Thursday, March 14, 2013


"There's no place like home".
Well said Dorothy!
I just returned from a week in the Bay Area. What a rat race. This ol' country boy just isn't meant for the big city. Nice place to visit (maybe for a day or two).
A week down there reminds me of how lucky I am to live elsewhere.
But, I did score a few pretty decent whiskies down there in the process. Go figure...
One of them is an example that I've never had before. Actually, I don't recall even seeing one. It's a catchy little number. "Exposition Brand" to be precise.

Super light orange amber bordering on yellowish at the shoulder. Tooled corker, somewhat crude. Wilson didn't list it. Thomas; well let's just say that it was beneath John's dignity to list anything this rare if it didn't have a glop top. Barnett's 4th edition has it on page 112/113 as #513. One of the things that Bob found interesting, as did I, was the capacity of 23 Oz. Why, I haven't a clue. Bob listed a ca. on the bottle of 1913 - 1914. I thought that ca. was too late, but low and behold, Bob was darned close.
After a couple of hours of snooping, I found the proprietors P. Lombardi and O. Riccomini listed in the 1915 Crocker Directory. They were labeled as wholesale and retail liquor dealers. Once I had the year, things began to make sense in terms of the brand name.

San Francisco had been devastated by the 1906 Great Earthquake and Fire. In an effort to prove to the world that the Phoenix had risen from the ashes, and to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal, the founding fathers held the Pan Pacific International Exposition. It played host to Eighteen Million visitors at the 635 acre site between February and December 1915.

In 1915, Lombardi and Riccomini were located at 1706 Stockton St. a couple doors down from the corner Filbert, and not far from the famed Stockton Tunnel.

Here's what the buiding looks like today. All gussied up, but listed as unsafe on the City of S.F.'s inventory of seismically threatened structures.
This address was preceded by occupancies first at 627 Vallejo in 1912, and 637 Vallejo in 1913 & 1914 (possibly just an address typo in the directory, which was common).
A quick check of the 1915 S. F. street maps shows that the Stockton St. location was conveniently located on a major thoroughfare, directly adjacent to Columbus St., which was a straight shot to the Exposition located just a few blocks away.
They appear last in the S. F. business directory of 1916. And so from riches to rags in four short years. A veritable flash in the pan. Looks to me like they put all of their eggs in one basket and the gamble failed to pay. The Exposition brand name was a natural. Too bad it flopped. Bad whiskey? Too much dependency on a one shot draw? Or; maybe whiskey drinkers just weren't yet ready for downsized packaging in the form of 23 ounce bottles; (reduced from the normal "fifth" or 1 pint 9 ounce size).
Whatever the case, we have them to thank for one of the rarest tool tops around.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pietro Lombardi was my great-grandfather. The business was primarily wine sales, I wasn't aware of the attempt to market an exposition whiskey. They were still going after the whiskey business stopped, but didn't make it much longer. The family story is that at the onset of prohibition they tried to make the switch to grape-juice sales, but the California market for grape juice was understandably saturated. They shut down for good in mid-1920 I think.

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