Monday, April 5, 2010

Remodeling the Castle

Got a call the other day from a collector out east of the Washoe. He's been a whiskey collector forever and, unlike most of us, was able to start from the top down. The silver camps of Central Nevada were kind to the early diggers and many of these collectors succeeded in building their collections with a shovel instead of a silver pick (translated; a wallet stuffed full of cash). And, why bother with tooled whiskies when the globbies were laying on the surface waiting to be picked up and lugged home.

Sure, it was neat to be able to assemble a run with the likes of one each of say, a Choice Old Cabinet, J. Moore / Chielovich, Gold Dust, Pride of Kentucky, McKenna, SHM, OPS, Millers Extra, Kentucky Gem and Castle (to name a few), with no out of pocket expense. But the easy pickins dried up years ago and the economic reality of building nothing but a top end collection of rare glop tops has long since sunk in. Fortunately, there's an affordable alternative to the big dogs which have been priced out of most of our budgets; the "go with" tool tops. Most of the outfits that peddled their wares in glob top bottles, survived well into the tool top era and as such, it's easy to pair up both a glop and a toolie with the same brand name embossed on the bottle.

After reminiscing about the good old days, we started talking about what a solid value some of the toolies have remained and the conversation eventually wound around to the F. Chevalier picture Castles. I know, a lot of the gang thumb their nose at them because we still see them with regularity and they can still be had reasonably. But seriously, full face embossing, a picture of a castle and with San Francisco prominently embossed front and center. All that for a paltry amount by comparison, how the heck can you go wrong?

In the course of discussion, the gent mentioned hearing of an oddball example of #144 in the 4th edition of Western Whiskey Bottles. It was listed as; "The F. ChevalierS Co. / ornate picture of Castle / Castle Whiskey / San Francisco, Cal. (this is the tough one with the plural mis-spelling)". Now this critter has always been something of a mystery to me. I've always listed is as "144V" because it's a variant with what we've always assumed was a mis-spelling in the plural of Chevalier.

That was until I absentmindedly sat it down next to the earliest of the picture Castles, #142, in my collection while we were talking.

Boinnnng...! It was at that moment that yet another assumption got shot in the seat of the pants.

That's right, the 144v is actually nothing more than a remodeled 142 mold. Rather than commission a new mold, the mold guys simply added additional embossing to the old mold.
A close side by side comparison confirmed my suspicion. The body of the bottles are indeed one in the same. Sure, the rocks are a bit weaker on the 144 but, that's to be expected as the mold began to wear.

The earliest 142, with the cork closure, is days away from having an applied top.

Based on the ca. 1890 date that it's attributed to, there's a good chance that a globby exists! The couple of examples that I've seen have been crude as can be; miles away from the neatly made appearance of the 143 and 145 - 147 molds.


The next 142, with the inside thread closure and Riley patent ebonite screw top was a new, and slightly different, mold with modifications  employed to allow for the next in the line of closure evolutions. It too, is crude and rude, and appears to date from the onset of the Riley patent application dating to the early to mid 90's.

Slightly later, probably in the late 90's to the TOC, the original #142 cork top mold was modified and the words "The", "F", and "Co" were added to allow continued re-use of the still perfectly good mold. At this time the lip tooling process was modified and the inside thread closure began to be employed on this updated variant. Additional air venting is also evident when examined with a loop.

I guess Fortune Chevalier figured that there was nothing like a minor remodel to breath new life into the old Castle~


This just in~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Seems like new discoveries are popping up like the toadstools in my pasture. Just touched base with another a well know collector who acquired yet another variant of the #142. He'd dug a broken one years ago and stumbled across a mint example recently at a yard sale tucked in amongst a bunch of junkers. Same embossing but a quart in capacity. Obviously, a totally different mold once again! Keep 'em comin' guys!

Thanks Dennis!


paleoman said...

Hello folks, I just signed up for this blog a few weeks ago and have been checking in when able. This topic about the Castle Whiskey toolies is interesting to me, as I have one that has "Whiskey" pinged out. The mold change was very well done, as they removed parts of the lettering and added ridges (slugs?) and if held right, the word whiskey can kind of still be seen in an abstract way. Anyone familiar with this variant? I'm guessing it didn't hold whiskey. It is an inside threaded tool top.

Kentucky Gem said...

Thanks for the info. Please feel free to forward a photograph of the example and I'll post it along with any additional data that I come up with after reviewing the photo.


paleoman said...

Bruce, thank you for the interest in my Castle bottle. Before I take photos and forward them to you, I want you to know that the mold is completely different then the discussion topic. This bottle was blown at PCGW (on the base), so it might push it out of interest or relevance for the variants being discussed. If you would still like photos, I will of course take them and forward to your email address.


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