1950’s include the phrase “Since 1873,” so it’s possible that it’s inception extended back that far.

 

A September 4, 1886 local newspaper story specifically referenced Edgar Davis as a bottler so it’s clear he was up and running by the mid 1880’s.

In 1894, brothers-in-law William F. Staude and Charles Fassbender purchased the business from Davis. The transaction was announced in the May 12, 1894 edition of a Huntington, New York newspaper called “The Long-Islander.”

William F. Staude of the Roadside Hotel and Charles Fassbender, collector for the Ulmer Brewing Company have bought out the mineral water business of Edgar Davis and have leased the old Pahde property where they will carry on a bottling business on a large scale. Both young men are sons in law of August Fleischbein, proprietor of the Grand Central Hotel and are well-known. We wish them success.

As far as I can tell their initial location was near the Hicksville train depot on the northeast corner of East Marie Street and Railroad Avenue. A map, circa 1914, confirmed their plant was located there by that time.

Not just associated with mineral water, this advertisement, published in the September 21, 1907 edition of the Brooklyn Times Union also labeled them as beer bottlers and wine and liquor dealers.

The advertisement specifically mentioned Ulmer Cabinet Beer. According to Fassbender’s April 12, 1922 obituary published in the Brooklyn Standard Union he worked for Brooklyn’s Ulmer Brewery from 1880 to 1920.

During his forty years connected with the Ulmer Brewing Company, Mr. Fassbender advanced himself from clerk to personal collector for Brooklyn and Long Island. He also handled a considerable portion of its real estate dealings with its various agencies.

So, it’s no surprise that the company not only bottled Ulmer beer, but almost certainly bottled it from the start in 1894. Recognizing that their father-in-law, August Fleischbein, owned Hicksville’s Grand Central Hotel including its 600 person capacity hall, it’s also likely they had an immediate market for their products.

Staude passed away in 1917 and Fassbender ultimately sold the business in 1921. The sale was reported in the August edition of the American Bottler.

HICKSVILLE BOTTLING PLANT CHANGES HANDS

The Hicksville Bottling Co., at Hicksville, Long Island, has been purchased by Jac. Friedman, who was formerly connected with the Christ Wagner Bottling Co., of Java Street, Brooklyn. Charles S. Fassbender was the former owner of the plant, which he had successfully conducted for a number of years.

Polish immigrants, the Friedman’s apparently operated the business as a family affair. In addition to Jac (Jak), 1930 census records indicate that Eli Friedman, likely his brother, as well as Jak’s two sons, Louis and William, were all involved in the business. Census records in 1940 continued to associate the Friedman’s with the business.

It was the Friedman’s who, during Prohibition, began utilizing the name “Roxy.” They trademarked the name in 1930, but their application indicated that it had been in use since July 1, 1926.

After Prohibition they were back in the beer business as evidenced by this May 26, 1937 advertisement in the New York Daily News listing them as a Brooklyn and Long Island distributor for the Fidelio Brewery. By then the company had apparently moved, listing their address as 10-2 Lenox Avenue in Hicksville.

Another advertisement, this one published in the March 17, 1939 edition of the Nassau Daily Review named them as a distributor for New York City’s John Eichler Brewing Company as well.

The company, as well as the Roxy brand, endured well into the 1950’s and possibly longer. As late as 1957, this July 21 New York Daily News advertisement listed “Roxy – dietetic” (halfway down the second column) as a beverage made with Sucaryl.

           

Recently I heard from a grand daughter of the Friedman’s who read the initial version of this post. Her father drove a truck for the business while home from college and he provided some additional history.

The article is accurate to my knowledge but it doesn’t mention that Eli eventually bought out his brother who started Glen Cove Bottling. I believe we sold the business in late 1966 or early 1967.

The bottle I found is machine made with the Hicksville Bottling Co. name embossed on the bottom. The name “Roxy” is embossed on both sides in a style matching the patented trademark.

