Monday, October 15, 2012

One of life's mystery's

Ebay never ceases to amaze me with the sheer volume of "stuff" that comes to the auction block. Most of it is pretty ho-hum. The quantity of "rare" and or "one of a kind" ten dollar tool top whiskeys listed for $100~ boggles the mind. And yet, once in a blue moon a real rarity appears. I spotted just such a thing this morning while perusing the latest and greatest listings over morning coffee.

Listed by a seller named "badgerlaunch"; it's actually not a bottle that caught my eye, but a cast iron (or brass or bronze) advertising go-with. It is the first of these I recall seeing or even hearing of! At first glance I thought, how cool; Wolters Bros. was running a scam on Spruance Stanley & Co. by using their horse shoe logo on a saloon giveaway. But a second glance at the picture caused me to do a double take. WoTTers Bros / not Wolters. Huh?


That's when the piece really caught my interest. I've never seen any reference to Wolters Bros. without being listed as "Wholesale" liquors; not "liquor dealers". Not on a bottle, not on a shot glass and not on a billhead. And then the abbreviation for California is cast on the pieces as "Cala"; not "Cal.".

A quick stroll through the S.F. historical newspaper archives shows no recorded entity by the name of Wotters Bros. from 1870 - 1900. Same goes for the city business directories. Ok, so let's assume that it was a typo. Why stop there when you can have a two-fer and really fowl up the order; hence the term "liquor dealers" instead of wholesale liquors? If I recall, Cala was a little used abbreviation of California during the latter part of the 19th century, especially in the southern part of the state. But why go to the bother of adding an extra vowel when you could just as easily cast the letters Ca. or Cal.?

This piece has all the ear markings of being the real deal, instead of a modern Chinese or Indian fantasy repro (ie; fake) since it appears to be corroded and bears evidence of having some sort of a faux copper plate at one time that has long since eroded due to burial. My guess is that it was indeed an advertising give away commissioned by Wolters Bros. & Co. in the late 1880's or early 90's and it was rejected due to the myriad of mistakes present.

 What's your take fellow collectors?

1 comment:

Mike Dolcini said...

It once held a clock with a cheap paper advertising face that fit within the "horseshoe". I have dug a few from different companies that had the works corroded away and the brass "horseshoe" nicely intact. There are a couple of them laying somewhere out back.

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