Montauk Wine & Liquor Co., 2043 Fulton St., Brooklyn, N.Y. & 96 Village Avenue, Rockville Centre, L.I.

 

The Montauk Wine & Liquor Company was apparently active from the late 1800’s until at least 1917 or 1918. Their Brooklyn address was 2043 Fulton Street in the East New York section.

The company was not listed in Brooklyn’s general directories but was listed in Lain’s Brooklyn Business directories and later, the Brooklyn Phone Books from 1899 to 1917. They were not listed in the 1892 Business Directory suggesting that they started in business sometime between 1893 and 1898 (I don’t have access to the business directories for those years). At times they were listed under the heading “Wine & Liquor Dealers – Wholesale” and other times under the retail heading of “Wines, Liquors and Lager Beer,” and still other times under both headings.

The company was apparently quite small, incorporating with capital of $3,000. in 1908. Their incorporation notice, printed in the January 25 edition of the (Brooklyn) Daily Standard Union named A. DeWillers and Isaac Weinoten of Brooklyn and Isaac Sobel of New York as directors. By 1914, the Brooklyn and Queens Copartnership and Corporation Directory named Max Weinstein as the sole director, with no mention of the original 1908 directors.

The company maintained a liquor tax certificate at the 2043 Fulton Street address up through at least September 30, 1916 and was still listed in the February 1917 Brooklyn-Queens section of the NYC Telephone Book. They were not listed in 1920 suggesting that they did not survive the advent of Prohibition.

Ultimately the corporation was included on a list of 2266 Brooklyn corporations dissolved under a proclamation signed by Governor Alfred E Smith on January 13, 1926. The list appeared in the March 9, 1926 edition of the Brooklyn Standard Union under the following heading:

PROCLAMATION STATE OF NEW YORK EXECUTIVE CHAMBER ALBANY

Pursuant To section one hundred and seven of the stock corporation law, as added by chapter three hundred and nine of the laws of nineteen hundred and twenty-four, I, Alfred E. Smith, Governor of the State of New York, do proclaim and declare the corporations named in the following list, which has been transmitted to me by the Secretary of State, are dissolved and their charters forfeited by reason of their failure to report as required by the statute aforesaid.

The company also included the Rockville Centre, Long Island address of 96 Village Avenue on the embossing of the bottle I found.  I haven’t been able to connect the Montauk Wine & Liquor Company name with this Rockville Centre address, however that address did maintain a liquor tax certificate for several years in the mid-teens (1911 to 1917) under the name Meyer Hecker. It’s possible that Hecker was Montauk’s Long Island agent during part or possibly all of their existence.

On September 1, 1917, Meyer Hecker’s name was included on a list of businesses that were refused a liquor license for the upcoming year beginning October 1, 1918. Regardless, it appears that several members of the Meyer family continued to operate the business, albeit illegally, at 96 Village Avenue up through at least 1920. A story in the May 14, 1920 edition the Brooklyn Standard Union described a federal raid on their operation at that time.

Prohibition agents Connolly, White, O’Leary and Scanlon visited the wholesale liquor house of Herman Hecker, 96 Village Avenue, Rockville Centre, and seized tweet-five barrels and 117 cases of Gugenheimer bonded whiskey and arrested the proprietor and his son, David Hecker.

The arrest was made because of an alleged sale of a quart of wine, for which a marked bill was given as payment. Following the alleged illegal sale, the son, David Hecker, was charged with possessing the liquor, in that he took the quart of wine and wrapped it up for delivery.

The revenue men then entered and seized the entire stock found on the premises and will bring action against another twenty-five barrels of bonded whiskey in Government storehouse for violating the dry law.

Federal Commissioner McCabe held father and son for hearing later.

The case was included in a “Listing of Cases Disposed of Since the Volstead Law Went Into Effect” that was printed in the April 3, 1921 edition of the Brooklyn Standard Union. It indicated that David Hecker had been acquitted but that Meyer Hecker, obviously still head of the operation, had received a jail sentence of 15 days. (The list did not include Herman Hecker.)

The bottle I found is a flask roughly one pint in size. It exhibits both the Brooklyn and Long Island locations of the business. Mouth blown it was likely made on the earlier side of the 1899 to 1917 period that the business operated legally.

Stewart Distilling Company

  

The Stewart Distilling Company was in business from 1909 until the mid-1920’s but the company’s roots date back much earlier to an Irish immigrant named Robert Stewart. According to 1900 census records, Stewart was born in 1836 in County Antrim, Ireland and immigrated to the United States in 1854. His July 10, 1901 obituary in the Baltimore Sun stated:

When a lad of 18 years he came to this country and settled in Baltimore. In 1886 he started a distillery in Highlandtown.

Between 1887 and 1894 Robert Stewart was listed with the occupation distiller in the Baltimore city directories. His distillery was located at the southeast corner of Bank and 5th and the office was at 32 S Holliday.

In 1894 his business incorporated under the name “Robert Stewart Distilling Company” The incorporation notice was printed in the January 15, 1894 edition of the Baltimore Sun.

Certificate of the incorporation of the Robert Stewart Distilling Company was put on record in the clerk’s office at Towson. The company is formed to continue the distilling business already established by Robert Stewart at Canton. The capital stock is $125,000, in shares of $100 each, and the directors are Robert Stewart, Benjamin Bell, Isaac W. Mohier, Jr., Diedrich Wischhusen and Thos. W. Donaldson.

During this period, the distillery produced a whiskey called “Robert Stewart Rye.” Their agent, at least in New York, was the well established firm of H.B. Kirk who included their brand in several of their advertisements between 1893 and 1895. This December 6, 1893 advertisement in the New York Times stated that it was “bottled at the distillery,” and referred to it as the “Best Eastern Rye.”

Robert Stewart continued to run the business until December, 1897 when he sold the business and retired. The December 31, 1897 edition of the Baltimore Sun ran a story announcing the sale.

A Highlandtown Distillery Sold

The Robert Stewart Distilling Company have transferred to Daniel H. Carstairs and J. Haseltine Carstairs, of Philadelphia, the plant and equipment of their distilling business and three lots of ground on Bank Street and Eastern Avenue. The price paid is not stated. A mortgage for $40,000 for part of the purchase money has been given.

Another story, this one in the January 14, 1898 edition of the Baltimore Sun provided some additional information:

The distillery has a capacity of 1,200 or 1,500 gallons of whisky daily, which will be increased to about 3,000 gallons daily by an addition to the plant now in course of construction.

The Carstairs Brothers served as proprietors of the distillery between 1898 and 1908 which was still listed at Bank and 5th in the Baltimore directories. Many of their early 1900’s advertisements included an aerial view of the distillery, which I assume by this time included the additions mentioned in the 1898 story above.

At the same time the Carstairs Brothers were managing the distillery they were also managing the firm of Carstairs, McCall & Co., a business that their family had been connected with as far back as the late 1700’s. Headquartered in Philadelphia, the company was heavily involved in the wine and liquor trade as importers, exporters and wholesale dealers.

A story on Carstairs & McCall in the October 6, 1908 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer described the early history of the business.

