I. Goldberg, 171 E. Broadway, Houston Cor. Clinton St., 5th Ave. Cor. 115th St., New York City, Graham Cor. Debevoise St., Pitkin Cor. Rockaway Ave., Brooklyn.

The New York City wine and liquor business 0f Isaac Goldberg began in the mid to late 1880’s at a single Manhattan location. By the time National Prohibition was enacted it had grown to include store locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx as well as a Brooklyn distribution center.

According to 1910 census records Goldberg, a Russian Jew, immigrated to the United States in 1885. He was first listed in the New York City directories in 1888 with the occupation “wines,” at 138 1/2 Division Street in Manhattan. At the time he was associated with his brother-in-law, Phillip S. Spero of Philadelphia, manufacturing wine for religious purposes.

In 1889 Spero was on trial in Philadelphia for selling the wine, some of which had fermented and contained 16% alcohol, without a license. The coverage of the trial in the May 19, 1889 edition of The (New York) Sun included some background and the early history of the business.

Phillip S. Spero of 701 South Sixth Street was yesterday brought into the Old Court House and tried before Judge Finletter on the charge of selling Passover wine without a license. Spero is a Russian Hebrew and has been in this country only three years. He is in partnership with his brother-in-law, Mr. Isaac Goldberg of New York City, engaged in the manufacture of what the Hebrews call “raisin wine” or “Passover wine,” which is used in the Hebrew-Russian ceremony three times on their Sabbath (Saturdays) and during the whole time of the Passover. The cannons of the church require that the wine be unfermented.

Lawyer Singer of the firm of Furth & Singer, represented the defendant. He called the accused, who testified through interpreter Samson, that he had been in the country only three years, and that he formerly lived with his father in England, from whom he obtained the recipe for making the wine. He had made it in England after his father died, and when he came to this country he formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, Isaac Goldberg of New York, for the purpose of manufacturing and selling this wine to the Russian Hebrews in New York and Philadelphia. He said the wine was not intoxicating, and he had no intention of breaking the law.

His brother-in law, Goldberg, next took the stand and told how the wine was made. He said it was made of California grapes, raisins, sugar, blackberries and water. He did not know whether it fermented or not.

The jury found Spero guilty but recommended mercy. The Sun story went on to say:

Mr. Singer, counsel for the defendant, made an appeal to the court for mercy on the ground that the law had not been violated knowingly or with any intent to break the law. He stated that the defendant had given up the business after the arrest, and if the Judge would discharge him on his good behavior there would be no further cause of complaint.

Assuming Spero held to his word, this marked the end of the business in Philadelphia, however, it was apparently just the start in New York where it would continue up until the start of National Prohibition.

As early as 1890 Goldberg’s clientele had certainly begun to expand beyond New York’s Russian-Hebrew community. That year he was listed at 7 Allen Street, with an occupation that now included both “wine” and “liquor.” The next year he relocated to 133 East Broadway where he remained listed as a wholesale liquor dealer through 1901.

In 1902 he moved his operation to 171 East Broadway and the following year he listed his second Manhattan location, a store at 3 Clinton Street. By the end of the decade he had added another Manhattan store at 1390 Fifth Avenue (1905), as well as two in Brooklyn; one at 1691 Pitkin Avenue (1907) and the other at 28 Graham Avenue (1909). Each of these branch stores was located at an intersection corner in an obvious effort to maximize street-level visibility.

Goldberg’s business was unique in that a significant portion of his work force was deaf. A March 18, 1907 story picked up by several different U. S. newspapers provided some details.

Isaac Goldberg, a wholesale liquor dealer of 171 East Broadway, who is prominent in charitable movements on the lower East Side, says he has solved one problem of labor.

