Friday, December 17, 2010


This time of year, the relentless Oregon winter gloom, accompanied by rain, snow and pogonip (ice fog), turns my thoughts to Hawaii.

I've always had a soft spot for "the islands". My father lived on the big island (Hawaii proper) forever. My daughter and her family resided on Oahu, just outside of Pearl Harbor off and on for several years. I've spent my share of time on these islands, as well as Kauai and Maui. There's just something about the warm sea air, tropical breezes and billowing white clouds that soothes the inner beast.

And of course, there's the history~ Lots and lots of history; much of it intertwined with the pre-prohibition San Francisco wholesale liquor trade. Molokai, Hawaii and Oahu are all well known for the quantity and quality of western tooled and glop top whiskies found there. The towns, cane plantation dumps and mountain ravines have in the past (and continue to) give up treasures. Treasures with names like Spears Pioneer, Cutter, M. Rothenburg (cluck - cluck), Lilienthal, and Spruance Stanley all abound in collections over there. Hilo, Kona, Lahaina, Wailua, Ewa, Kihea, and of course Honolulu, have all produced spectacular S.F. whiskey finds over the years.

And we can't forget to give due credit to the whiskies indigenous to Hawaii proper. A thriving liquor trade existed from the eighties through to prohibition. The oldest, C.L. Richards & Co. - Honolulu S.I. (Sandwich Islands) dates to around 1858, is olive green and should by all rights have a big ol' blowpipe or iron pontil scar on the base. As far as I know, there's only two in existence.

Next in the batting lineup is the slug plate MacFarlane & Co. I've spent countless hours in the archives, located on the Iolani Palace Grounds in downtown Honolulu. There's a wealth of information there, if one is patient and dogged enough to figure out how and where it's stored... MacFarlane (actually G.W. & Co.) dates back to the early eighties. He was first located in the Beaver Block, a two-story structure located at Fort and Queen Streets, which was completed in 1882. Progressive, his building sported the first elevator (albeit manual and not electrified) in the islands, allowing patrons easy access to the second floor, from the Beaver Saloon located on the first. Competition must have been stiff as the front page of the January 1, 1887 (Honolulu) Daily Herald has multiple advertisements for Hackfield, Lilienthal, Spruance Stanley, Martinelli, and of course, MacFarlane. Conjecture has long been tossed about that MacFarlane & Co. actually became part of the Lilienthal corporate umbrella and the slug cylinders bear more than a passing resemblance to the Van Schuyver and Crown Distilleries slug plates. If so, the merger occurred post 1887 as evidenced by this newspaper. The MacFarlane slug plate was made over a wide time span, and as such, the bottles evolved from the crude glop tops of 1882, into the neatly made tool top era, ca. 1910.

Walter Chamberlain Peacock, abbreviated to W.C., was another successful wholesale liquor magnate whose success spanned many years. W. C. was originally an English businessman. Upon his arrival in the islands in 1881, Peacock entered into the Hawaii wholesale liquor arena with George Freeth. Later, Freeth took leave and the firm of W. C. Peacock & Co. was born. In 1890, Peacock had the Royal Saloon Building built in Honolulu’s Chinatown district at Nu‘uanu and Merchant Street. As his liquor fortunes continued to pile up, he branched out and had the 75-room, 4-story Moana Hotel constructed, which opened in Waikiki on March 11, 1901. Each room featured a bathroom and telephone (luxurious amenities at the time).

The hotel also boasted Oahu's first electric elevator. The bottles produced for the Peacock empire range from the red whittled "German Connection" glop tops of the nineties, through the neatly tooled era.

Most of the later bottles look as though they could have been blown yesterday. Sadly, prohibition spelled the end for the wholesale liquor portion of Peacocks financial success story.

Lovejoy & Co. can be positively dated as far back as 1899. The Honolulu Republican announced that one parcel had arrived aboard the S.S. China on Jan. 4, 1899 and another on the S.S. Alameda on Dec. 6, 1899, destined for Lovejoy & Co., but was being held pending receipt of duties to be collected by the U.S. government customs house in Honolulu. Hawaii had been added as a US territory in the summer of 1898 and an ongoing battle between the feds and the local merchants had been simmering for months (sound familiar?). A lengthy search of the archives revealed that David H. Lewis and John D. Holt were the principals doing business under the firm name of Lovejoy & Company. Interesting to note that both Peacock and Lovejoy sued the Republic of Hawaii on March 29, 1899, in an attempt to recover their goods. The disposition of the case is not known although all indications are that they lost the suit since the classified ads announced an upcoming auction of their goods some months later. Regardless, Lovejoy & Co. continued to prosper well into the 20th century. Although not, common, the amber tooled cylinder is a mainstay in most western whiskey collections.