The present firm style was adopted in 1867, in which year the late James Carstairs and John C. McCall associated themselves as general partners. They were both recognized as imminently enterprising and progressive men of affairs, and under their aggressive management the interests of the house were considerably broadened and extended. The death of Mr. Carstairs, in 1893, was followed by that of Mr. McCall, in 1894, since which time the business has been conducted under the management of Messrs. Daniel H. Carstairs and J. Haseltine Carstairs, sons of the late James Carstairs, who entered the firm in 1885, and representatives of the fourth generation of the Carstairs family in continuous connection with the house.

The Philadelphia headquarters of the firm were located at 222 South Front Street for many years, but were removed in September, 1904, to the commodious and modernly equipped four-story and basement double building now occupied at 254-256 South Third Street. New York offices are maintained in the Park Row Building.

The story went on to say that while the distillery of the firm was located in Highlandtown, the business was done altogether in Philadelphia. This leads me to believe that while they may have been separate business entities, Carstairs Brothers and Carstairs & McCall were in effect operating as one.

During this period they called their whisky “Stewart” Pure Rye Whisky.” A January 12, 1905 item printed in the “Wine & Spirit Bulletin” described it like this:

Carstairs Bros. – A Fine Whisky

The absolutely essential elements for a fine blending whisky are a heavy body and strong character and flavor. The same characteristics are equally attractive, after proper aging, in a fine bar whisky.

Among the best in this line either for blending or bar use or for bottling in bond is the “Stewart” pure rye whisky, made by Carstairs Brothers, of Philadelphia Pa., at their distillery at Highlandtown, a suburb of Baltimore Md.

The Carstairs Brothers are gentlemen of a remarkably high order of intelligence and ability and character. They, as well as their goods, are thoroughly reliable, which fact will be attested by the trade at large wherever they have had dealings and that covers nearly every section of the country where fine rye whiskies predominate.

The 1908 Philadelphia Inquirer story called Stewart Pure Rye Whiskey their oldest and most well known product and demonstrated that it had grown quite a bit since being acquired by Carstairs.

It has a production of over 15,000 barrels per year and is sold all over the United States. A market for it abroad has rapidly increased of late years and many barrels are forwarded to London, Paris and Bremen every year.

Sometime in early 1909 a newly formed company called the Stewart Distilling Company was incorporated in Pennsylvania to consolidate the operation of Carstairs Brothers’ Stewart Distillery and the business of Carstairs, McCall & Co. A story in the April 25, 1909 edition of the Baltimore Sun covered the new corporation’s acquisition of the distillery.

The Stewart Distilling Company, of Pennsylvania, has purchased from Messers. Daniel H. Carstairs and J Haseltine Carstairs, of Philadelphia, trading as Carstairs Brothers, the distillery at Highlandtown, located on Eastern Avenue and Bank Street. The conveyance was recorded yesterday at Towson.

The deed transfers 13 lots, 10 in fee and 3 leasehold: also the entire plant, machinery, tools, etc., office fixtures, furniture, whisky brands and trademarks known as “Stewart” brands, formerly owned by the Robert Stewart Distilling Company.

Four days later the Philadelphia Inquirer covered the acquisition of the facilities owned by Carstairs, McCall & Co.

The two buildings at 254-56 South Third Street have been conveyed by J Haseltine Carstairs to the Stewart Distilling Company for a consideration recited as nominal. On a combined lot 50.10 x 180 feet the buildings are four-story brick structures assessed at $30,000.

The new corporation remained under control of the Carstairs brothers with Daniel serving as president and J. Haseltine serving as vice president and treasurer.

The company remained listed at the former Carstairs, McCall & Co., South Third Street address through 1918, changing their Philadelphia address to 301 Bellevue Court Blvd. in 1919. In New York their address was listed as 21 Park Row in 1909 and 1910 and 2 Rector Street from 1911 to 1919.

The brand I see advertised the most during this period was called “Carstairs Rye.” A series of advertisements printed in several of the NYC newspapers over the course of 1911 mention that its “the oldest American Whiskey,” dating back to 1788, which is certainly a reference to the first generation of Carstairs.

A labeled bottle found on the internet confirms that they continued to produce the Stewart brand as well, now called “Stewart Pure Old Rye”

By 1921 the Stewart Distilling Company was no longer listed in Philadelphia but the distillery in Baltimore survived for several more years.

On April 22, 1919, a “liquidation sale” was held at the distillery to dispose of the entire plant, including real estate and equipment as well as the trade name of “Stewart Pure Rye.” Notices announcing the sale were printed in several April editions of the Baltimore Sun.

The day after the sale a story in the Baltimore Sun announced that J. Haseltine Carstairs had purchased the plant in an effort to protect his own interests.

Philadelphian Buys Plant to Protect Interests

J. H. Carstairs, of Philadelphia, was the purchaser of the plant of the Stewart Distilling Company, Eastern Avenue and Fifth Street, at Highlandtown, at public auction yesterday afternoon for a consideration said to have been $125,000. The property has said to have been acquired by Mr. Carstairs to protect his own interest, the transfer involving no immediate solution to the future of the big plant.

The property includes four blocks of ground, with nine bonded and free warehouses, , besides the equipment, and is said to have been appraised at $1,150,000 before adverse legislation closed its doors.

Edward Brooks, Jr. attorney for the Stewart Company, said yesterday that after July 1, should the Prohibition law go into effect, a portion of the floor space will continue to be devoted to the storage of liquor now on hand. It is possible, he said, that the remaining buildings will be torn down to make room for improvements for some other line of business.

Sometime in 1921 it appears that the business was reorganized and the Carstairs were no longer involved. In 1922, the Stewart Distilling Company was listed in the Baltimore directories with Arthur Benhoff named as president. A year later in 1923, Robert Pennington and Vincent Flacomio were listed as president and secretary-treasurer respectively.

During this time the distillery may have been producing whisky for medicinal purposes but it was certainly storing liquor in their warehouses. This was evidenced by an incident that occurred in February, 1923 that was covered in newspapers across the country. A condensed version of the story was printed in the February 8, 1923 edition of the New York Daily News.

Discovery that bootleggers have got at least 100 barrels of whisky by tunneling from an unoccupied house to the Stewart Distillery was made today when a bootlegger had bared the plot to authorities. The tunnel is 150 feet long and large enough for a man to crawl through. Barrels in the distillery warehouse were tapped and the liquor pumped through a one and a half inch hose to containers in the unoccupied house.

The Baltimore Sun covered the story in much greater detail and actually provided a sketch associated with the theft.

According to a story in the April 18, 1924 edition of the Reading (Pa.) Times this wasn’t the only whisky vanishing from the Baltimore distillery.

Indictments charging two distillery officials with illegal sale of liquor were returned by a special federal grand jury here today.The men indicted were Jacob Katz, vice president and manager of the local warehouse of the Stewart Distillery, Baltimore, and Morris G. Waxler, local manager of the Sherwood Distillery.

The indictment against Katz contains thirteen counts alleging illegal sale of 3,000 cases of whisky and twenty-five barrels in September 1922 and with maintaining a nuisance where the whisky was stored…

Ultimately the end of the distillery came in the mid-1920’s. A story in the August 5, 1925 edition of the Baltimore Sun, stated the distillery property changed hands again.

Title to the old Stewart Distillery property on Bank Street between Fifth and Seventh Streets was conveyed by the Stewart Distilling Company to W. Guy Crowther, Jacob Ott and Herbert A. Megrow, through the Title Guarantee and Trust Company. The consideration was $75,000.

A month later, this advertisement in the September 6, 1925 edition of the Baltimore Sun announced that the distillery was being dismantled and that much of its contents and equipment was for sale.