In his bottling department the entire force of workmen are mutes and Goldberg says that they accomplish three times as much work and are 50 percent less troublesome than twice their number of ordinary workmen. Goldberg inaugurated the reform several weeks ago. About six weeks ago, Hyman Sadolsky, 16 year old, mute, went into Goldberg’s place and asked for assistance. He made known to the proprietor that he was anxious to get employment, and Goldberg resolved to try him. He was put to work in the bottling department where conversation is detrimental to the best interests of the establishment.

After the boy had been there a week Goldberg found that he did a great deal more work than anybody else in the shop, and resolved to get more like him.  There was some trouble at first between the boy and the other employees, but as a vacancy occurred it was filled with a deaf mute, until finally the entire department was operated by mutes, there being fifteen in all.

Referred to as the “Lead Pencil Club,” another story, this one published in the July 5, 1907 edition of the The Sun, related the meaning behind their name.

The reason for the name the “Lead Pencil Club” is that everyone goes about his business with a lead pencil behind his ear and carries a book. When the boss wants to send a messenger in a hurry somewhere he puts down a few words on a piece of paper and if the workman wants to ask a question down comes his pencil and he writes a question on a piece of paper.

The group even had its own internal organization within the business and was certainly treated with respect. The July 5th Sun story drives home both points with the following description of their 4th of July festivities.

The Lead Pencil Club, which is made up of deaf mutes who are employed in Isaac Goldberg’s wholesale wine and liquor store at 171 East Broadway, celebrated the Fourth quietly.

Twenty of these deaf mutes started the day by a feast in the basement of the store. At the head of the table sat the president, Abraham Eiseberg, and Sam Rosenberg, the vice-president, who read the Declaration of Independence by signs. When he showed them by signs and motions July 4, 1776, all the deaf mutes raised flags and waved them.

After the feast the deaf mutes went to Staten Island for a baseball game with the employees of Goldberg who can talk. The deaf mutes of Goldberg beat the employees who can talk by a score of 8 to 1.

It appears that the business peaked in the early-teens having added two locations in the Bronx at 878 Prospect Avenue and 1575 Washington Avenue as well as what was referred to as a distribution department on 41st Street in Brooklyn. It was around this time that the business incorporated in New York as I. Goldberg, Inc., with $100,000 capital. The 1915 N.Y.C. Copartnership and Corporation Directory named Isaac president, with sons Joseph, Samuel and Shepard named vice president, treasurer and secretary, respectively. Two years later Shepard was listed as the president and Isaac was no longer included in the company listing having either passed away or retired.

Prohibition almost certainly put an end to the business at which time the sons apparently scattered. On October 24, 1918 the New York Times published an announcement that two of Isaac’s sons, Shepard and Samuel, had incorporated a food product company under the name I. Goldberg’s Sons using the 171 East Broadway address. I Goldberg, Inc. remained listed at the Pitkin Avenue address but by 1920 their occupation was changed to “drugs.”

The bottle I found is a mouth blown fifth or quart. The main body includes eight flat panels deisgned to accommodate embossing. Five of these panels include the company name, I. Goldberg as well as the company’s three Manhattan locations (171 E. Broadway, Houston cor. Clinton St. and 5th Ave. cor. 115th St.) and two Brooklyn locations (Pitkin cor. Rockaway Ave. and Graham cor. Debevoise St.). This dates the bottle’s manufacture to no earlier than 1909 when they began including their second Brooklyn location, Graham Avenue, in the Brooklyn directories.

Three panels on the bottle are vacant suggesting that it was made before the first Bronx location was listed in the directories, sometime around 1913. This narrows the bottle’s manufacture to the roughly five year period between 1909 and 1913.

On a final note, the bottle also includes an embossed statement on the shoulder indicating that the company was established in 1873.

It’s likely that Goldberg took some marketing liberties utilizing this 1873 date, as he’s apparently referencing back to the wine making days of Phillip Spero and his father in England.


John Fennell, Boston

Beginning in 1879 John Fennell managed a wholesale wine and liquor business in Boston Massachusets. He owned the business for over 30 years from 1886 to 1919.