      

The bottle was likely made in the late 1920’s or 1930’s, and certainly no earlier than July, 1926 when the trademark application declared it was first used.

The company also used the Roxy name on siphon bottles as evidenced by this item recently offered for sale on the internet.

 

Rising Sun Brewing Co., Elizabeth, N. J.

 

The Rising Sun Brewing Company was in operation for almost 50 years during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Located in the  vicinity of 7th Street and Marshall Street in Elizabeth, New Jersey, it was one of just two major  breweries located in that city.

Established in 1887, the roots of the business date back much earlier. According to a 1901 publication called “One Hundred Years of Brewing:”

John F. Wagner commenced brewing lager beer at Elizabeth N. J., in 1865, and the continuation of the business, to which has been added the manufacture of ale and porter, is in the hands of the Rising Sun Brewing Company.

Wagner was listed in the Elizabeth directories as a brewer from the mid 1870’s up until 1883. At that point it appears that he turned the operation over to Benjamin Witter who called it the Orient Brewery.

Within a year, newspaper accounts across the nation announced that a boiler explosion had destroyed the brewery. The September 24, 1884 edition of the Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Times Leader told the story like this:

A BREWERY BURNED

ELIZABETH N. J., Sept. 23. – This evening an upright boiler in Witter’s brewery exploded, the fragments being thrown through the roof and 300 feet from the building. The brewery immediately took fire and was totally consumed, together with its contents. F. W. Bauer’s grocery store adjoining was also burned. The loss is about $25,000. Two men were reported to have been killed by the explosion, but the report lacks confirmation.

A year later on December 5, 1885 Camden N. J.’s Morning Post announced that the business had failed.

Failure of a Brewery

ELIZABETH, N. J., Dec 5 – The failure is reported of the Orient Brewery in this city, Benjamin Witter, proprietor, for the sum of $31,000.

An advertisement published three months later, in the February 23, 1886 edition of the Elizabeth Daily Journal, indicated that the brewery, still called the Orient Brewery, was back up and running by then. The brewery also ran this advertisement in the 1886 Elizabeth directory.

A year later, in 1887, the Rising Sun Brewing Company had incorporated and was listed at the former address of the Orient Brewery. Whether the cost of rebuilding ultimately forced Witter to sell the brewery due to bankruptcy or the new owners of the business rebuilt and operated it for a year under the old name is not clear. Nonetheless, by 1887 it was certainly under new ownership.

“The City of Elizabeth Illustrated,” published in 1888 by the Elizabeth Daily Journal, described the operation in its first year or so.

The Rising Sun Brewing Company was incorporated under the laws of the State of New Jersey, on March 2, 1887, with a capital of $50,000. The incorporators are citizens of Elizabeth, who are interested in the development of home trade, which they supply with a wholesome article of ale and lager beer.

In addition to their home trade the Rising Sun Brewing Company have an extensive business in Newark and New York City, which they supply with their products.

The business of the company is growing rapidly, and the present output of beer is at the rate of thirty thousand barrels per annum. The quality of the beer, which is of the finest, is equaled only by a few breweries and surpassed by none.

The 1888 feature also included a description of the physical plant along with a rendering.

The buildings are substantially built of brick, and are situated at Nos. 29 to 35 Seventh Street, corner of Marshall Street. The premises are amply  supplied with all of the modern appliances for the manufacture of ale and beer. They have a complete equipment of horses and wagons for transportation purposes. The present buildings were put up a few years ago on the site of a brewery which had been destroyed by fire, and the extensive plant presents an imposing appearance, the wagons and teams in the vicinity of the brewery presenting a scene of constant activity.

By 1890 the Elizabeth business directory listed the business under the title of both “brewers” and “beer bottlers,” so it appears they were likely bottling their own beer close to, if not at the start of the new company.