Finally a June 15, 1927 Baltimore Sun article stated that the distillery property had been sold sold to the Crown Oil and Wax Company.

The former Stewart Distillery property on Bank Street, including eighteen two-story leasehold brick dwellings at 3804 – 3838 Bank Street and machinery, equipment, lumber, etc., was acquired at public auction yesterday by the Crown Oil and Wax Company. The consideration was $25,000 subject to mortgages totaling $54,566.22. Purchase was from Henry Goldstone, trustee, through Sam W. Pattison & Co., auctioneers. No plans for the property have been made by the purchasing Company, it is said.

The last listing I can find for the Stewart Distilling Company was in the 1926 Baltimore City Directory. As far as I can tell, their corporate charter was ultimately forfeited for failure to pay franchise taxes in 1925 and 1926.

Toward the end of Prohibition several different organizations were planning to revive some of the well-known Carstairs trade names. One, actually calling themselves the “Stewart Distilling Company,” was chartered June 14, 1933, and another calling themselves the “American-Stewart Distilling Company,” was a revival of the previously forfeited Stewart corporate charter.

D.H. and J.L. Carstairs brought suit to restrain them and two other companies, the “Carstairs Rye Distilleries, Inc.,” and the “Maryland Stewart Distillery Company” from using the Carstairs trade name.

An article in the March 15, 1934 edition of the (Allentown Pa.) Morning Call announced that the U. S. District Court of Maryland had ruled in favor of Carstairs in the case against Carstairs Rye Distilleries. I have to assume that they ultimately came down with similar rulings against the other companies as well because all three were included on a list of delinquent corporations that had forfeited their charters that was printed in the February 11, 1937 edition of Baltimore Sun.

The Morning Call article summarized the situation like this:

Carstairs rye whiskey, a favorite with drinkers since colonial times, is off the market unless the famous Philadelphia family bearing the name decides to re-enter the liquor business.

Based on this advertisement for Carstairs Rye, “Back In Baltimore Again,” that appeared in the September 6, 1934 edition of the Baltimore Sun  the family did re-enter the liquor business as Carstairs Bros. Distilling Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There’s no mention of Stewart.

The bottle I found is machine made with what looks like a double ring lip. It’s embossed with this rather awkward phrase in small letters  around the shoulder:

“LICENSED ONLY FOR USE ON PATENTED VALVE MECHANISM HERE OF BOTTLES WHEN FILLED BY US. RE-USE PROHIBITED. STEWART DISTILLING CO. ONE FIFTH GAL.”

The bottle is consistent with the non-refillable bottle that the company introduced in 1914 calling it “The Supreme Achievement of Standardized Quality, insuring delivery of contents unchanged to the purchaser.”

    

This most likely dates the bottle no earlier than 1914 and and no later than 1919 and the start of Prohibition.

 

 

 

United Wine & Trading Company – Pearl Wedding Rye

The United Wine and Trading Company was in business from 1899 through the early 1920’s. A news item in the June 30, 1899 edition of the Boston Evening Transcript announced the start of the company and the reasoning behind it.

Several hundred New York liquor dealers formally organized a combine yesterday and pledged themselves to support a movement which practically looks to the elimination of the middleman. Presiding officer Henry von Minden said:

“This movement will spread to other cities and in time it will control the trade permanently and effectively.”

He also announced that the capital stock of the company would be $700,000, of which about $300,000 is already subscribed. The company is to be known as the United Wine and Trading Company, and its purpose is to establish distilleries and manufacture spirits for its stockholders and for the trade. No one except retail liquor dealers are eligible for membership, and the maximum stock which any one person can hold is $2,000, the minimum is $500. The actual business of the company will be directed by a board of twelve, and in addition to dividends, it is expected that subscribers will also receive rebates.

A July 5, 1902 news item in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle stated that by then the company had 305 stockholders.

The business was listed in the New York directories at 424 Greenwich Street from 1900 to 1906 and at 321 West 13th Street from 1908 to 1919.  A complete listing of the directors was included in this 1902 advertisement (I count 13 directors not 12).

Henry von Minden served as president of the company from its onset until his death on December 7, 1918.

On November 28, 1899, several months after their incorporation, the company registered the label for Pearl Wedding Rye Whiskey and one other brand, Old Reliable Rye Whiskey, with the United States Patent Office.

This September 27, 1902 advertisement printed in the “Tamany Times,” a local N.Y. political publication, described Pearl Wedding Rye like this:

Pearl Wedding Rye Whiskey, Extra Special, is guaranteed to be more reliable and uniform in quality than any other whiskey offered to the public; its reputation for purity and excellence will always be sustained. It is made by a process employed only in the distillation of the finest whiskies and is from eight to ten years old, being thoroughly matured before it is bottled and placed on the market.

I can’t find many newspaper advertisements for Pearl Wedding Rye but apparently they used other advertising media such as billboards. This item, which appeared in the October 1902 edition of “The Advisor,” a magazine dedicated to the interests of advertisers, implied that the company advertised quite a bit.

Pearl Wedding Rye Goes

Before Pearl Wedding Rye was advertised its sales were 200 cases a month. Now more than 2000 cases are sold each month. Advertising did it.

One advertising poster, depicted likenesses of ex-Senator and ex-Governor of New York, David B. Hill; Admiral Winfield Scott Schley, the current Senator from New York, Chauncy Depew, New York City Mayor Seth Low and New York County District Attorney, William Travers Jerome, all supposedly at a banquet and drinking a toast with Pearl Wedding Rye.

The ladies of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.) filed a protest against the advertisement and all the participants denied that they had endorsed the brand but the entire saga had made the newspapers and attracted lots of attention. To capitalize on all the publicity, the company republished the poster in newspaper advertisements under the headline “W.C.T.U. Conflicts with U.W.T.C.” and included the following announcement:

The ladies of the W.C.T.U. have filed their protest against the use of the above poster by the United Wine and Trading Company, proprietors of Pearl Wedding Rye Whiskey.

They have decided that the poster pictures are remarkably lifelike portrayals of five prominent Americans and that the pleased, satisfied expression which illumines their faces is particularly to be condemned.

One young woman proposed that the W.C.T.U. draft resolutions requesting its members to boycott Pearl Wedding Rye, but after a portentous silence the motion was hurriedly withdrawn.

Much more was said, which serves to provoke the query, Why do many of our greatest statesman, judges and army and naval officers drink Pearl Wedding Rye?

The answer is simple.

A “man who knows” knows best a good whiskey.

Pearl Wedding Rye is a most perfect whiskey and a healthful stimulant, free from fusel oil, delicately flavored, rich and mellow with age.

It is worthy of statesmen, worthy of the army and navy, worthy of the judiciary.

It bears the endorsement of some of our most famous physicians because of its medicinal qualities. It is an almost infallible cure for gout and rheumatism, and used as a preventative will invariably ward off attacks of colds and la grippe.

A bottle of Pearl Wedding Rye kept in the house and judiciously used will save many a doctor’s bill.

Those are some of the why’s.

The company was still listed in the directories during the first few years of Prohibition; in 1922 at 276 West 11th Street (with Hyman Reber named as president) and 1925 at 348 West 14th Street. After that I can’t find a listing for them.

According to streeteasy.com the building at 321 West 13th Street was built in 1907. That makes the United Wine & Trading Company an original occupant.