Census records indicate that Fennell was born in Ireland sometime in the early 1850’s and by the mid-1860’s had relocated to Canada where he became associated with Thomas Furlong. Furlong ran a wholesale and retail liquor business in St John, N. B. where he was listed in the St. John and Fredericton Business Directory as early as 1862. That directory also included an advertisement touting  his wines, liquors and a product called “Allsop’s Ales.”

When Furlong opened a branch location in Boston he named Fennell as his manager. The notice announcing the opening of Furlong’s Boston branch appeared in the March 14, 1879 edition of the  Boston Globe.

MR. THOMAS FURLONG, the well known wine merchant of St. John, N. B., has opened a branch of his establishment at 161 Devonshire Street and 22 Arch Street, under the management of Mr. John Fennell, who has been with Mr. Furlong for twelve years, and in whom he reposes every confidence. He has just issued a neat and comprehensive catalogue, embracing the wines of Spain, Portugal, France and Germany… Mr. Furlong has had experience of twenty-five years in the wine trade, and his selections can be relied upon as of the very best.

It wasn’t long before Furlong was advertising in the local newspapers. Advertisements for “Furlong’s Irish Malt Whiskey” began appearing as early as the March 30, 1879 edition of the Boston Globe.

The Boston branch continued to operate under Furlong’s ownership and Fennel’s management up until October 16 1886 when Furlong turned the business over to his long time manager. Fennel announced the change in ownership in the October 17, 1886 edition of the Boston Globe.

161 DEVONSHIRE STREET, October 16, 1886.

Mr. Thomas Furlong has relinquished the wine and spirit business carried on by him at 161 Devonshire and 22 Arch Streets, Boston, through me and under my superintendence for a number of years past. I have, therefore, the pleasure of announcing that I have opened at the old stand, and that in the future the business will be conducted as heretofore, but in my name solely.

My stock of wines, Cognac brandies, whiskeys, etc., is a very extensive one; and all goods being personally selected, I am in the position to give my customers, as in the past, the same pure and reliable goods at reasonable prices. Soliciting a continuance of the support given in the past, I am most respectfully,


An advertisement that appeared in several 1893 editions of the Fall River (Mass) Daily Herald provided a general overview of Fennell’s wine and liquor menu along with his related sales pitch.

FINE WINES – Having visited most of the wine-producing districts of Europe last summer, and personally selected a large line of fine wines, that are not held at fancy prices, but are honestly graded according to age and quality, I would call particular attention to my stock of sherries and ports. They embrace every variety, from the sound young wine to the rare old vintage of 1847, and ranging in price from Eight to Fifty dollars a dozen and from $2.50 to $10 a gallon.

OLD BRANDIES – have been selected from leading houses of Cognac, and I am in a position to offer my customers pure and reliable goods from the celebrated vintage of 1858, costing $48 per dozen, and fine champagne brandies from $6 to $14 per gallon.

PURE WHISKIES – that are stored in sherry wine casks have a mellowness not found in other whiskies, and being honestly aged are free from those heating qualities usually found in so called old goods. Buying all whiskies from the distillery direct, I can sell fine goods from $8 a dozen up to the celebrated O.F.R., costing $30, and ordinary and special, in wood from $8 to $10 pre gallon.

As evidenced by this March 24, 1887 Boston Globe advertisement, he also continued to sell the same “Allsop Ales” that Furlong marketed back in 1862.

Up through 1902 the company address continued to be listed as 161 Devonshire and 22 Arch Streets. Actually one location, the building occupied the short block between Arch and Devonshire with addresses on both streets. Then, sometime in 1903 or 1904 their address changed to 177 Devonshire and 38 Arch Street.

Fennell’s 1904 liquor license notice described the property like this:

No.s 177 Devonshire St., 38 Arch St., and elevator entrance to cellar at 40 Arch St. in said Boston, in two rooms, first floor, cellar for stock only, of said building.