Last, but not least, enter Hoffschlaeger & Co. I found one reference to Ed Hoffschlaeger & Co dating as far back as 1889, although there was no indication of whether he was involved in the sugar business or in retail goods at that time. I was able to trace the firm proper, as liquor dealers, back as far as 1895. The (Honolulu) Independent posted an advertisement on Nov. 7 for Ed Hoffschlaeger & Co, located on King St. opposite Castle & Cook, dealing in Wines, Liquors & Beers of the highest grade. He also boasted a large selection of carpets and rugs, along with sewing machines, baby carriages, pianos, organs and guitars. Sounds like a 19th century version of Wal-Mart if you ask me... A like ad, that appeared in the Daily Bulletin dated October 30, 1893, is virtually identical, but lacks any reference to liquor. Hoffschlaeger too, was a victim of held goods by the Customs House having one package withheld from the shipment that had arrived aboard the S.S. China on Jan. 4, 1899.
The S.S. Kinau was part of the Wilders S.S. (steam ship) Co. fleet of mail ships that made a constant and revolving circuit around the island chain at the turn of the century, delivering goods and mail. 

The preceding trade card announced to the inhabitants of the big island, that their orders from Hoffschlaeger & Co. would soon be filled.

Since the firm does indeed date to the tail end of the applied top era, there could quite possibly be a globby floating around somewhere. At this time though, all are neatly made with tooled tops in shades of amber. Most are quite light, although I've seen one that approaches espresso in color. Like Lovejoy and Peacock, the firm prospered until being killed off by prohibition.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cock o' the Walk

My wife has chickens; seven to be exact. Filthy, dumb, chickens. I suppose that's why they're called fowl~ But they're laying hens and, as such, they keep us supplied with farm fresh brown eggs in exchange for feed, water and a roof over their heads. A fair trade I suppose...

The folks down the road a ways have both hens and roosters. I drew the line with the roosters. Not only are the filthy and dumb, but they're ornery and noisy to boot; and they don't lay eggs. We had one once for a while. A very short while. After a week or so of tearing up the hens and making a ruckus in general, Wiley, the local coyote, had chicken dinner. And that was that.

So why on earth would not one, but three, San Francisco whiskey dealers feature a rooster on their bottles. Beats me~ I guess because some think that they're purty. I suppose you could argue that on a bottle they are, but given the choice of a chicken or an eagle, the decision is obvious. Still, sometime around 1900, M. Rothenburg and Co. introduced it's Game Cock brand. Two virtually identical variants of an amber picture cylinder, an ornate shot glass, a clear flask, and a recently discovered clear picture square fifth exist. The amber toolie pictured has a PCGW base mark.

Information on M. Rothenburg is sorely lacking in both Thomas and Wilson's books so off to the digital archive vault I marched. Mendle Rothenburg was residing at 2714 Pine St.
and was maintaining a retail liquor outlet at 423 Kearny St. in 1900. Things remained status quo until April 18, 1906. He resurfaced in 1907 at 2714 Pine St. as a wholesale liquor dealer. Oddly, there is no mention of Mendle's Game Cock brand in either the newspapers or in the Crocker Langley directory's of that era. The 1911 directory is the last one that either Mendle or M. Rothernburg & Co. appear. The 1912 directory simply states, Rothernburg, Fanny, widow, 2714 Pine St. So, once again, it would appear that Bob Barnett was spot on with the dating.

Enter rooster number two. This time the bird is sporting his feathers on a crude, early tooled Crown Distilleries cylinder and advertises Kentucky Lily brand whiskey that was bottled expressly for family and medicinal use.

It appears to date to roughly the same era as the Rothernburg, although it lacks the Pure Food and Drug act info, so pre-dates 1906. Thinking that there must have been some famous chicken of the era named Kentucky Lily, I went searching. Nope, chickens weren't like race horses named "Gold Dust", and I came up blank.

The last example is, in my opinion, the fanciest of the bunch. Multi colored litho at it's finest, M. Newman had a mind blowing label printed for his Bohemian Club Whiskey Cocktail (a cordial).