Zillow.com states that the current building at 424 Greenwich Street was built in 1915 so it doesn’t date back to the business.

The bottle I found is a half-pint mouth blown flask with screw threads and a ground finish. Remarkably, the cap was still attached and in relatively good condition.

Pearl Wedding Rye was sold in three sizes: Quart (or Fifth), pint and half-pint. The shape and cap design of the half-pint bottle I found matches the smallest of the three labeled bottles in this advertisement from several 1903 editions of “The Wine & Spirit Bulletin.”

     

Booth’s Distillery, London England, High & Dry Gin

 

According to “Difford’s Guide,” the relationship between the Booth family and gin can be traced back to the establishment of their London distillery in 1740.

The Booth family, who moved to London from north-east England, were established wine merchants as early as 1569. By 1740 they had added distilling to their already established brewing and wine interests and built a distillery at 55 Cowcross Street, Clerkenwell, London…

During the 19th century Sir Felix Booth set up another distillery at Brentford and grew the business into the largest distilling company in England…

After the death of the last male Booth family member in 1826, the firm became an independent limited company. In 1937, Booth’s joined the Distiller’s Company Ltd, the interests of which would evolve into part of the conglomerate we know today as Diageo.

Booth’s gin is not currently listed as a brand on Diageo’s web site, apparently having gone out of production just recently.

It’s not clear when Booth’s gin first began appearing in the United States. The earliest U. S. newspaper reference for Booth’s gin that I could find is in a December 4, 1871 story in the Buffalo Daily Courier highlighting a local business called P.J. Hanour’s. It mentioned that “Holland” gin and Booth’s “Old Tom” gin were both available by the case at Hanour’s. Based on this story, its safe to say that Booth’s “Old Tom” gin was certainly available in the U.S. by the early 1870’s.

The December, 1887 edition of Bonfort’s Wine and Spirit Circular listed the firm of Purdy & Nicholas as the U.S. agent for Booth & Co.’s “Old Tom” gin.

An import company, the business was a partnership of John F. Purdy and George Stevenson Nicholas. According to Purdy’s obituary the company was established in 1857, so while it’s not clear when their relationship with Booth’s began, it’s possible that Booth’s U. S. presence dates back that far.

Always located at 42 Beaver Street in lower Manhattan, Purdy & Nicholas was listed in the New York City directories from 1862 up until 1888. According to an item in the September 12, 1894 issue of the New York Times, the partnership was dissolved on September 1, 1888. Subsequently, Nicholas continued to run the business, first as a sole proprietor, then, sometime around 1908, as G. S. Nicholas & Co. and finally in 1919 as G.S. Nicholas & Son. Throughout this time the business remained listed at the Beaver Street address.

By the early 1900’s, in addition to “Old Tom” their Booth & Co. imports also included Booth’s “Dry” gin. A 1902 advertisement in Life Magazine named G. S. Nicholas as the sole agent for Booth’s Dry Gin.

And the brand was included in the company listing under gin, printed in the January 1, 1903 edition of the Wine & Spirit Bulletin.

By 1908 the brand name “High and Dry” gin began to appear in the U. S. as a Booth & Co. product. That year, the June 17 edition of “Printers Ink” announced that the firm of H.B. Humphrey  had been hired to place advertisements for the brand.

A year later G. S. Nicholas & Co. included the Booth’s “High and Dry” brand along with Booth’s “Old Tom”in an advertisement published in the June 22, 1909 edition of the New York Times.

In 1919, the NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory named G. S. Nicholas & Son as the agent for Booth Distillery, Ltd., confirming that their relationship remained intact right up to the start of National Prohibition.

Booth’s High & Dry gin continued to be available in the U. S. during Prohibition albeit illegally. One story in the (Wilmington Delaware) Evening Journal described a shipment that originated in Canada.

Eighteen days ago a fourteen ton, two-masted schooner cleared from the little port of St Pierre Miquelon, a French possession near Newfoundland, with a crew of seven and assorted choice liquors valued at upwards of $200,000 aboard.

Search of the schooner was made during the night. Bottles, cases and kegs of liquor were found in two hatches covered with bags of coal.

The small schooner is (now) berthed at a Delaware River pier in Philadelphia, heavily guarded. The cargo of liquor lies in concrete vaults of the U. S. Customs Department.

A list of the illegal cargo was provided in the story and it included “28 gallons of Booth’s High and Dry gin” and “62 cases of Booth’s High and Dry gin.”

Apparently Booth’s “High & Dry,” in addition to being smuggled in, was also being counterfeited in this country. A story in the April 7, 1928 edition of the Decatur (Illinois) Herald referred to one illegal operation as the “Decatur Branch” of the Booth Distillery, complete with a still, bottles and labels.

Police Friday raided the “local branch” of a London, England, distillery: makers of Booth’s “High and Dry” Gin, and other fine imported liquors. A new 50-gallon still was confiscated.

Swooping down on the cottage in 2129 North Church Street, they found John Alexander and his wife Sadie, in charge of the premises with 80 gallons of raw alcohol ready to be converted into choice imported liquors.

Bottles, labels, corks and seals were ready. Recipes for mixing a widely assorted list of liquors were found.

Booth’s London distillery, as described by the labels for use on the “imported” dry gin, made in Decatur, was established in 1740. The British lion appears on the label as a trade mark. The label is a work of art, printed in four colors.

Another label found is intended to give the information that the liquor manufactured in Decatur’s branch of Booth’s English distillery is imported by the “Henry Hollander Co., Inc.” under a special permit. Caution is given that it has been permitted in this country for medicinal purposes only and that “sale for use for other purposes will cause heavy penalties to be inflicted.”

The still was in the basement. It gave appearance of being recently installed. Under order of Chief Ed Wills, it was wrecked.

After Prohibition ended, Booth’s “High & Dry” gin began to be produced in the U.S. by Park & Tillford Distiller’s of New York City. The “High & Dry” label from the 1930’s included the following:

product of U.S.A. distilled and bottled by Park & Tillford Distillers, Inc. at New York, N.Y., under the supervision of Booth Distillers, Ld, London.

Other 1930’s advertisements explained that reducing the price by eliminating the import tax was the reasoning behind the change.

This is the same gin when imported retails $3.50 to $4.00 per fifth bottle. But it is now being distilled by the Park and Tillford distillers in New York City by the Booth’s distillers of London, England, same formula, same gin, but eliminating import tax, thereby bringing the price down compared to ordinary gin.

This advertisement from 1935 bore this out, listing the price of a fifth at $1.45.

By the mid-1950’s, Booth’s “High & Dry” gin was being produced in Linden New Jersey by the Distillers Co., Ltd.; W. A. Taylor & Co., was named as their sole distributor in the U.S and the bottle design had completely changed but this 1959 advertisement showed that their marketing strategy had remained pretty consistent.

They still stressed their English heritage.

It is good to know that when you buy Booth’s “High & Dry” Gin in the United States you are getting gin made according to the same formula as the Booth’s “High & Dry” purveyed in Britain. It is the only gin distilled in U.S.A. under the supervision of famous Booth Distilleries, Ltd., in London, England. Give Booth’s a try.

And price was still a major factor.