The company remained at that location until, according to this May 29, 1919 story in the Boston Globe, they closed the doors for good, a victim of Prohibition.

Prohibition claims its first victim in Boston today, when John Fennell will lock up for all time his long-famed wine shop at 175 Devonshire St. and 34 Arch St…”Prohibition is coming and you can’t stop it,” mused Mr. Fennell yesterday amid the mellow atmosphere of jugs, dust laden bottles and ambrosial liquids. “It’s coming like a great wave headed for the bow of a ship and its going to break soon. But it’s going to miss me.”

Here’s some information. Whisper it about. In the past year $200,000 in liquor has passed out of the Fennell shop – and not all, certainly, for immediate consumption. Are the bugs loading up?

“Why look here,” said the veteran liquor merchant, “six weeks ago I said to myself I never could unload my stock by this time. But here I am cleaned out. Not a bottle in the shop.”

Nine years later John Fennell passed away while on a trip to England. According to his obituary published in the June 2, 1928 edition of the Boston Globe:

Mr. Fennell went to England in April and was taken ill on the trip across. He recovered while on a visit to relatives in Liverpool but then had a sudden relapse and died Thursday.

The bottle I found is a cylinder that likely contained a fifth of whiskey. Blown in a three piece mold it’s embossed John Fennell, Boston, so it was likely manufactured no earlier than 1886 when Fennel took over the business.


Fennell’s obituary stated that he was born in St. John, N.B. This conflicts with census records from 1880 through 1920 that list his birthplace as Ireland. For purposes of this post I chose to accept the census records.

Coca Mariani, Paris


The term Coca Mariani encompassed a series of coca based products one of which was a Bordeaux produced wine infused with coca leaves called Vin Mariani. Originally formulated in the 1860’s by M. Angelo Mariani, it would go on to become extremely popular in the United States from the 1880’s up until the early 1900’s.

Born in 1838, the early part of Mariani’s career is described in a book entitled “A Brief History of Cocaine,” by Steven B. Karch, M. D., published in 2006.

It can be said with reasonable certainty, that Mariani worked as an apprentice pharmacist in Paris at Chantrels, a pharmacy located on the Rue de Clichy. Sometime during his apprenticeship years, Mariani moved to another pharmacy in Saint-Germain. He always claimed that he was a certified pharmacist, and his death certificate supports that claim, but there is no record that he ever passed the examination required for certification.

The book goes on to say that he first produced his coca wine while still working as a pharmacy assistant. Later, his advertisements would state that it was “introduced through the medical profession since 1863.” Whether this was the date he first produced the wine; the date he first went into business for himself or just a convenient date for advertising purposes is not clear. Suffice to say, as evidenced by this November 8, 1879 advertisement in the British Medical Journal, by the late 1870’s his business was not only up and running in Paris, at 41 Boulevard Haussmann, but he was also selling his coca wine in England through the reputable pharmacy of Roberts & Co.

In the United States, the company’s operation was headquartered in NewYork City, where Mariani & Co. were first listed in 1883 with an address of 50 Exchange Place. Later they listed 19 East 16th Street (1884 to 1885) and 127 Fifth Avenue (1886 to 1888) before ultimately moving to their long time location of 52 West 15th Street in 1889.

A May 23, 1896 story in the Minneapolis Tribune described their turn of the century operation.

Mr. Mariani has the largest laboratory in France, and here he prepares, in addition to Vin Mariani, a number of other preparations well known to the scientific world. In Burgandy he has large tracts of vine-land where, by means of the blending of certain varieties of wines, he produces the grape from which the wine itself used in Vin Mariani is obtained. He is the largest buyer in the world of Peruvian cocoa, selecting the best leaves for use in his preparations and re-selling the balance to the general trade. He alone, possesses the secret of extracting all the tonic and aromatic principles in the cocoa leaf, and at the same time eliminating the alkaloid. It is the secret, together with the magnificent old Burgundy employed, that has given Vin Mariani its world wide fame.

