Wednesday, February 21, 2024



"deliver (something) to a person's custody, typically in order for it to be sold"
I've been an avid collector, researcher, writer and dealer in western whiskies since the mid 1960's.
We've recently been approached by a number of non-collectors who have ended up with, through one situation or another, Western Whiskies. The initial conversation is always something on the order of; "I've got these old bottles, don't know anything about them, but was wondering if you could help me sell them". 

My response is always the same; let's take a look at them and see what I can do for you. Most of these initial contacts are via email. Just as well, as emailed photos help set the stage for the owners consigning the bottles to me.
Our services are priced reasonably; 10% of the final selling price of the item. That's it; Plain and Simple. We recently placed an amber picture cylinder for a client; it sold less than a week after receiving it. The consignor was sent certified funds for the proceeds once the sale was funded and was more than pleased with the entire process. They did ask, "why only 10% sellers fee and no buyers premium when compared to the big auction houses"?

The answer was simple; this is a labor of love, not a profit motivated business. I am well connected and have several avenues with which to merchandise western whiskies.
 If you, a relative, or even just an acquaintance of yours is interested in consigning to me, please don't hesitate to touch base. My email address is JSGLASS@Q.COM. Single items or large collections both receive the same attention to detail.

Please feel free to contact me if you'd like to explore consigning or an outright sale for cash.

Many thanks in advance, Bruce Silva
Western Whiskey Gazette




Tuesday, January 23, 2024


Just when you think you've seen it all!

We had another consignment arrive yesterday. This time, a picture cylinder, the likes of which I've never handled.

It is 11" tall, and 3 3/8" across the base (diameter). It has the Riley IT closure with the scarce Chevalier castle picture ebonite stopper. 


Rather than the standard fifth it appears to be a quart in capacity.

The closest that I can identify in WWB 4th edition is the #142. However placed side by side with the standard fifth, the difference is immediately obvious. See photo.

It is issue free, has a number of bubbles of various sizes, and the neck leans ever so slightly to the left, when viewed head on. And then there's the strike; strong, detailed, and crisp. The color is the icing on the cake; a striking light amber. 

As mentioned, it is a consignment. Feel free to touch base with me if you are interested in making an offer. 


Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Screw It!


Screw It!


That’s a term that many, or most, of us have used in one form or another since the beginning of time.





When it comes to bottle collectors, that phrase takes on another meaning. Now, I’m not talking about uttering that phrase after dropping a bottle and watching it grenade into a million pieces. I’m talking about the ubiquitous black thing that screws into the top of many western whiskies.









1902 has been generally accepted as the year that the black colored inside thread stopper with the orange “gasket” made its debut on the west coast. That assumption, although taken as gospel for decades, could not be farther from the truth. Recently I was admiring a couple of Lilienthal related fifths in my display. Both had the original embossed inside thread stoppers in place. And both had applied tops. One, a blood red Crown Distilleries, sported the hammer whittled effect and massive spillover on the applied long tapered collar; long known as having been blown in Germany. The other, a Lilienthal “small badge”, was more the color of a London Warners Safe Cure, but was also heavily whittled and sports spillover. The long tapered collar on this example was stippled in an identical manner to the clear glop tops that we associate with the German Connection or “GC”. Based on Tom Q’s research, coupled with the process of elimination, we’ve narrowed the window for the “GC” applied top western whiskies to roughly ca. 1888 – 1892. But wait, the Crown and the Lili both have inside thread closures and both are GC bottles. That’s ten years, give or take, earlier than originally thought.







Obviously these black screw stoppers were being produced and used much earlier than originally thought. My first clue was the addition of the words “Riley Patent” in addition to the liquor company’s name and or logo on the embossed western stoppers. A quick check of patents for inside thread closures shows that Frederick George Riley, of England, filed a patent for a modified screw stopper closure on July 6, 1885. 


His patent was the result of improvements on earlier European inside thread patents. It was met with immediate acceptance by soda / soft drink manufacturers in England and was gradually accepted later on by American west coast firms who bottled a harder beverage. 


Quite a number of bottles destined for the west coast liquor industry were blown in Germany. The glass factory that supplied bottles to the west coast adopted the inside thread as dictated by Abramson Heunisch, the “jobber” responsible for the German Connection whiskies. The stoppers were a vast improvement over the age old cork closure method. The side of the stoppers had grooves molded in to improve one’s grip. They were easily removed and reinstalled by hand and they didn’t require a cork screw or pick to get at the goods. By the time the 20th century rolled around, the Riley Patent stopper was in widespread use by domestic glass factories on the west coast. Trade catalogues in the US referred to them as the "American Screw Stopper." The stopper was extensively marketed by the American Screw Stopper Company, Limited, in Jersey City. 