I’ve found a total of three bottles from the Booth’s Distillery, all machine made.  Two are square shaped “High and Dry Gin” bottles. One includes  “High & Dry Gin,” the British lion trademark, “Booth’s Distillery London England” all embossed on one face. The other is simply embossed “Booth’s High and Dry Gin”

They don’t include the typical post-prohibition embossed phrase (federal law forbids the sale or reuse of this bottle). As a result these bottles were most likely manufactured after 1908 when the brand “High & Dry” began to appear in the U.S and before the end of National Prohibition.

This is further supported by the embossing: “B & CO.LD.,” found on the base of each bottle.

Originally I thought that this stood for Booth & Co., however, I now think it’s the makers mark for “Bagley & Co., Ltd.,” an English glass house, that was in business from 1898 to 1962. The company manufactured bottles from 1898 to the late 1920’s or early 1930’s after which they ceased bottle production and focused on tableware. According to the U.S. Society of Historical Architecture they were one of the first users of automated bottle machinery in England and probably had the capability of making machine-made narrow-mouthed bottles as early as 1907.

This puts the range of production between 1908 and the early 1930’s and means that the bottles could have been legally imported by G.S. Nicholas or they could have entered the country illegally during Prohibition.

The third bottle has a hexagonal cross section and is embossed “Booths Distillery Ltd. London” The embossing does not include a brand name and there’s no makers mark on the base. It likely dates from the same time period as the others and may have contained the other brand Booth’s was advertising in the United States in the decade prior to Prohibition, “Old Tom Gin.”

Peter Dawson Ltd., Distillers

Peter Dawson was third generation of a family of Scottish distillers that began with his grandfather sometime in the first decade of the 1800’s. According to Whisky.Com, he established Peter Dawson Ltd., in Glasgow in 1892. A distilling and blending company, between 1893 and 1924 they were associated at various times with a number of Scottish distilleries including Convolmore, Towiemore and Balmenach.

According to the 1920 edition of “Harper’s Manual – The Standard Work of Reference for the Wine & Spirit Trade,” the business incorporated in 1911 with Peter Dawson and W. Campbell named as Managing Director and Secretary respectively. The Harper’s listing also mentioned three brands: “Dawson’s Extra Special,” “Dawson’s Old Curio,” and “Dawson’s Special.”

By 1925 they had been purchased and were operating as a subsidiary to the “Distillers Company, Ltd.” Guinness acquired the Distillers Co. in 1986, and they merged with Grand Metropolitan in 1997 to form Diageo. Today, Diageo’s web site does not list Peter Dawson as one of their scotch brands.

It appears that the Peter Dawson brands began appearing in the United States sometime in the early 1900’s. On June 16, 1903 they registered their label with the United States Patent Office (10,105) and their newspaper advertisements began appearing in 1909. The first one I could find was in the January 14, 1909 edition of the Chicago Tribune.

The Dawson taste for old scotch whisky is the cultivated taste. Peter Dawson Scotch Whisky is bottled in Scotland and has a flavor that will be a revelation to you. Kindly but firmly refuse substitutes at bars, hotels, cafes and on trains.

Like most European based whiskies, the Peter Dawson brands continued to make their way into the United States after the start of National Prohibition. An article printed in the March 10, 1925 edition of the Casper (Wyoming) Star Tribune described a confiscated shipment of Peter Dawson Scotch.

Ten quarts of Peter Dawson Scotch liquor, shipped out of New York City to F.J. Alder of Casper Wyoming, was yesterday seized by federal prohibition officers. No such man at the address has been found.

The liquor, shipped by express, was packed in a wooden shoe box which had been filled with sawdust and tin packing strips had been nailed around the box to reinforce it.

C.F. Peterson and Otto Plaga, federal agents, confiscated the shipment and sent it to headquarters of the department at Cheyenne.

Following the end of Prohibition, Julius Wile Sons & Co. was appointed as Dawson’s United States distributor. The following advertisement appeared in the December 11, 1933 edition of several U.S. newspapers.

Wile was still listed as their agent and/or distributor on advertisements as late as 1971.

Julius Wile Sons & Co. was a wine and spirits importing company that dated back to 1877, so it’s possible that they also served as Peter Dawson’s distributor prior to National Prohibition but I haven’t been able to verify (or refute) this.

The Peter Dawson Scotch bottle was a unique design that included “brambles” and  “dimples” on the shoulder and near the base but leaving a smooth area in between for the label. An April 10, 1924 advertisement in the The (London England) Guardian focused on their unique bottle design.

The Whisky bottle that gives you inside information.

Old masters, bank-notes, and the labels on valuable commercial commodities are so easily imitated nowadays that extra precautions are often necessary.

In the case of Peter Dawson, it has been found imperative to adopt, in addition to the label on the bottle, a distinguishing mark which will at once defy imitation and protect both the public and the blender.

That is the reason why “brambles” and “dimples” have been grown upon the “P.D.” bottles. It is strange but true that these “brambles” and “dimples” will only grow upon bottles containing whisky that’s genuinely old and mellowed in wood.

Seek out the “P.D.” bottle that “brambles” with pride and “dimples” with pleasure. It will give you reliable inside information of a “special” nature.

As far as I can tell, the “brambled” and “dimpled” bottle design began appearing in newspaper advertisements in the early 1920’s and the design remained relatively unchanged (other than the finish) well into the 1980’s and possibly longer.

The bottle I found is a machine made quart that exhibits the Peter Dawson “brambles” and “dimples” and matches the bottle in the 1924 advertisement, including the finish.  The base is embossed “Peter Dawson Ltd., Distillers.”  It doesn’t include the typical post-prohibition embossed phrase: “federal law forbids sale or reuse of this bottle.” As a result, the bottle was most likely manufactured overseas in the 1920’s and smuggled into the United States during Prohibition.

Steinhardt Brothers & Co., The Kintore

 

Steinhart Brothers & Co. were importers and wholesale liquor dealers based in New York City from the mid-1870’s up to the start of National Prohibition. Four Steinhart brothers: David, Henry, Lewis and Morris were the proprietors of the business and later members of the Strasser family also got involved. The early years of the business were profiled in a booklet entitled “A Souvenir of N.Y.’s Liquor Interests” published in 1893.

Steinhart Brothers & Co., Importers and Wholesale Liquor Dealers, Nos. 299 and 301 Patchen Avenue, Corner Chauncey Street, Brooklyn, N.Y.; 121 and 123 Hudson Street, Corner North Moore. – This representative establishment, one of the most progressive, popular and reliable concerns engaged in the great wholesale liquor trade of New York, was founded in 1872, by Lewis Steinhart, the firm becoming Steinhart Brothers in 1878 and in 1887 the present firm was organized, the individual members being Lewis Steinhart, M. Steinhart, H. Steinhart, D.G. Steinhart and A. Strasser. The copartners are all natives of New York, members of the Wholesale Liquor Dealers Association and are energetic, enterprising business men, favorably known in trade circles. The firm opened an uptown branch at Nos. 207 and 209 East 120th Street in Harlem, in 1891, buying out the house of Carson & Carroll. The Brooklyn branch was secured in 1888, the firm succeeding Aug. Immig, who had been established twenty-one years. A bottle and small package business is done at the branches; at the main store the trade is exclusively wholesale. The latter premises comprise a store and basement fully equipped with every facility for the storage of heavy stock carried, the handling and bottling of goods, the firm making a specialty of wines and liquors of their own bottling. A staff of 100 hands in all is employed in the various departments. Steinhart Brothers & Co. are general dealers in all the leading brands of wines, liqueurs, cordials, bitters, gins, brandies, champagnes, rums, Irish and Scotch, rye and bourbon whiskies, both of foreign and domestic manufacture, selling the same in bond and tax paid. They are sole agents in the United States and Canada for the original and only genuine A.E. Boonekamp Maag Bitters, established and invented at Antwerp Belgium in 1815. They are also agents for the Dr. Harter Medicine Company, of St. Louis Mo., manufacturers of Dr. Harter’s Wild Cherry Bitters, for medicinal use. Both of these bitters are popularly known and need no praise, their excellence having been fully demonstrated. Those ordering goods from this house will receive honorable and liberal treatment.

