Monday, April 26, 2010

Wilmerding and who?

The other day a good friend of mine sold me a bottle that I'd always wanted. With only a couple said to exist, I'd never had the opportunity to acquire one. In fact, I don't recall having even seen one before.

From across the room, (especially with my lousy eyesight) it can easily be mistaken for your basic meat and potatoes Kellogg's. Get a little closer though and it's easy to spot the difference.

Cork top instead of inside thread for one. Plus crude and rude is the order of the day. But wait, there's more! Instead of W. L. Co, "W & Co." is prominent on both the obverse embossing near the base, and on the seal on the reverse shoulder. The embossing is the older rounded style found on the McKennas, but the W & Co. Kellogg's is a two piece mold instead of 4 piece.


How old is this variant really? Mid 1880's transitional tool top, early 1890's toolie, mid 90's? Inquiring minds want to know, so I pulled out the 2002 edition of Whiskey Bottles of the Old West by Thomas. According to John, Wilmerding & Kellogg started up in 1868, becoming Wilmerding & Co. in 1878. Supposedly, the Loewe Brothers took over Wilmerding Kellogg & Co. in 1894, shortly after Wilmerding died. So, at least in theory, the W&Co. Kellogg must date somewhere between 1878 and 1894; right?
The "who" in Wilmerding & Co. is as follows: The Daily Alta February 16, 1880 edition classified / public notice section states that the firm of Wilmerding & Co dates from December 29, 1879 and was doing business at 214 - 216 Front St. at the time. The principals were J. Clute Wilmerding and John Tuthill Haviland. The co-partnership documents had been filed and notarized on January 17, 1880. Another reference that I came across for the firm was on April 16, 1888; again re-acknowledging the partnership. A listing of a deck of Wilmerding & Co. playing cards in an abandoned freight manifest appears in the classified ads in 1890. In 1894, on December 10th, Wilmerding & Co. transferred the rights to both their SHM and C. W. Stuart brands to Loewe Brothers, thus proving that the partnership change had not yet taken place.
However, it was probably a precursor to the merger, since the emergence of Wilmerding - Loewe Co. occurred in 1895.
In a nutshell, W & Co. began life in January of 1880 with only two principals, minus Mr. Kellogg, and terminated with the merger or takeover from the Loewe Bros. in 1895. Still a pretty big window but at least we can positively date this variant within a fifteen year period. So, kudo's to JT for pretty much hitting the nail on the head as far as dating. But the big question is, did this bottle once bear a paper label for SHM Superior Old Bourbon or perhaps C. W. Stuarts Extra Kentucky Whiskey?


Kentucky Gem said...

See more regarding W&Co. @

Mike Dolcini said...

Great score, GB, on an exceedingly scarce and highly desirable Kellogg's variant. I'm happy to finally see one posted.

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