Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Liquid Food - in a bottle

Jim Croce wrote "time in a bottle" in December 1970. The song, and Jim, both became instant hits. He was one of my favorites back in the day.

Sadly, by the end of 1973, Jim Croce was gone. A short, but brilliant, career in the spotlight.
As so often happens, I'm called on to help locate this bottle or that by fellow collectors. Recently, I was asked to help fill a spot on someones wish list. He was after a bottle to replace one (well actually several) that he'd lost in the recent Napa Earthquake. Most of the pieces that he needed were comparatively easy to locate and obtain.

But one proved to be as elusive as a pair of lips on a chicken. I'd sold one example many years ago, but the collector, who still had the bottle, wasn't interested in letting it go. I turned on my radar, but came up blank. I touched base with any and everyone that I thought could help. Nada.

The bottle is a big gutsy amber quart cylinder with a Riley Patent inside thread closure and full face embossing. The embossing reads "Big / Seven / 7 / The / Whiskey that Sells / Liquid / Food". Liquid Food, in a bottle. Wow, that's some kinda diet! Just imagine a seven course meal of that stuff~
I recall seeing this bottle for the first time in John Howe's collection when I made the pilgrimage to his place with Dale Hoyt and Dave McLeod in the sixties. John was mighty proud of it and called it extremely rare.
Bill Wilson and Bob Barnett also documented the existence of this bottle; Wilson's example shown on page 32, was different than John's though. It still had the neck foil, but no stopper. Bill listed it as very scarce.

But, was it really western? No name, no city, no base mark; just Big Seven... Labels are a wealth of info but alas, no bill heads or labels were known to exist. Johns bottle had an ebonite stopper in the inside thread closure, but it was plain. No help there.

Bob dated the bottle from 1908 only; as did Bill Wilson. But a tour through the directories of both 1907 and 1908 came up blank. Ditto for the Pacific Wine and Spirits Review. No mention whatsoever about Big Seven & or Liquid Food.

I had no success in finding an example to acquire for several weeks. Finally, I located one. The seller was mighty proud of the bottle, as so they should be, (best I can tell there's comparatively very few in collections). But no, not for sale. A trade was in order. When the dust settled, he had a number of better tool tops, and I had the Big Seven. It's an outstanding example with a number of huge bubbles and a notably crisp and bold strike.
It also has a hard rubber stopper; with a star pattern... No help there. Western? Mid western? Eastern? The jury was still out.

A few days ago, lightning struck again. I got an email from a friend of a friend, who had inherited an elderly relatives collection. Yep, there was a Big Seven in the collection. Yep, he'd sell it! Nope, no label; but it did have this metallic stuff on the top! Strange coincidence? I thought not. The lost Wilson example?

Well look what the cat drug in I thought, as I unwrapped it. There, boldly stamped into the lead foil neck seal was the name of the company! Yep, San Francisco indeed. The Rosenblatt Co. / San Francisco Cal. Mystery Solved!

 1908? 1900? We may never know. But like Jim Croce, it too, had a short run.
Here's to you Jim.


Anonymous said...

Great article Bruce ! I've always wondered everytime I see one or a broken one,,,, who was responsible for the Big 7 bottle. Had a feeling they were Western, as I've dug a few broken ones over the yrs here in Ca.

Unknown said...

I just recently bought the Big7 off eBay that you located with the large bubble in the left center. Love it! I wonder how many are actually left known to exist?

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