The NYC directories of that era confirm, clarify and add to the early history. Lewis (sometimes named Louis) is the first Steinhart brother that I can find with the occupation “liquors,” supporting the fact that he was the founder of the company. He’s was listed in the 1875 directory with two locations, 143 Broome and 107 Columbia. Morris and Henry follow Lewis at 143 Broome in the 1877 and 1878 listings respectively. Around this time the brothers apparently had a short term business relationship with Bernard Hartman that is not mentioned in the profile. In 1879 and only that year, both Hartman and the firm of Steinhardt & Hartman are also listed at the 143 Broome address with the occupation liquors. David Steinhardt is first listed in the 1884 directory.

The first company listing I can find for Steinhardt Brothers is in the 1882 directory. In 1889, the company name changes to Steinhardt Brothers & Co., confirming the reorganization mentioned in the profile.

Between 1875 and the early 1890’s the company maintained many different addresses within Manhattan. The primary ones included:

  • 143 Broome Street: 1875 – 1883
  • 458 Greenwich Street: 1879 – 1890
  • 87 – 93 Hudson Street: 1879 – 1888
  • 121 Hudson Street: 1893 – 1896
  • 315 Bowery: first listed in 1886 – 1898
  • 134 Mott Street: 1898 – 1902
  • 209 East 120th Street: 1892 – 1900

The profile mentioned branch locations that did a retail package business and a main wholesale location. Of the above locations, it’s not clear to me which was which.

The profile also mentioned the opening of a Brooklyn location in 1888. A copartnership notice regarding the Brooklyn operation dated February 1, 1889 was included in the August 6, 1889 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

To Whom It May Concern – Steinhart Bros. & Co., of New York and Edward Strasser of Brooklyn, have formed a copartnership to carry on a liquor business corner Patchen Ave. and Chauncey St. under the firm name of Steinhart Bros. & Co.

This appears to be the time that the Strassers got involved with the business.  At the same time that Edward joined them in Brooklyn,  Adolph Strasser was listed for the first time at each of the Steinhardt Bros. Manhattan addresses. The NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directories in the early 1900’s list nine principals: Lewis, Morris, Henry and David J. Steinhart; Edward, William W. Joseph A. and William Strasser and Louis Fletcher. By 1908, the business was listed as a New York Corporation with Lewis Steinhardt – president, William Strasser – treasurer and Joseph Strasser – secretary.

In 1900, Joseph Strasser was the firm’s advertising manager. In an interview published in the January 24, 1900 issue of the “Printers Ink” he talked about the firm’s approach to advertising. The interview focused on another of the firm’s brands, “Roxbury Rye” but still gives a good idea of their general thinking. Portions of the interview follow:

“What was your initial advertising step?” was the next question.

“About the very first was the adoption of street cars and the elevated roads. We have been liberal and rather constant patrons of these ever since starting, using both single and double cards, as well as station display, and we have also used theatrical programs extensively from the first.”

“Did you not go into the newspapers?”

“Only very limitedly. I consider dailies the mediums for telling the public more about the special merits of an article. For this purpose we employed what we consider even a better way, since it is more personal, more direct and allows us to say more than we could say in limited space. We circularized – sending out in addition to the educational matter, fine lithographed cards and elegant glass signs. These were, of course, directed to dealers entirely.”

Beginning in the early 1900’s the business had two primary locations, 29 – 31 Ninth Avenue and 2207 Third Avenue and by 1915 they were down to just the Ninth Avenue address. Around this time, Joseph Strasser replaced Lewis Steinhardt as president. Henry Steinhart was vice president but the other Steinhart brothers were no longer listed.

The 1919 Copartnership and Corporation Directory still listed them at the Ninth Avenue address but in the 1922 Directory it was stated that they were “in liquidation.”

After National Prohibition, it appears that the Steinhart name resurfaced in a company called Steinhadt Company, Inc., located at 644 Greenwich Street. The president was listed as Fred Steinhardt who had previously served as the Secretary of Steinhart Brothers & Co., in the mid to late 1910’s. The business applied for several liquor brand trade marks in 1934 including Golden Elk, DuBarry and Littlemore, but I can’t find any information on this company after the mid-1930’s.

According to the Tamany Times “The Kintore” brand was introduced into the United States market in 1897.

The Kintore brand of Scotch whiskey was introduced into the market at the beginning of the year by Messrs. A. Halliday & Co., No. 17 Harrison Street, this city.

It is a very high class Glinlivet production, distilled near the town of Kintyre, warranted ten years old, and a pure distillery whiskey. It has been tested by the best connoisseurs, and the unanimous verdict was, that it is the best in its line.

It is finding it’s way rapidly into the hands of the leading clubs, hotels and dealers throughout the large cities, and a great future is predicted for it. Messrs. Acker, Merrill & Condit, Park & Tilford, and the leading grocers, gave it a place at once, and are selling it freely upon it’s merits.

Thirteen years later, in 1910, the NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory stated that “The Kintore’s wholesale dealer, A. Halliday & Co., was “in liquidation, so it’s very possible that Steinhart Bros. picked up the Kintore brand right around this time.

After Prohibition, the Schenley Import Corp., New York appears to have taken over as the product’s importer.

The bottle I found is actually a one quart ceramic jug that includes Steinhardt Brothers & Co. written in script. This puts the jug’s manufacture sometime between 1910 and 1919 if I’m right about Steinhart picking up the brand after A. Halliday’s liquidation in 1910.

I also found a machine made flask (7 oz) for another Steinhart brand, Littlemore Special Blend. The 1934 trademark application for Littlemore states that the name was in use dating back to 1907 so it also fits the pre-prohibition time frame.

 

Old Parr

old-parr  old-parr1

“Old Parr” Scotch Whiskey was introduced in 1909 by the Greenlees Brothers of London. The design registration no. 547348 embossed on the base of the bottle dates to between August 10 and August 17, 1909.

Geenlees Brothers, was included on a list of distillers in an 1874 publication called “London and Suburban Licensed Victuallers Hotel and Tavern Keepers” so the business dates back to at least that far. In 1919 they merged with William Williams & Sons Ltd, builders and owners of the Glendullan Distillery, to form MacDonald, Greenlees & Williams (Greenlees belonged to Alexander & MacDonald at that time). This company listed three brands in a 1924 overseas advertisement: Claymore, Old Parr and Sandy MacDonald (Sandy Mac).

old-parr-ad

MacDonald Greenlees & Williams joined Distillers Company Ltd in 1925, shortening their name to Macdonald Greenlees in the process. Ultimately they ended up with Diageo.

The Old Parr brand took its name from old Tom Parr, reputedly the oldest man in Britain. Supposedly he lived for 152 years and at the age of 122 married for the second time. Charles I arranged for him to be buried in Westminster Abbey in 1635. Some say his records were confused with his grandfathers but I like the original story so I’m choosing to ignore this!