By the late 1880’s several “coca preparations” were being advertised in the United States under the Mariani name. In addition to his wine, called Vin Mariani, this December, 1885 advertisement mentioned a liqueur, Elixir Mariani; an extract, The Mariani and crystallized lozenges, Pate Mariani.

Vin Mariani was certainly the most heavily advertised and apparently most popular of the lot. This description of its affects was typical of newspaper advertisements from the late 1800’s.

Mariani Wine is certainly the greatest tonic the world has ever known. It strengthens the nerves and gives tone to the general system. It is invaluable as a spring medicine when the system is weakened by changes of temperature and especially susceptible to attacks of malaria and la grippe.

Mariani Wine is specially indicated for throat and lung diseases, general debility, weakness from whatever causes, overwork, profound depression and exhaustion, consumption, malaria and la grippe. It is an adjuvant in convalescence and a powerful rejuvenator. For overworked men, delicate women, sickly children it works wonders.

While its questionable as to whether or not Angelo Mariani was a certified pharmacist, there’s absolutely no question that he was a top notch marketer and one of the first to employ the use of celebrity endorsements in his advertising. According to “Cocaine: An Unauthorized Biography,” by Dominic Streatfeild, published in 2001, Mariani would send free cases of wine to leading celebrities of the day, asking what they thought of it and requesting a signed photograph in return. The book goes on to say:

It is difficult to know whether the celebrities who responded were simply acknowledging the receipt of a gift, or whether they were generally impressed with the product, but the result was the same: a huge pile of letters from the most impressive men and women of the age, all apparently advocating the use of Vin Mariani.

Advertisements featuring celebrity endorsements from politicians, actors, musicians, religious leaders and even royalty began appearing in United States newspapers and magazines beginning in 1894. At minimum, the advertisements typically included a sketch of the celebrity and a quote from them. This May 14, 1898 advertisement in The (Washington D.C.) Evening Star featuring Victorien Sardou and Sarah Bernhardt was typical.

If one were to believe Mariani’s advertising, even the Empress of Russia was so impressed that she ordered a case of 50 bottles of Vin Miriani.

Anitchkoff Palace, St Petersburg, Dec. 6, 1894 – “Her Majesty Marie Feodorowna, finding great benefit from the use of your Tonic-Wine, requests that a case of 50 bottles Vin Mariani be sent immediately, addressed to Her Majesty the Empress.” By Order of the Court Physician.

Even Pope Leo XIII got involved, awarding Angelo Mariani a papal gold medal.

The advertising campaign was quite successful, as evidenced by this January 25, 1900 advertisement in the Manitoba Morning Free Press, that indicated by the turn of the century Vin Mariani’s availability had reached  world-wide proportions.

“Vin Mariani Encircles the World,” and it is a truism to say “Vin Mariani is always attended by a noonday sun.”

By the early 1900’s however, in the United States the American Medical Association was clamping down on patent medicines and their outlandish claims. In a report published in their November 24, 1906 Journal they questioned the validity of the quotes in Mariani’s testimonials.

The testimonials of these great men and women are enough to convince the most skeptical that this remarkable medicine will do everything but raise the dead – and even under favorable conditions accomplish even this. And still more it will win battles! Witness this from the governor-general of Madagascar: “We were refreshed by Vin Mariani, and before morning carried the stronghold.” Alexander Dumas and Emile Zola are credited with calling it “the elixir of life.” One very strange thing about the testimonials in the circular used in this country is that all are written by foreigners. But Americans (President McKinley – think of it! – among others) are honored by having their testimonials quoted in the circulars used on the other side of the Atlantic. Why? Is it possible that the testimonials are fakes?