The brewery grew with Marshall Street serving as its central spine. The manufacturing plant was located on the west side of the street while the offices and distribution facilities were located on the east side. This  1930 photograph of the brewery shows Seventh Street running from foreground to background and Marshall Street across the picture. The brewery is the building  pictured on the right, with the towered office and distribution plant plainly visible across the street. According to a September 18, 1932 story in the N. Y. Daily News the beer was piped from vats located in the brewery under Marshall Street to kegs in the distribution plant.

As early as the late 1800’s you could grab a “Rising Sun – Special” on draught, “after business hours or, when at your leisure,” at Elizabeth’s  Cafe Broeker. Their beer menu, printed in the 1897 Elizabeth N.J. directory, mentioned that you could also enjoy a Salvator, brewed by Peter Breidt. Breidt’s City Brewery was the only other major brewery located in Elizabeth at the time.

Originally Rising Sun was in the hands of several Elizabeth, New Jersey businessmen including Charles Seeber who, according to his January 18, 1900 obituary, was the principal stockholder. Seeber served as president of the company up until his death in 1900. At that point, another stockholder, Phillip Schauble, assumed the presidency with Seeber’s son, George, serving as vice president.

Four years later, a story in the November 25, 1904 edition of the Central New Jersey Home News reported that the Rising Sun business had changed hands.

ELIZABEH, NOV. 25 – One of the most important real estate deals transacted in the city in recent years took place Wednesday when the Rising Sun Brewery here changed hands and is now in the control of a syndicate represented by Alderman Edward Neugent as president. The price was $300,000, all of which was delivered in cash…

The syndicate will conduct the business on a much larger scale than heretofore, and will also enlarge the facilities of the plant.

Two months later, in January, 1905, the stockholders elected George Seeber as president, a position he held up through the start of Prohibition and beyond.

In addition to Alderman Neugent, stockholders in the new company included the former governor of New Jersey (1898 to 1902) Foster M. Vorhees and the head of Citizen’s Bank, H. Hayward Isham. An October 27, 1905 story in the (Bridgewater N. J.) Courier-News, explained that this roster of influential individuals allowed them to conduct “business as usual.”

This is Plainfield and Union County politics, but it is also politics everywhere else. The Rising Sun Brewing Company of Elizabeth….owns or controls a large proportion of the saloons in Union County. Among its stockholders are men high in official authority and powerful in the councils of both political parties. It controls the granting of licenses to such an extent that brewers in other counties can hardly obtain licenses to sell their beers in Union, and it commands the saloon vote so completely that politicians and bosses are glad to do its bidding in return for its influence at election time. “The saloon in politics” is a misnomer, so long as brewers can own the saloons and crack the whip over political bosses of both parties.

Prior to Prohibition the company marketed their light brew under the name “Bohemia” and their dark beer as “Seeber.” An advertisement for Bohemia appeared in several December, 1913 editions of the Central New Jersey Home News.

Another advertisement, this one in the September 15, 1915 edition of the Hackensack (N. J.) Record, pitched a free advertising tray to be included with the sale of each case.

The sun has arisen. The Rising Sun Brewing Co., Bohemia Beer. Pure malt and hops only. $1.00 per case, 24 bottles. A beautiful tray given with each case of beer.

It’s possible that the tray pictured below, recently offered for sale on the internet, could be a surviving example of this advertised offer.

With the advent of National Prohibition the company began advertising a non-alcoholic version of both Bohemia and Seeber, now marketing them under the singular name – See-bo (light and dark).

Newspaper advertisements for See-bo began appearing in late 1919 and early 1920; the following appearing in the January 20, 1920 edition of the Passaic (N. J.) Daily News.

Around the same time another advertisement creatively delivered their marketing pitch, cleverly avoiding the fact that it was non-alcoholic.

