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.”