It’s not clear to me who distributed Old Parr in the United States from 1909 to the start of Natinal Prohibition in 1919. In 1894 Thomas N Dwyer & Co, located at 40 Barclay Street, was listed as the sole agent for Greenlee Brothers but by the early 1900’s they were not listed in the NYC Directories.

During Prohibition it appears that Old Parr illegally entered the United States via Canada in significant numbers. This 1925 news item in the Bridgeport (Conn.) Telegram describes a confiscated shipment of Old Parr that arrived from Halifax. Dated June 11, New Haven Conn., the story reads:

The Baltimore First, hailing from Halifax and captured off New London June 2, was brought into the city dock here today with her own cargo, 1500 cases of Old Parr Scotch and rye whiskey because of the shortage of space in the New London storehouse.

At the end of Prohibition Old Parr was rapidly available again legally. In fact, this December 11, 1933 newspaper advertisement that appeared in several large city newspapers including Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Baltimore, made it pretty clear that they were accepting orders prior to Prohibition’s official end.

Orders will be accepted from the trade for shipment of the above brands to States where and when the sale of liquor is legal, subject to import quotas.

According to scotchwhisky.com, Old Parr is still sold today in Japan, Mexico, the U.S. and parts of Latin America, especially Columbia.

The bottle I found is a classic Old Parr bottle; square with rounded edges and distinctive dimpled sides. It’s design hasn’t changed much since it’s inception in 1909 and over the years actually played a role in their advertising. This 1941 advertisement had the heading “An Old-Fashioned Bottle and An Old-Fashioned Reason”

In this streamlined age, there is sound thought behind the determination of Macdonald Greenlees of Leith, Scotland, to continue to ship Grand Old Parr Whisky to all countries of the world in the old-fashioned untippable bottle.

In far-off lands where house servants do not always read english labels, the squat brown flagon serves to identify at a glance this famous product from Scotland. The bottle is the guarantee of the genuine imported Grand Old Parr Scotch Whisky.

The bottle I found is mouth blown, making me think that it arrived here legally between 1909 and 1919 or illegally during prohibition. It does not have post-prohibition markings (federal law forbids…). One bottle chat-room connects it with the 1919 to 1925 MacDonald, Greenlee & Williams era but I cannot confirm this.

Bernard Kommel, 143 & 145 Park Row, N. W. Cor 27th St. & 10th Ave., S. E. Cor 65th St. & Amsterdam Avenue

kommel

Bernard Kommel was first listed in the 1892 NYC Directory with the occupation of liquors located at 24 Allen Street and by 1894 he moved to Park Row. He added the Amsterdam Avenue location around 1897 and the 10th Avenue location a year later. The New York State Department of Excise listed Kommel as a certificate holder at these three locations in 1898. By 1900 the Amsterdam Avenue location was no longer listed, so 1898 and possibly 1899 are the only two years he operated at the three locations embossed on the bottle.

The Park Row establishment was called the Billy Goat Saloon of which Kommel was the proprietor. According to a July 27, 1896 story in the New York World the place was not always on the same page with the law.

Policemen Armstrong and Hahn arrested Bernard Kommel, proprietor of  the “Billy Goat” saloon at No. 143 Park Row, yesterday for violating the excise law. Two hours later the policemen found 50 men in the place. Then they arrested Kommel’s wife.

By 1905, the business had grown and he listed six locations in the directory: three on 10th Avenue, two on 11th Avenue and one on W 39th Street. The Park Row business was no longer listed.

Kommel passed away sometime before 1909. The 1909 Directory listed his wife Bertha as a widow and there was no mention of any business locations.

Kommel must have been some character. According to various newspaper accounts, he actually kept pet goats at the tavern and more than once they managed to make the newspapers. A December 11, 1895 story that was picked up by more than one newspaper, including the St.Paul Globe and the Quad City Times talked of one goat’s escape from the bar.

NEW YORK, Dec. 11 – A goat was arrested for disturbing the peace in Broadway near Fulton Street by Policeman Franklin and locked up in the Church Street Station. The owner visited the station later and secured the release of the animal. Barney Kommel, the goat’s owner, keeps what is called the “Billy Goat” saloon at No. 141 Park Row. He told the police sergeant that the animal yesterday afternoon got drunk on hot Scotch whiskies to which he was treated by a man from Philadelphia who had been “doing” the Bowery.

A day later a story on the front page of the Allentown Leader clarified the story.

From the New York Evening World. The owner of the Nanny goat which was arrested for disturbing the peace in Broadway near Fulton Street, by Policeman Franklin yesterday afternoon and locked up in the Church Street station house this morning secured the release of the animal. Sergt. Saul said that he believed that he had full power to discharge the goat without sending it to a police court.

Barney Kommel, the goats owner, keeps what is called the “Billy Goat” saloon on Park Row. He told the police sergeant that he had two goats. Yesterday afternoon “Nanny” got drunk on hot Scotch whiskey, to which she was treated by a man from Philadelphia who had been “doing” the Bowery.

“Billy drinks nothing but mixed ale.” said Mr. Kommel. “and Nannie generally fills up on stale beer. If they mix their drinks they are sure to get a jag. Billy knows this and has not been drunk since last New Years Day, but Nanny has been on a spree now for a week, and yesterday she had a touch of the D. T.’s”

Mrs. Murphy, a friend and neighbor of the saloonkeeper was in front of the saloon when Nanny was brought home from the station-house.

“Sure and why should the darlin’ be ashamed? Isn’t it a good woman’s failing’ just as well as a man’s to take a drop too much now and then?” said Mrs. Murphy.

No one contradicted the lady, and she gave the bartender a nickel to straighten out Nanny’s nerves.

Another story, from the same time period and also involving a loose goat, tells of the bar getting a new goat.

Kommel’s New Goat

Butts Two Chinamen and is a Worthy Successor of “Irish Dan”

When “Irish Dan” Barney Kommel’s pet billygoat, and the pride of the Park Row panhandlers, passed away happily, owing to his inordinate fondness for beer in his master’s saloon in Park Row last October, the whole neighborhood went into mourning. Dan was as fine a gentlemen goat as ever butted a hobo or sunk his nose into a foaming schooner.

Without a goat the barroom seemed bare so Kommel imported a kid of tender years from the Brownsville district of Brooklyn to become Dan’s successor. The free lunch and the Park Row wassail was too much for the kid so it too left this vale of tears carrying along all the beer there was left. Then Kommel started out to hustle for a new goat.

The new goat arrived yesterday and all day the arrival duly was celebrated at Kommel’s bar. The new goat was said to have been imported from Ireland, but there are vague rumors that it was captured in the Long Island woods. The billy was hitched to the bock beer sign in front of the place and announcement was made over the bar that he would be christened in the evening and that the festivities would begin at 8 o’clock.

The new goat shied at a Third Avenue trolley car in the morning, broke his hitching and ran all the way to Chatam Square, but was captured and brought back after he had established a record by butting two Chinamen and devouring a pair of pants on a dummy in front of “The Only Original Cohen’s”

Billy was christened in proper style last night. Decorated with two funeral wreaths, a bunch of immortellies brought from a Bowery undertaking shop and a daisy chain he occupied the center of the barroom floor, shaking his head and bleating at all who came to pay him homage. All the thisty rounders in Park Row and the Bowery were at the celebration and once more there is joy and happiness in Kommel’s barroom.