Not a “near”-this, nor a “near” -that but the ACTUAL THING. You can’t mistake it for anything but what it really is. Touches the spot as nothing else can. Made in a plant that knows how, and bottled right here at the brewery – as good when it reaches you as when it leaves us. Just try it – order a case (light or dark, or assorted) from your dealer or grocer, or telephone the local distributor.

Within a year they had added both a “Half & Half,” and a non-alcoholic ale called “Dublin Brew” to their menu as well.

Newspaper advertisements for these products, plentiful in the early 1920’s, completely disappear by 1924. Around this time it appears that Seeber leased the brewery to others. Names mentioned in newspaper stories over the next several years mention Louis Parkowitz and later the Oneida Manufacturing Co. as lessees, however, other stories suggest that the brewery was actually being run by New York gangster Waxey Gordon. The history of the brewery during the latter half of the 1920’s serves to support this suggestion.

The brewery was certainly illegally brewing and distributing real beer as evidenced by this December 8, 1928 story in the (New York) Daily News.

Court action yesterday prevented a general smashup of the Rising Sun Brewery at Elizabeth N. J., after dry agents had made an ax-and-crow-bar raid there. And the agents needed police protection, because of the unpopularity they had achieved.

Elizabeth likes its beer, and the crowd that gathered when blows of ax and hammer resounded through the neighborhood was in no friendly mood.

Just after daybreak five agents from New York, led by W. J. Calhoon, battered their way through the gates. A truck sped through another gate and got away and ’tis said, it carried with it a full load of brew. A crowd collected about the place and its attitude was such that the Elizabeth police were summoned.

Later the agents set about to dismantle the plant. But along came a temporary restraining order from Judge Runton in Newark to spoil that sport. It seems, according to the attorney for the brewery, that the raiders had forgotten the formality of getting a search warrant.

One man, Louis Parkowitz, was found in the brewery. He was released in $1,000 bail.

The brewery survived this incident but wasn’t able to survive another incident in 1930 when an enforcement agent was shot and killed during a government raid. A September 20, 1930 Daily News article told the story; a story that brings to mind the “Untouchables” television show.

A raiding dry agent, already marked for death, was killed yesterday in a gun battle between brewery guards and Philadelphia prohibition operatives , who were trapped by the gangsters in the fortress-like Rising Sun Brewery at Elizabeth, N. J.

The dead man was John J. Finiello, ace of Philadelphia raiders, who had a reputation for being incorruptible.

“Get the rat!” said one of the gunmen, pointing to Finiello who stood with raised hands.

Sensing the peril, the agent reached for his revolver, and fired twice, but he died with eight bullets in his body. Five of the shots pierced the search warrant which was in one of Finiello’s pockets.

Later, according to an October 3, 1930 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the story got better.

John G. Smith, chief of Federal prohibition agents led a squad to the Rising Sun Brewery, followed an underground passageway and went up at the other end into a blacksmith’s shop where he found 1,500 half barrels of beer. Julius H. Russell, owner of the building was arrested and held pending an investigation.

The next day’s edition of the Daily News included a photo of the illicit beer barrels.

After well over a year of legal proceedings, the March 2, 1932 edition of the Courier-News announced that the brewery had been ordered padlocked.

Federal Judge William Clark yesterday ordered the Rising Sun Brewery in Elizabeth where John Finiello, dry agent, was killed during a raid, padlocked for one year.

Counsel for company consented to the order, ending suddenly proceedings the government instituted many months ago. The brewery was raided in Sept., 1930, but the defendant company carried the issue of the legality of the raid to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals, where the bench warrant was held valid.

The padlock was removed on April 7, 1933 and on February 14, 1934 the Courier-News announced the brewery’s reopening.