The stoppers were comprised of pressed, hard / non-elastic, India rubber, often called “vulcanite”. The stoppers are also sometimes described as being made from “ebonite”, which in fact was the brand name for the vulcanized rubber – patented  by Charles Goodyear in 1846. Wrapped around the stopper was a sealing washer of pink (or orange) India rubber which was quite pliable when new and formed a tight seal. The stoppers themselves weather far better than the gasket, which in most instances has decomposed and is either badly cracked or missing entirely.

The most common stoppers are plain, followed by the star design stopper. 














The third style stopper is embossed with the company names, and or logo. Often “Riley or Riley's Patent” is cut into the mold as well. Some of the more common embossed ones encountered are Roth, Hanley Mercantile, Louis Taussig, and Kellogg's.  



 All of these were San Francisco firms. 


Occasionally, a liquor dealer would go all out and have a picture stopper manufactured. F. Chevalier (also of SF) was one and an elaborate stopper was made for their flagship brand, “Castle”.

They are scarce. 





Another picture stopper, “Black Crest”, posed a mystery, as no company name was present on the stopper. 


Turns out that only one company in the US offered the brand; Warren Watson of Oakland. 


Another fancy stopper, embossed Belle of Lancaster, was a mystery as well.



It too, turned out to be an exclusive product of Watson.






Following are some photos of more stoppers, and some stoppers mated to their embossed and or labeled bottles.













Next time you’re out scratching around, don’t forget to keep an eye out for, and bring home, the stoppers. Without the correct stopper, an inside thread whiskey is pretty much like a cake without the frosting~ 




PS: if you're in need of a stopper or two, feel free to check in with me. I've got a few dozen and may be able to help you out.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Something special.



Not exactly a whiskey but... I'll bet a lot of it was consumed on this auspicious occasion!

This is an interesting piece which will appeal to many collectors of various genres. It is a dance card for the 4th annual ball at Wadsworth Nevada, in 1902. The card is dated Dec. 31, 1902, and is significant for one reason, it was Wadsworth’s swan song.

Wadsworth Nevada was originally a wide spot on the trail, located on the Truckee River. It was a stopping spot for weary settlers headed west. Later, during the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, the Central Pacific (CP) selected this spot as being ideal for their repair shops. In 1868, they built a roundhouse, repair facilities, and a depot. Hotels, stores and saloons soon followed. A residential section also began to emerge.

All went well and the place thrived. In 1882 the CP elected to begin construction of new facilities (across the river) and by 1884, the relocation had been completed. 1884 was also significant because the original town site across the river burned to the ground. Things went well and the new town site continued to flourish for nearly twenty more years.

Clubs, lodges and fraternal organizations were popular and the Ladies Society of the BOF (I know not what this stands for) was one of the active groups. Lillian Flint was one of the members. On Dec. 31, 1902 Lillian attended the 4th annual ball.

There are many things about this dance card that make it unique. Check out the names of each dance! One of the other things that I noted is that Lillian dutifully wrote down each partner with whom she danced. That was until about half way through the evening. It would appear that either her feet gave out, or she had one too many libations, as the entries ceased with #7, a polka~


The date of this waltz (Dec 31, 1902) was significant. In 1902, the CP (by then the Southern Pacific - SP) had decided to realign their route and move their facilities, lock, stock and barrel, to their new company town, which we know today as Sparks.

The date of Dec. 31, 1902 was indeed Wadsworth’s swan song as the town emptied out as quickly as it had originally been built.



Saturday, December 24, 2022

 Happy Holidays 

Winter 2022-23


From Lili (Lilienthal - my yellow Lab) and I here at the "Western Whiskey Gazette"


(card courtesy of my close friends and ex neighbors, Bruce & Gretchen)


Thursday, November 17, 2022





Mr. Dictionary says…


A size of shot, 0.18 inch (0.46 centimeter) in diameter, fired from an air rifle or BB gun. Also called BB shot. 

Shot of this size.




Three years ago I sold my Victorian “mansion in the country” and placed my collection into storage. No, not a BB collection; my bottles! The rental house in town was a roof over my head, and nothing more. Less than half the size of the Victorian, there was little room for anything inside but the essentials. And so, the bottles sat boxed up in the garage for what seemed like an eternity.


Fast forward to 2022. I’d bought and remodeled a “mid century modern” two story home in Jacksonville proper. It was the COVID remodel from hell. I’ve built and remodeled a LOT of homes over the years but nothing could have prepared me for this project. A combination of manpower shortage, supply chain “issues”, and skyrocketing prices turned what should have been a fairly straightforward job into a prolonged nightmare. And so, the bottles sat boxed up in the garage once again for what seemed like another eternity.