In the same journal the A.M.A. had other issues with Vin Mariani as well. Tests they performed revealed that only the Bordeaux wine was imported from France and much of the remaining ingredients, including coca and sugar were added in this country. As a result the A.M.A. took this position:

According to the above report Vin Mariani as imported is simply an ordinary cheap French wine, the preparation sold in this country as Vin Mariani being compounded in this country. Yet the advertising literature, the label on the bottle, etc., state directly that it is a French preparation. Until recently – presumably until the vendors realized that the truth regarding this point would come out – the advertisements in medical journals contained an analysis made by a chemist in Paris. The shape of the bottle, the character of the printed matter accompanying the bottle, etc., are evidently intended to convey the impression that it is imported. Vin Mariani is sold under gross misrepresentations and is a fraud.

No surprise the A.M.A.,  also claimed that the product made unwarranted, exaggerated and mis-leading statements as to its therapeutic value and, suggesting that it was intended not as a medicine but as a beverage, the report recommended that it be refused recognition as a medicine.

This appears to be the beginning of the end for Mariani’s coca preparations in the United States. Around this time their advertising had become less frequent, and ultimately , whether the result of stricter food and drug laws, looming National Prohibition, Angelo Mariani’s death in 1914, or more likely a combination of all three, by 1920 Mariani & Company was no longer listed in the New York City directories.

The bottle I found is mouth blown and embossed just below the shoulder “Coca Mariani,” and “Paris,” and there’s similar embossing on its base.  It likely contained either Vin Mariani or Elixir Mariani both of which were sold in 17 ounce bottles similar to the one shown in an October 1893 advertisement published in a magazine called  “The Alienist and Neurologist.” Other advertisements show that back in the day it was likely sold in a paper wrapper.


Based on the November, 1906 A.M.A. Journal quoted above, regardless of the embossing and labeling, it’s not likely that the bottle and/or its entire contents actually originated in France.

Renault Winery (L.N. Renault & Sons), Egg Harbor, N.J.


Renault is a winery located in Egg Harbor City, Atlantic County, New Jersey operated for years under the company name of L. N. Renault & Sons. As of 2015 it was the oldest active winery in New Jersey and some web sites say in the United States.

Louis Nicholas Renault, a former vintner for the Duke of Montebello at Rhiems, center of the French champagne district, established his winery in 1864. The winery opened to the public in 1870 and for many years was the largest producer of champagne in the United States. The winery once cultivated 600 acres and sold 500,000 cases of wine per year.

In 1919, John D’Augustino and family bought the winery and continued to operate it during National Prohibition under a special government permit. The permit allowed the production of wines for religious and medicinal purposes. Renault Wine Tonic, which had an alcoholic content of 22 percent, became the chief product and was sold in drug stores across the nation as a health tonic. A label warned not to chill the tonic because it would turn into wine. (It was 44 proof alchohol with an added ingredient called peptine. When chilled, the peptine separated and froze on the bottom leaving the wine floating on top.). An advertisement for Renault Tonic featured a young woman in a pink gown and called the tonic the “fountain of youth,” touting that it relieved fatigue.


Others, like this April 14, 1927 advertisement in the Baltimore (Maryland) Sun, billed it as a “Reconstructive Tonic and System Builder.”

At the end of National Prohibition, a February 8, 1934 story picked up by a large number of U.S. newspapers described the Renault operation like this:

L. N. Renault & Sons, Inc. maintains at Egg Harbor City, New Jersey, two large wineries, one of which remains on its original site, having been built in the year 1870. Since the inception of this company quality wines have always been made and produced, which is one of the reasons why this company has been able to maintain throughout the years a national reputation that has enabled a constant growth and demand for its products. It boasts has having one of the largest stocks of domestic champagnes, which have always been and still are manufactured by a French process which is natural fermentation in the bottle.

The story went on to list a wide range of Renault products available at the close of Prohibition.