Elizabeth – Formal opening of the Rising Sun Brewing Co, this city, was attended by a large number of city officials and other citizens today. The plant, closed during prohibition days, was the scene of the shooting of John G. Finiello, a prohibition agent, in September 1930, during a raid…

Shortly after the re-opening the company apparently changed its name to the Seeber Brewing Company.  The business was certainly a family affair as evidenced by the 1935 Elizabeth directory listing for the Seeber Brewing Company that named George Seeber, Jr. as manager (George Seeber Sr. passed away in 1930), Herbert Seeber as vice president, John Seeber as “brewery worker” and Phillipine Seeber as secretary. The listing also included the phrase “brewers since 1877,” so they continued to acknowledge their “Rising Sun” history.

This July 2, 1936 advertisement in the  Montclair (N. J) Times demonstrated that they also stayed true to the former “Rising Sun” brands.

Unfortunately the Seeber Brewing Company’s lifespan was short. According to the September 14, 1937 edition of the Hackensack Record:

The Seeber Brewing Company of Elizabeth, successor to the Rising Sun Brewing Company, faced liquidation today under a Federal court order.

The May 17, 1939 edition of the Courier-News reported that the plant was ultimately taken over by the Schultz Brewery of Union City N. J. but their occupancy was even more short-lived.

The Schultz Brewing Company of Elizabeth was ready today for a public sale of its assets. Federal Judge Guy L. Fake signed an order yesterday directing the sale of the company on May 25. The company which moved from Union City to Elizabeth recently to take over the Seeber Brewing Company, said it could not meet bills accumulated since last September and could not pay back $17,000 it had borrowed.

Today, a scan of Google Earth reveals that very little remains of the brewery complex. One possible exception is a brick building that includes a smokestack located at 650 Marshall Street.

Another, also brick with a modified entrance,  lies right across the street at 647 Marshall Street.

The bottle, actually found in the bay by a friend of mine, is export style and machine made. It certainly resembles the bottle shown in early 1920’s See-bo advertisements.

  

It’s likely from the Prohibition era or possibly a Bohemia or Seeber bottle from the decade prior.

Gowdy’s Medicated Beer, Manufactured 10 Ormond Place, Trademark L&S (Smith & Layton)

 

The L&S trademark embossed on the bottle represents the Brooklyn, N.Y. business of James E. Smith and Elbert (sometimes Albert) Layton. The roots of the business date back to 1875 when Smith was listed individually in the Brooklyn City Directory at 10 Ormond Place with the occupation of “root beer.”

Layton apparently joined Smith in business sometime in the early 1880’s and the partnership of Smith & Layton was first listed at the Ormond Place address in 1883. It remained listed in the Brooklyn directories up through 1911, always with the 10 Ormond Place address.

Their bottling notice was published in several February and March, 1889 editions of the Brooklyn Citizen.

The letters “L&S,” trademarked on July 24, 1890, and the pictorial representation of a five-pointed star highlighted in the notice are clearly visible, embossed on the subject bottle.

An August 7, 1892 story in the Brooklyn Citizen featured the business and their products.

It is often a question of a great many people during very warm weather such as we have been experiencing during the past two weeks, what it is best to drink…

While he is making his examination it would be well for him to remember that there is nothing more refreshing than a drink that is impregnated with carbonic acid gas. At the same time such a drink is quite healthful, and provided the flavoring extracts are not injurious, there is no reason why a carbonated beverage should not be the one chosen by the seeker after healthful, and at the same time refreshing drinks. Among the manufacturers of these carbonated beverages is the firm of Smith and Layton, whose establishment is at No. 10 Ormond Place. They have established a reputation that is more than local, because of the delightful flavor of the goods they turn out, and above all, because of the purity of the flavoring extracts with which they impart the palatable flavor that has helped to make their goods so popular. Then the water used by this firm is all filtered and distilled, and thereby is freed from the possibility of its being impure from organic matter or microbes. They manufacture lemon soda, ginger ale, sarsaparilla, root beer, and have recently placed a new drink on the market which they call Neopolitan cream.

Later that decade, a company advertisement in the February 13, 1898 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle announced that their mineral waters had won an award at Brooklyn’s annual Food Show.