Finally, I was able to afford to have the cabinets fabricated, the LED back lighting assembled and wired, and the display installed. The magic moment of “the great unpacking” had finally arrived. The foods went into a china cabinet in the kitchen. The bitters went into an ornate Victorian curved glass china in my office and the labeled whiskies and shots went into an equally ornate oak book case. The embossed cylinders and mini’s were placed in the new back lit display, which occupied an entire wall in the living room. It was like an early Christmas!


Recently, one of the bottle websites had a theme day; “bottles with embossed addresses”. Hmm, I wondered, how many western whiskies met the criteria? I was amazed to find only four out of well over 100 embossed western cylinders, and even less in the labeled group of a few dozen, qualified. I gave the collection another once over and a mini caught my eye.


Embossed “BB / Whiskey / Brinckmann Bros / Geary and Jones / S.F. Cal.” , the bottle measures 5 5/8” tall, is tooled, and clear with a manganese dioxide based cullet that will turn purple. It is to my knowledge, unique, as I’ve never seen or even heard of another in existence. 








I posted it as my contribution to the theme. Supposedly there is also a clear tooled embossed fifth “in the wild”, but I’ve never seen or heard of who owns it. Bob listed it as #83 and recorded the embossing as Brinckmann Bros / monogram / Geary and Jones  S.F. Cal.”.

John Oneill, an advanced collector and all around great guy, added a PS to my post stating “I have the coffin flask for them.” The flask is a half pint. It too is unique.


So, just who were these Brinckmann Brothers and why are their bottles as rare as a pair of lips on a chicken? I generally start my research using the SF City directories, and this case was no exception. Given the “construction” of the mini, I assumed that it would date ca. late 1880’s / early 1890’s or newer. I ran the search all the way through prohibition. Wholesale liquor dealers – zilch. Retail liquor dealers – nada. “Brinkman Bros.” in the general directory listings, nuthin…


Amazing though, how a simple mis-spelling on my part can account for countless hours of wasted time. Not “Brinkman Bros.” dummy; “Brinckmann Brothers”!!! I started over. Nothing in the searches through the TOC popped up. And then 1904 bore fruit. Not in liquor listings though. Instead, the general directory listed them as being grocers.


 The 1905 directory listing was pretty much a clone to the '04.


The “Brinckmann Brothers” were comprised of Frederick H. and his older brother August H.


They emigrated to the US from Bremervoerde, Germany in the early 1890's. By 1904 they had established themselves as the Brinckmann Bros. / grocers.  




Much like Wm. Cline, Goldberg Bowen, and several others in their earlier days, they apparently had a small “backroom” whiskey bottling operation in their grocery store and had an initial run of a gross each of cylinders, minis and flasks blown. The cost of private molds for such an operation would have been significant and they obviously had visions of grandeur. However, their endeavor was doomed to failure.


As noted the Brinckmann Brothers established their store, located at the corner of Geary and Jones, in 1904.  


At 5:12 AM on April 18, 1906, San Francisco was rocked by the worst earthquake in recorded west coast history. Fires broke out immediately. According to archived SFFD records, fire broke out “all through the merchantile (sp) districts. On both sides of Market Street embryo fires were discovered”. At 9AM on the 18th, the Woolworth Bank building, located at Post and Market, caught fire. Roughly ten minutes later, the Brinckmann Bros. grocery building caught fire and burned to the ground. By the time the flames died out on April 21st, 25,000 buildings lay in smoldering ruins. Much of San Francisco had burned to the ground.


“In the weeks following the fire Fredericks wife, being a very practical North German, saw an opportunity for them to get back on their feet when she heard that the civil authorities were paying men to clean bricks of the fallen buildings for reconstruction.  Frederick disappointed her by not taking full advantage of the brick cleaning opportunity.  Instead, he took his Ansco No.5 camera, and armed with several rolls of film”, began to walk the ruins taking the pictures of the earthquake and fire damage that many will recognize to this day.











After “the earthquake and fire destroyed the store, Frederick and his family came to live with his wife's family in the less affected area of the Mission district and eventually reopened his grocery store there”.  



The year of 1907 saw the brothers go their separate ways. Although both remained grocers, they owned and operated stores in different parts of the city; Frederick at 3394 26th St. and August to the northwest, at 3799 17th St. 



In closing, we western whiskey aficionados have the brothers Brinckmann to thank for three extreme rarities, courtesy of their visions of grandeur and the 1906 Earthquake and Fire.




I’d like to thank Dale F. Smith, descendant of Frederick, and his “Photograph by F. H. Brinckmann” for some of the photos and text contained herein.

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