Turns out that there was a Bohemian Club in "The City". Established in 1872, it initially attracted journalists, artists and musicians. In fact, Bret Harte described San Francisco as a sort of Bohemia of the West. The Bohemian Club was first located on Sacramento St., a block below Kearny. It was still going strong after the turn of the century, when this brand appeared on the market. Coincidentally, or not, this location was just around the corner from M. Rothenburgs retail store address...

M. Newman shows up in the same directories as Rothenburg and Crown Distilleries, and can be positively dated to the same era as the previous two brands.

Roosters on the label; coincidence? And then the light went on. These weren't your garden variety fowl; they were the kind of rooster that the sporting man bet on. Cock fighting, like horse racing, was almost a mania back then and a Game Cock on the label was a great way to make sure that your brand of whiskey had a fighting chance.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

And the mists of time cleared

A few days ago Warren Watson seemed to be a mysterious individual who left little record of his life.

Subsequent searching by one of our readers came up with a couple of interesting snippets, courtesy of the Crocker Langley directories;


Hooyah! Shortly thereafter, in came a picture of the seed that was rumored to exist!

It was a start, a darned good start~ Still, there had to be more to the story and I was left scratching my head.

This changed abruptly when I received an email from one of his descendants. The information provided sheds considerable light on the man and his life.

"Warren Mortimer Watson"

Warren Mortimer Watson was born August 24, 1845, in Rochester, Monroe Co., NY, and died May 6, 1913, in Alameda Co., CA, at age 67. He is the son of William Watson of Ireland and Abigail Harrington of New York. Buried in Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, Alameda County, CA. The following names are on the same cemetery marker: Warren M. Watson: 1845 - 1913; Emma Pearl Watson: 1851 - 1880; John W. Watson: 12/3/1825 - 3/16/1896; Emily M. Watson: 1845 - 1974.

Warren M. Watson and Emma Pearl Howe were married January 5, 1869, in California. They had no children. Emma died February 29, 1880, in Brooklyn Twp., City of Oakland, Alameda Co., CA, at age 29.

After Emma died, Warren M. Watson married Margaret Elizabeth "Maggie" Watson in 1881 in Oakland, Alameda Co., CA.. "Maggie" was born November 17, 1862, on Bear River near Marysville, Yuba Co., CA. They too, had no children.

The 1880 U. S. Census taken on June 11, 1880, shows Warren Watson (age 33) born in New York to English and New York-born parents is a Cigar Maker and is living at 716 9th Street, City of Oakland, Alameda Co., CA. Living with him but with a line through the name is his wife, Emma Watson (age 30) born in Massachusetts to Massachusetts-born parents, who is Keeping House, with a note saying died Feb. Also living there: his widowed mother-in-law: Orvilla How (age 59) born in Massachusetts to Massachusetts-born parents; and Maggie Watson (age 17) born in California to Missouri and Kentucky-born parents, an unmarried Servant.


The San Francisco Call of April 22, 1900 stated;


OAKLAND. April 21. - W. M. Watson, who has been the head of the W. M. Watson Company, one of the largest wholesale liquor firms in Oakland, has turned his company into a stock concern, and left this week for the Paris Exposition and a trip around the world, accompanied by his wife. Mr. Watson has disposed of his business to a number of his employes and his nephew. Those who now control the company are: C. T. Lemmon, Mr. Watson's nephew; J. J. Carroll of the Louvre. T. W. Sigourney, who has been the head of the store for many years; L. S. Farr, who has been the head bookkeeper, and P. O'Kane, the chief outside man of the company. Mr. Watson retains only a small Interest. W. M. Watson has 'always been one of the leaders in Oakland business circles and has been at the head and front of all moves for the benefit of the city. He will be gone abroad for more than a year.


The Oakland Tribune, Oakland, CA, Friday Evening, September 22, 1905 stated;


Warren Watson, the well-known wine man of this city, is to make another tour of the world. This will be the fourth time that he will have circled the globe. He will be accompanied by his wife. The passports, signed by Elihu Root, arrived today. Mr. and Mrs. Watson shall sail from San Francisco on the 27th of this month on the steamer Manchuria. They will visit points of interest which have heretofore not received their attention while abroad, and expect to have, as fellow passengers, Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Bryan and family.