As early as the late 1880’s the company’s territory had expanded beyond Brooklyn, reaching east to parts of Long Island as evidenced by their inclusion in this July 1, 1889 Brooklyn Daily Eagle advertisement for the Northport (Suffolk County) business of Green & Wheeler.

While the company could certainly have served as the bottler for a brewery (PABST was making a medicated beer in the 1890’s), there’s no mention that I can find for a Gowdy’s brewery. That, coupled with the fact that the business was always listed in the directories as a manufacturer of mineral water and soda, leads me to believe that their medicated beer was actually a root beer. A description of root beers in a July 2, 1875 Brooklyn Union Times Story seems to bear this out, referencing medicated beer as a class of root beer.

Of root beers there is an endless variety of names, but they are much the same in composition. Birch beer, spruce beer, root beer, Ottawa beer, medicated beer, Green Mountain beer, Otaki beer, Madoc beer, and scores of others are of about the same taste, chiefly compounded of essential oils of sarsaparilla, sassafras, birch, dandelion, dock, wintergreen and other healthful botanical substances. They are ready for use in a few days after brewing, as yeast which is the “working” principle operates very speedily upon the whole mass. Molasses and sugar are used for sweetening , and the compounds are either manufactured in the shops where they are sold, or exported from the factories in store bottles and kegs, and placed on draught. Root beers are generally healthful, but should, like all fermented drinks, be used moderately as they are liable to exercise a purgative influence.

Whether the name Gowdy’s was their brand or the brand of another business that they manufactured and bottled for is unclear.

The Smith & Layton business dissolved in July, 1911. The Dissolution Notice, published in the July 25, 1911 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle indicated that neither original partner was still associated with the business at that time.

As fas as I can tell, Wilson Smith was the younger brother of James E. Smith and William Marquart was a grocer whose store was listed within several blocks of Smith & Layton at 1165 Fulton Street.

Note: Elbert Layton was no longer listed in the Brooklyn directories by 1907 so its possible he retired, moved or passed away around that time with his place in the firm being taken by local businessman Marquart. Smith was still listed individually in 1910 but not in 1914 so his younger brother may have inherited the business in 1911 with no interest in continuing it. (All conjecture on my part.)

Ormond Place, located in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, was later renamed Claver Place. According to street easy.com, the current building at 10 Claver Place was built in 1930 so it doesn’t date back to the days of Smith & Layton.

The bottle I found is approximately 27 oz. with a tooled blob finish. It fits the time frame from 1890 (registration date embossed on the bottle) to 1911 (dissolution of the business).

Bay Shore Bottling Co., Bay Shore, L. I., N. Y.

This advertisement published in  several editions of Babylon’s South Side Signal between August and November, 1896 identified the Bayshore Bottling Company as a carbonated water manufacturer that produced mineral water, as well as soda, sarsaparilla, ginger ale and root beer.

They also bottled beer as evidenced by this July 7, 1907 advertisement published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that listed the company as a local bottler for Brooklyn’s S. Liebmann Sons brewery (3rd on the list).

A story published in the April 20, 1978 edition of the Islip Town Bulletin identified the proprietor as Lou Smith and listed the company’s location as the “northeast corner of Union Blvd and Fourth Avenue.” The story went on to describe the end of the business.

Lou Smith grew old, as we all do, and when his sons expressed no desire to continue the business, he sold it to Charles Mecklenberg along with the boarding house which went with the property. The year was 1919…

Upon purchasing the Bottling Plant a gas station was erected and a regular oil and kerosene depot emerged.

The story mentioned a boarding house associated with the property. Census records listed Lewis (sometimes Larvis, sometimes Louis) Smith’s  occupation as “hotel proprietor” in both 1900 and 1910. That being said, it’s almost certain that the hotel and bottling operations were connected (which was common back then) and operational from at least the mid 1890’s to 1919.