Some of the many Renault old vintage wines available at state liquor stores are Renault extra dry champagne, sparkling Burgundy, Sherry, Port, Claret St. Julien, Chablis, Reisling, Sauterne, Madeira, Angelica and Tokay. In addition to these wines, the state stores are also selling Renault’s orange bitters, which is one of the leading brands of bitters sold throughout the country today.

In recent years, the business has expanded into a resort featuring a hotel, restaurants and a golf course and wine production has decreased. The property is currently owned by a company called Vivamee Hospitality.

The bottle I found is machine made and identical to the bottles pictured in the Renault Tonic advertisements shownabove. This December 15, 1929 advertisement in the Atlanta (Georgia) Constitution indicated that the tonic was sold in two sizes, 12 and 23 ounces. It’s certainly the larger of the two.

In addition to the Port, Sherry and Muscatel mentioned in the advertisement, I’ve also seen a Tokay advertised.

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.


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.

Garrett & Co, Inc., Virginia Dare, New York


Garrett and Co. was established in 1835 in North Carolina and was a manufacturer of American wines using the indigeous Scuppernong grape. Virginia Dare was their most popular wine named for the first child born in America to English settlers. Dare was born on Roanoke Island which is also home to the Mother Vine, a Scuppernong vine said to be the oldest cultivated grapevine in the world. Pochahontas and Minnehaha were names of two other Garrett & Co wines.

Paul Garrett served as president of the company from 1889 until his death in 1940. His obituary in the March 20, 1940 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle provided some early history on Garrett and his company.

Mr. Garrett was born in Halifax County, N.C. and at the age of 17 started work in Garrett & Co., which had been founded in 1835 by his father and an uncle, and which was then located at Weldon N.C. He became president of the company when he was 25 and started on a program of expansion which led in following years to offices in Norfolk, Va., in California and finally to establishing national headquarters for the business in Brooklyn in 1911.

The first New York listing I can find for them is in the 1917 Telephone Directory. In the 1922 Copartnership and Corporation Directory of Brooklyn and Queens they’re listed as a distiller and rectifier of spirits. The address was 882 3rd Avenue (Building 10 of Bush Terminal).

The company managed to survive and even prosper during National Prohibition but it literally took an act of Congress. A story in the August 4, 1919 issue of Elmira N.Y.’s Star Gazette describes the company’s approach.

Paul Garrett of Garrett & Company, announces that he will buy grapes from the growers in this section as well as various other sections of country where his plants are located just as soon as the crop has matured sufficiently to be made into wine. Mr. Garrett will convert all of the fruit into wine, run it into the thousands of tanks and cases built for that purpose, let it age sufficiently and then transport the product to Brooklyn, where he has an immense plant at the Bush Terminal. Here the wine will be put through a secret process extracting the alcohol from it, and will then be marketed, a non-alcoholic pleasant beverage entirely in a class of its own and decidedly different from grape juice.

In order to do this it was necessary for Mr. Garrett to have a special act of Congress passed giving him permission to manufacture wine even though the country is dry, but the law requires him to give a bond of $200,000 to insure that there will be no violation of the prohibition laws of the various states in which he does business…

The alcohol taken from the wine, Mr. Garrett says will be used in the manufacture of extracts such as vanilla, lemon, orange, etc.

The bond demanded by Congress will increase proportionate to gallons of wine shipped until it will approximate a half million dollars. The product, although non-alcoholic, will be labeled wine and the regulation wine tax will be levied against each gallon manufactured.

According to a story in the June 26, 1920 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, this allowed them to save and even enlarge their Brooklyn plant and build a 2,000,000 gallon storage plant in St. Louis. It also saved five plants in North Carolina, five plants in western New York, one plant in Ohio and four along the Pacific Coast.

The story goes on to describe the Brooklyn operation in 1920.

The Brooklyn plant is the main distributing center for the East. It employs about 125 men and about 60 women in the bottling and packing and storing plants; about 25 in the office.