The Oakland Tribune, Oakland, CA, Saturday Evening, September 23, 1905 noted;



Warren W. Watson, who was, for so many years, in the wine trade in this city but who has retired from business, and who now spends his winters in San Francisco and his summers at his country home near Pleasanton, in this county, received his commission today from Governor Pardee as a member of the Board of Commissioners to manage the Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Big Tree Grove. The appointment has been made to fill the vacancy occasioned on the Board by the death of the late Hon. W. W. Foote, of this city. It is a coincidence that John H. O'Brien, formerly Mr. Watson's partner in business, held the position to which the latter has been appointed, for fourteen years. Mr. Watson is pleased with his official position, more especially because his preferment takes place on the eve of his departure with his wife on his fourth trip around the world.

Warren Mortimer Watson in 1906 is listed as a Royal Arch Mason in the Alcatraz Chapter No. 8a, Oakland, Alameda Co., CA.

Warren Mortimer Watson on July 1, 1910, is listed as a member of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite List of Members in California.The 1910 U. S. Census taken on April 15, 1910, shows Warren M. Watson (age 64) born in New York to Irish and New York-born parents and in his first marriage is a Retired Capitalist who owns his own home free of a mortgage and is living at 1314 8th Avenue, 7th Ward, Brooklyn Twp., City of Oakland, Alameda Co., CA. Living with him is his childless wife of 29 years, Margaret E. Watson (age 48) born in California to Kentucky and Missouri-born parents and in her first marriage.

And lastly; Warren Mortimer Watson died May 6, 1913, in Alameda Co., CA, at age 67.

A special thanks to Jason P. and Leigh L. for their help in bringing Mr. Watson out of the mist~

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Warren Watson

The name rolls off the tongue easily. Actually, his full name was Warren M. Watson. He was a resident of Oakland California and was in the wholesale liquor business. The firm proper dates ca. 1880 - 1915; quite a span of time compared to many. We have him to thank for five different western tooled top whiskies (and one glop top). His brands included "Kentucky Club", "Belle of Lancaster", "Black Crest", "Warren", and "Warren's OK". Based on the number of years he was in business, and the sheer volume of whiskey sold, researching and documenting his history should have been a no brainer. Not...

According to Wilson in Spirits Bottles of the Old West, W. M. Watson was primarily a dealer in brandy and fine wines, started his business in 1880 and continued until 1915, presumably closing the doors due to the looming prospect of prohibition. Wilson documented one bottle embossed Kentucky Club Old Bourbon from 1896 - 1905 in clear (not stating whether tooled or applied), plus a square squat with swirled shoulders in amber ca. 1907 - 1915, an amber round fifth with swirled shoulders ca. 1898 - 1905 (never seen one and doubt it exists) plus an amber round fifth also ca. 1898 - 1905. Where Bill came up with some of this stuff escapes me...

Bob Barnett listed #816 " Kentucky Club Old Bourbon" in clear with both tooled and applied tops, cork closure, ca. 1892 - 1905; #817 "W. M. Watson Co. / logo / Oakland, Ca." amber square tooled cork closure / squat with swirled shoulders ca. 1906 - 1914; #818 "W. M. Watson Co. Inc. / logo / Oakland, Ca." amber tooled bulge neck qt. cylinder / brandy top cork closure/ ca. 1900 - 1905; #819 "W. M. Watson Co. / logo / Oakland, Ca." amber square tooled bulge neck qt. cylinder / brandy top / ca. 1900 - 1908; and #820 "W. M. Watson Co. / logo / Oakland, Ca." amber tooled fifth cylinder / whiskey top cork & IT closure/ ca. 1900 - 1908.

OK, let's sort a couple of things out. The Kentucky Club is probably dated correctly and falls into the German Connection glop top time line nicely. Common sense says that the three variants that are embossed minus the "Inc." would be earlier so I'd plug them in ca. 1900 - 1905 +/-. The last in the lineup would logically be the variant embossed "Inc.".

The Kentucky Club Old Bourbon bottles are extremely scarce, with the glop tops being encountered in a ratio of probably 15 - 1 compared to the toolies (not that there's many of either). Let's face it, The tool tops are just plain rare with fewer than a half dozen known to exist!

And they will turn amethyst, which for us old time purists who still like honest sun colored glass, is a big plus.

Next in scarcity and desirability is the square swirled shoulder.

The shape is distinctive and attractive.

The cylinder fifth is also scarce, and ones with the correct Riley inside thread picture stopper for Black Crest Whiskey are an especially tough score.

The bulge necks are seen slightly more often but are still no slouch in the tool top world.

He also had three etched pre-pro shot glasses produced; one each for Warrens / Whiskies, Warren's Rye and Bourbon, and one for Warren's O.K. / Bourbon W. M. Watson Co. / Oakland Cal. All are scarce.