1870 Census records listed Lewis Smith’s mother, Caroline, with the occupation “selling liquors,” so it’s possible that the roots of the business date back much earlier than the 189o’s.

Courtesy of Google Earth, its evident that today the northeast corner of Union Boulevard and Fourth Avenue remains an operational gas station.

The bottle I found is the Hutchinson style with a tombstone slug plate that fits a late 1800’s to early 1900’s time frame.

Thanks to Howie Crawford, President of the Long Island Antique Bottle Association, for pointing me in the direction of the 1978 Islip Town Bulletin story.

Union Bottling Co., 240 & 242 East 20th St., New York

The Union Bottling Company story starts with Isaac A. Moran who, according to 1860 census records, operated a “public house” in Manhattan where he’s listed in the NYC directories as early as 1845 at East 17th St., corner of Third Avenue.

In 1868, he partnered with his brother Marcius (sometimes Marcus) and they established a soda/mineral water manufacturing and bottling business at 83 Third Avenue (later 91 Third Avenue) under the name Isaac A. Moran & Brother.

Sometime in 1873 they changed the name of the business to the Union Bottling Company and, around the same time, established factories at 240 East 20th Street and 119 East 124th Street. According to this item published in the August 1, 1875 edition of the Daily Herald, at the time the company bottled soda water, ginger ale and cider, as well as beer and ales.

Up through 1888 Marcius and Isaac Moran served as president and secretary of the company respectively, then in 1889 a second company was established with the Moran Brothers associated with both.

The Union Bottling Company continued to be listed in the 1890 NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory with Peter P. Krummeich now named as president and Marcius Moran, secretary. The company address was solely listed at the 240 East 20th Street location.

The new company, called the Moran Bottling Company, was listed at the 119 East 124th Street address with Issac A. Moran named as president. Initial directors of the company included New York City brewers William and Phillip Ebling, so its possible that the business had been established to serve as a bottler for the Ebling brewery but I haven’t been able to confirm this.

The Moran’s remained associated with both companies until 1894 when they apparently retired. According to an item published in the September 15, 1896 edition of the New York Times, on January 1, 1894 Krummeich partnered with Lorenz Geuken, and bought the Union Bottling Company plant and continued the business as a copartnership. Around the same time, they moved the company to 517 West 25th Street.

Within three years, the business, likely financed by a relative of Geuken’s, was in financial trouble. The New York Times item went on to say:

Lorenz Geulen and Peter P.Krummeich, doing business as the Union Bottling Company, bottlers of beer and beverages at 513 to 519 West Twenty-fifth Street, made an assignment yesterday to James Graham, giving a preference to Cornelia Geuken of Rotterdam Holland, for borrowed money…

They have suffered from hard times and the Raines law, and collections have been very slow. Their liabilities are said to be about $40,000 and nominal assets $54,000, a large part of which consists of the plant.

The Union Bottling Company was still listed in the 1901 Copartnership and Corporation Directory with Lorenz Geuken now named as the sole proprietor, so the business survived its financial difficulties, losing Krummeich along the way.

The next year a New York Corporation named the Manhattan Union Bottling Company, capital $15,000,  was listed at the 517 West 25th Street address with Charles A. Miller and Charles W. Hagemann, named as president and secretary, respectively. Gueken was no longer mentioned. Short-lived, the corporation was no longer listed in the 1906 directory.

The Moran Bottling Company continued to be listed at 119 East 124th Street up through 1904 with several different proprietors including James A. McKain (1901), Charles Polansky (1902) and Julius Goldberg (1903). The last listing I can find for the company was in 1906, with an address of 502 East 118th Street.

The bottle I found is mouth blown. Oddly, it’s not exactly a hutchinson or a pony, but shaped more like a can with abrupt shoulders and a blob finish. It’s embossed with the 240 & 242 East 20th Street address which dates it no later than 1894 when the Union Bottling Company moved to West 25th Street.