It turns out over 48,000 bottles of Virginia Dare non-alcoholic wine a day and between 50,000 and 75,000 bottles of Virginia Dare extracts between dawn and sunset.

It covers 175,000 square feet of floor space in Bush Loft No. 10. Its big vats, filled with 1,750,000 gallons of wine waiting to be de-alcoholized, are kept in the cellars of both Loft No. 9 and No. 10. Beyond all doubt, they are Brooklyn’s most valuable and least dangerous cellars.

A fleet of 100 big tank railroad cars is kept busy bringing in the wine for the de-alcoholizing process. These cars are all glass lined.

It has an annual capacity of over 15,000,000 quarts of wine. It has a capacity of over 20,000,000 bottles of extract.

A prohibition era advertisement for the de-alcoholized Virginia Dare wine featured a bottle similar to the one I found. The bottle’s finish has a bead that looks like it will accept a crown cap but below the bead it looks more like a brandy finish.


The flavoring extract side of the business was incorporated as the Virginia Dare Extract Company, Inc. in 1923. One of their advertisements that year touted a sherry wine made semi-solid: “If Mother Hubbard had only known about Virginia Dare the cupboard wouldn’t have been bare.”

The company continued to make wine (and champagne) after the end of Prohibition and according to one Internet account held 10,000 acres of cultivated vineyard in New York, North Carolina and California in 1945. The winemaking business was sold to Constellation brands in 1965.  The extract piece of the business continues to operate today.

The bottle I found is a quart size, machine made and most likely produced during the Prohibition years (one of 15 million per year!). I also found a 1 1/2 ounce machine made extract bottle embossed on the base: “Insist on Virginia Dare” and “Pat App for Favors”


Pichel & Schwab, 174 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y.


The business of Pichel and Schwab was first listed in the Brooklyn directories around 1897 as “liquors” at 174 Bedford Avenue. They are not listed in 1895. The business was listed in the various Brooklyn Directories up through 1920.  Most listings labeled them as either “liquors” or “wine merchants.”

1900 census records list Adolph Pichel, Jacob Schwab and his son Daniel, all living at 174 Bedford Avenue, so it appears they were the founders of the business.

Up through 1907 the business listed a single address at 174 Bedford Avenue, then in 1909 they added a second location at 1351 Fulton Street. Both of these addresses were listed between 1909 and 1914. The directory classifications generally labeled the Bedford Avenue location as “wholesale liquors” or “wine merchants.” The Fulton Street location was simply labeled liquors so it was probably the retail store.

The 1910 census records showed Adolph Pichel living on Bedford Ave and Daniel Schwab living on Fulton Street. Based on this I assume it was a relatively small operation with each living at or above one of the stores.

Over the years, they occasionally  listed other addresses as well including: Metropolitan Ave., corner of Graham and 48 Sumpter. I assume these were also retail locations.

In 1915 they dropped the Bedford Avenue address and just listed the single location on Fulton Street. By 1920 the business had moved to 278 Ralph Avenue, also in Brooklyn.

The business was almost certainly a victim of National Prohibition. The February, 1920 telephone book listed Pichel & Schwab, liquors, at 278 Ralph Avenue. Three months later, in the May listings, the business name had  changed to Pichel Products and 1920 census records listed Adolph Pichel’s occupation as “wholesale merchant – candy.”

Daniel Schwab was also included in the 1920 census with no occupation. By 1930 he was in the oil business

One of the products they were associated with was King David’s Monogram Whiskey. A Pichel and Schwab shot glass, exhibited on e-bay, advertised both the Bedford Avenue and Fulton Street addresses.

The building at 174 Bedford has recently been razed. In 2015 a new building was under construction there.

The bottle I found looks like a pretty common champagne style beer bottle. Based on the above research, it may have contained wine or at some point they also bottled beer. The bottle has a tooled blob finish (12 oz) embossed with the Bedford Ave address.