The Park Row addresses no longer exist. They were located on the grounds of what is now a large apartment complex.

The bottle is a mouth blown strap sided flask. Embossed with the three specific addresses, it dates to 1888 or 1889.

H. B. Kirk & Co., New York

kirk   kirk-1

The H stands for Harford B Kirk. The company was a well-known and respected bottler of wines and liquors that was in business for just about 70 years. An early company advertisement in 1860 mentioned Osborn’s Port, Chillingworth’s Port, Brandies, Sherries and Madeiras, Champagne, Rums, Gins, Scotch and Irish Whiskeys as well as ales and porters.

The following article in the January 1, 1886 issue of the New York Times provides some basic information on the company.

H B Kirk & Co

Pure Wines and Liquors

Among the old established firms in New York distinguished for handling reliable goods of the very highest standard is the firm of H B Kirk & Co., whose establishments at No. 69 Fulton Street, the corner of Broadway and Twenty-seventh Street and No. 9 Warren Street are well known and largely patronized. The firm’s specialties consist of the well known Kentucky sour mash whiskies such as “Hermitage,” (both rye and bourbon) “Oscar Pepper,” “Old Crow” rye, of the latter of which H B Kirk & Co have taken the entire production for the last 14 years. They are also the sole agents for the productions of the Pleasant Valley Wine Company, which are known in all the markets of the world as strictly pure and reliable. The business was established in 1852.

The NYC Directories back up and ultimately finish much of the story. Harford Kirk, wines, was first listed individually around 1855 / 1856 and HB Kirk and Co was first listed around 1864 /1865. The business remained listed into the mid- 1920’s. After the start of National Prohibition the business was listed as liquors for non-beverage purposes (whatever that means?). I don’t see any advertisements for them during this period so I doubt they were very active if at all.

The company was primarily located on Fulton Street, first at 58 Fulton Street and later at 69 Fulton Street up until 1902 when they moved to 156 Franklin Street. After the start of Prohibition they moved to 1475 Broadway. Over the years they also had additional branch locations as well, including the Broadway and Warren Street locations mentioned in the story.

As the above story points out, H.B, Kirk was the exclusive bottler of Old Crow Rye. The two firms partnered from the early 1870’s up until the start of National Prohibition in 1919 and Old Crow Rye was considered Kirk’s signature product. The relationship between the two firms is described in the December 17,1905 edition of the New York Times.

Pretty much every New Yorker who uses whiskey at all has sampled “Old Crow Rye” either at its home, H.B.Kirk & Co.’s famous old place on Broadway and Twenty-seventh Street, or at the homes of his friends. But of this number probably very few know the history of this sterling and time-tried brand, which for many years has stood at the top of all Rye whiskeys.

The origin of “Old Crow” dates back to the early thirties of the last century, when James Crow, a noted chemist of that period, settled in Kentucky and applied his knowledge to the distilling of Whiskey. His success was so pronounced that the product of his still became known not only in this country, but abroad, as the best. At the death of James Crow in 1856, W.A. Gaines & Co. secured from his heirs the secret of his great success as a distiller, and have continued the distilling of “Old Crow” in the same manner that was laid down by James Crow, not attempting to improve on his methods, as the results were perfection in whiskey.

In 1872, 19 years after his business was established, Mr. H.B. Kirk placed a sample order of 200 barrels with W.A. Gaines & Co. When it came to maturity, Mr. Kirk was delighted with its quality, and placed a large order, entering into a formal contract to take the entire output of the Old Crow Rye distillery. From that day on, the output of the distillery has been increased from year to year, going , as agreed under the contract, exclusively to H.B. Kirk & Co., who are the sole bottlers and distributor of same. In addition to their free bottling at No. 156 Franklin St., New York, they are bottling in bond under the Government supervision at the bonded warehouses in Kentucky. The steady and ever increasing demand for “Old Crow Rye” is a source of great satisfaction to H.B. Kirk & Co., proving that the method adopted at the origin of the company in 1852, and strictly adhered to, of giving the very best that could be produced meets with the public’s approval and secures their patronage.

“Old Crow Rye” is sold in bottles only. If offered over any other name than that of H.B. Kirk & Co., it is a fraud.

The advertisements for Old Crow Rye were at times quite humorous. One, in 1897, called it “the Washington of Whiskies.”

Like the father of our country our Old Crow Rye is honest truthful and always reliable.

kirk-ad

Another observed:

We see by the papers that a Mr. Lynch has just died in Muncie Ind., at the early age of 120 years, and who for many years took in heavy jags of Old Crow Rye. He was in hard luck. We hope his premature demise will not deter others from using it.

On a final note, in 1918 as the government was getting ready to enact National Prohibition and basically shut them down, H.B. Kirk still contributed advertising space to support the war effort.

I found two identical bottles embossed “Bottle Remains the Property of H B Kirk & Co NY”. On the opposite side there’s an embossed insignia consisting of what looks like three faces. Most likely, they contained “Old Crow” Rye.

Gordon’s Dry Gin, London, England, Reg’d 610617

gordons   gordons-1

The initial Gordon’s Distillery dates back to 1769 in London and they began making a form of dry gin sometime after the advent of continuous distillation in the 1830’s.

Gordon & Company merged with Tanqueray  in 1898 and it was around this time  that listings for Gordon Dry Gin began to appear in U.S. newspaper advertisements. The first mention that I could find in a New York City newspaper were several advertisements for Macy’s, who listed Gordons Gin under the heading “Fine Wines for Medicinal Use.” According to this advertisement, printed in the February 19, 1903 issue of The Sun, you could find Gordon’s Gin on the fifth floor.

Gordon’s advertisements in several 1915 issues of Life Magazine advertised drinks that were made with Gordon’s Gin. These included mint juleps, orange blossoms, gin daiseys and south sides.

gordons-ad

Around this time, Gordons was apparently having problems with supply, price and authenticity in this country. Statements made to the American public contained in Life Magazine bear this out. The content of two statements is shown below.

February 18, 1915

gordons-letter-1

April 27, 1916

gordons-letter-2

This last advertisement mentioned the establishment of a modern bottling operation in New York City which they apparently accomplished in 1916. It was listed in the various NYC Directories between 1916 and 1922 as Gordon’s Dry Gin Co., Ltd, a New York Corporation located at 101 Park Avenue. Not surprisingly, by 1925 they were no longer listed.

In 1934, shortly after Prohibition ended, Gordon’s opened a United States distillery in Linden New Jersey. The plant remained in operation until 1984 when Distiller’s Company Ltd., who had acquired Tanguery Gordon & Co. in 1923, closed it down.

Most of the 1930’s post prohibition advertisements that I could find reference the Linden N.J. location.

Gordon’s is now part of Diageo.

Today, 101 Park Avenue is a 49-story skyscraper opened in the early 1980’s that in no way is associated with the business.

The bottle I found is a typical Gordon’s bottle described in the statement above with space for the label below the embossed registration number. The Design Registration No 610617 on the bottle that I found dates between 1912 and 1913. It’s mouth blown and that makes me think it was imported from England between 1913 and 1915 and not made in the United States. Anything made in the United States in 1916 from a newly established bottling plant would probably have been machine-made. I have also seen machine made versions of this bottle that were likely made in America.