A note in the 1899 Oakland Social Register reads, "WATSON, Mr. and Mrs. W. M.; 658 Ninth. (Tel. Red 2351.). Thursday." Located in plot 13 of the Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland is a simple head stone engraved Warren M. Watson 1845 - 1913. And here's where our plot thickens and the trail goes cold. These two references are the only hard documentation I could find that Warren M. Watson ever existed; no date of birth or death, no birthplace, no business address, no occupation; no nothing! Nothing more in Oakland, nothing in Brooklyn, nothing in Alameda, nothing in Emeryville, nothing across the Bay in San Francisco; simply nothing! Accessing archives of business directories, phone books, and newspaper classified ads invariably pays off with "the rest of the story". Not in this case though.

The bottles remain as mute testimony to Warren M. Watson, but everything else remains shrouded in the mists of time. Talk about disappearing without a trace.

A special thianks to Ken S. for the shot glass photos!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Canyonville 2010 - Epilogue

This was our 8th year at the Seven Feathers facility. Nervous; (maybe, as the economy appeared to be a formidable hurdle). October 15th and 16th; The Jefferson State Antique Bottle & Insulator Show in Canyonville, Oregon.

Approaching, slowly in the distance. Gathering speed as it neared. Closer. Faster. Blasting, billowing, bursting forth, with the power of ten billion butterfly sneezes (Ok; I stole that line from the Moody Blues).

And then..... it's here. Spare the details, savor the moment. That's the attitude I opted for. No hill for a climber~

The show opens to one and all at twelve noon sharp. But, the dealers rolled in early; nine am and change. Can't blame 'em. Fortunately, to everyone's delight, the tables are arranged, linens are in place, and table drapes installed. A fancy setup! But what gives? Is this a wedding reception or a just good ol' fashioned Antique Bottle & Insulator Show?

Now that you asked, it's a little of both. 'Cause Antique Glass is just that, regardless of the form! And, as such, this annual get together is simply a marriage of two hobbies.

And so, dealers stuffed their wares under the tables, and "early birds" swapped stories (and lies) with the rest of the gang while waiting for the magic hour.

The long and short of the show? We had to turn away last minute dealers. A sellout.

Early admission was up; way up, over prior years. Rather than elaborate on first day sales I'll suffice to quote one dealer and say "way better than I hoped for". Most all reflected the same.

True, a lot of first day sales are dealer to dealer; but early admission also accounted for a lot of out of state collectors and a pretty hefty chunk of purchases as well.

Saturday is normally a different story; with an excitement level akin to watching paint dry.Not this year, as the advertising blitz that Scott had undertaken obviously paid off in spades! Locals, locals, and more locals continually streamed in the door from surrounding towns and burgs. And they brought in stuff, lots of stuff, to have appraised and to auction off. Dale and Jeff were kept a hoppin' appraising and bundling offerings for silent auction. Collectors and dealers alike were treated to an endless array of bottles insulators and go withs to bid on and the auction table was jammed until we just plain ran out of time.

Then there were the displays! Lots of displays. Categories ranged from the open entry Pacific Coast Jewels (top west coast bottles), to "Is It Teal" (insulator open category comparing colors), to veterinary pharmaceuticals of the 19th century. Also appearing were EC&M / Cal Electric insulators, threadless "battered beauty" insulators, a regional Jackson County display, and, not to be left out, west coast picture whiskies. We jokingly commented that the value of glass in this years displays no doubt approached what the Seven Feathers facility had in their vault. Talk about high end glass!

Ah, the age old question; "What sold"? Simply, everything. It didn't seem to matter where your table was located, or what you had on it, "stuff" just flat sold. Unlike a lot of shows, this years theme was "no crystal ball required" when it came to exchanging glass for cash~ My kinda show!

And there was the weather... We couldn't have asked for a better fall weekend. Cool and overcast early on, breaking to bright sun and crisp blue skies around noon. And the fall colors were at their peak!

The weather reflected the attitude of the dealers, bright and cheerful. Everyone in attendance seemed to have a great time. The facilities, including the convention center, hotel and grounds are all top notch. The show was very well attended, with the selection, variety and quality of glass superb. A personal thanks to all the dealers and collectors that made the trip. And especially to all who pitched in and helped make this the popular venue what it's grown to be. Great facilities, great people, strong sales and a steady stream of folks in the doors for two days straight. Yep; the Canyonville Show at Seven Feathers Resort, where you can expect the best~

See you all next year.

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