Sunday, April 4, 2010

The New Math: Egg + Mole = Oroville?


I know, you're thinking that ol' KG has finally lost what few marbles he had... After all, what could a thunder egg (geode for those in the know) and a mole (subterranean rodent for those in the know) possibly have in common? And, for that matter, what the heck is a map of Oroville doing in the mix on top of that?

Well, it all started a few weeks ago when I got an email from "Bill the Eggman", down in the old southwest. You see, Bill was, for many, many years, one of the legends when it came to western whiskies. He's since strayed a bit and now focuses on thunder eggs (with equal success and stature), but "back in the day" was considered to be one of the most successful western whiskey diggers on the face of the earth. Bill emailed me with photos of a bottle that I'd never heard of. Embossed "The Chapparal / Wholesale / Liquor - Store / J. Greenberg / Oroville, Cal.", it's a fifth with a tooled long tapered collar over single ring in amber with the embossing contained within a circular slug plate.

Bill went on to say;

"Hi, saw your western toolie blog wanting info on unlisted western tool tops.

This one is as rare as they get. I dug this pictured specimen about 10 years ago in Oroville Calif. It was the first known whole example. Before that, shards of two were documented by the Butte County Historical Society booklet. The shards dated back to the 1960's I think.

Several of us dug Oroville for about 25 years, without ever seeing another shard of the Chaparral. Maybe 300 holes. Then I was digging a basement pit in Oroville's "X" and this rolled out amongst a dozen and a half Manhattans also from Oroville. Thankfully, a second Chaparral came out of the same lot maybe 15 feet from the first one. The property owner, my friend "X", kept the second one, I have this first one. That is all there are. No shards from anywhere else in the following 10 years either"

Wow! Another fresh find for the fifth edition; and a matching pair no less!

Shortly before we headed to paradise, another old pal of mine, "Rick the Botlmole" emailed me with the following;

"Hi Bruce, know anything about this Fifth? I can't find anything on it.

Recent street fair find, you can put it on your site if you want."

And then there were three!

It would be fun to look up the location of the proprietor in Oroville on the Sanborn Fire maps in an attempt to see if Bills finds were in close proximity to the location of "The Chapparal". Unfortunately, Sanborn / UMI has scrambled their website and has effectively blocked all access to the California / Oregon maps unless you pay a prohibitively high subscription rate. So much for research...

Still, I'm sure that some of you enterprising folks out there can figure a way to re-access the database. Feel free to forward whatever you come up with in the way of research pay dirt and I'll post it in a follow-up.

'Till then; Many Thanks to Bill the Eggman and Rick the Botlmole for sharing the new find with all of us!

A quick PS. Just received the following email from another avid (and very successful) digger in Butte County. He said;

hi, here is a picture of the only complete mint set of oroville whiskeys. the senate is as rare as the chaparral with only two known complete examples.the chaparral is the second one bill speaks of,and the manhattan was one of six to also come off the property.the chaparral was located right next to the u.s. hotel on montgomery st roughly two blocks from the property they were unearthed from which happened to be a chinese father "x" ownes the property in orovilles china town that produced truck loads of bottles of all types.any way thought you might like the picture for your site...happy easter chris.

ps. me and my digging partner can account for four more broken chaparrals"
Many thanks Chris!


Mike Dolcini said...

A most excellent informational post, KG! I have long been aware of the Chaparral fifth, but it remained nearly "singular" until a few years ago. I saw the nice display at the Chico show, with that bottle in a prominent place.

I'm glad that you heard from "Old Bill", too. We go way back, but haven't spoken for some time. We used to talk so long on the land line that the wives put the timer on us.

Anonymous said...

Is The Manhatten Oroville California a common or hard to find whiskey. Just found one in Washington.

Site Meter