Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Awww John - Not Again!?

Recently there's been quite a bit of discussion on the WBN site surrounding the (correction - thanks Charles!) SANS-serif "R". You know, the "R" embossed on many western bottles with the funny crooked right leg.

Someone  posed the question about just how late the "R" had remained in common usage. In other words; what is the newest bottle we could think of that has the distinctive R. I got to looking at the shelves here, and came up with a side by side comparison of old molds vs. new: Choice Old Cabinet Ky Bourbon. Yep, there were two distinctively different molds used by Crane Hastings & Co. to bottle their flagship brand. One is the older mold with the typical 
Play dough style embossing and the glop top. 


The other is a very crisp and distinctive new mold that is  obviously later and only comes with a tooled top.

John Thomas stated that the firm of Crane Hastings & Co. was an offspring of Giles, Hayes & Co., which dated back to 1867. He went on to state that Byron G. Crane, and Everett L Hastings were silent partners in this firm. He goes on to add that sometime "prior to 1874, the Giles, Hayes Co. became known as Crane Hastings & Co." He further added that "Everett L. Hastings terminated his association with the firm sometime in the 1880's".

I was curious to try to determine with some certainty, the  years that each of the Choice Old Cabinet Ky Bourbon mold were used, and so set about documenting what I could about Crane Hastings & Co. through business directory listings and newspaper articles and or advertisements. What I found was a real eye opener.

Repeat after me; Awww John - Not Again!?

That's right; the history of Crane, Hastings & Co. as printed in JT's books turned out to be just another myth that's been perpetuated for decades because "John said so in his book"...

He got snippets correct, but about half of what was espoused turned out to be way off once the research was completed. Here's the real story.


The first direct reference that I found for the partnership of Crane and Hastings was in the 1874 S.F. Business Directory. It lists Byron Crane involved with a firm by the name of Hayes Hastings & Co.. 

This supported Thomas contention that both Crane and Hastings had been involved together in a prior liquor wholesaling firm. However, there is no record of a Giles, Hays & Co. in any of the directories.

The year 1875 ushers in the appearance of Crane, Hastings & Co. and the disappearance of Hayes, Hastings & Co. from the directories. 

One 1876 directory mirrors 1875.
Yet another discrepancy pops up though - 608 Montgomery vs. 608-612 Front Street as the business address.

But wait! A second listing in a competing S.F. directory shows Mrs. Everett L Hastings as being co-owner with Crane, and no reference to Everett, but at the Front St. address. 

Had Hastings skipped town or died? This article,from December 24, 1875 confirmed my suspicions. DOA.


A subsequent newspaper article, dated April 5, 1876, popped up reporting the sole acquisition of the firm by Crane because no one else was interested in said business.


So what had become of Everett L Hastings? It took some back tracking and digging, but I was finally rewarded with the rest of the story. And, would you believe that the Pacific Mail and Steamship Company of Hotaling / PMSS whiskey fame was interwoven into the plot?!


The PMSS "Pacific" was a  side-wheel steamer built in 1851. 

It was still considered seaworthy in 1875, despite having been owned by a succession of different companies. On November 4, 1875, she boarded passengers and freight in Victoria BC - Canada for the regular run to San Francisco in the climate of an unregulated and highly competitive market where passage was often offered free just to hurt the competing shipping line's business (the regular Victoria-San Francisco fare was $5 - about $200 in modern currency). Loaded to the gunwales and listing badly, efforts to right the ship included filling lifeboats with water to bring her to trim, and then doing the same with the lifeboats on the other side to re-compensate when the vessel began to list too heavily in the opposite direction. No lifeboat drills were held, and at a subsequent inquest it was revealed that even if the lifeboats had been available for use, only 145 passengers could have been saved, with at least another 155 left on board to go down with the ship (the official estimate of the number of passengers was 275, but as children paid no fare the death toll is believed to have been much higher). One of the passengers was none other than Everett L Hastings.

Around 8 p.m. on the evening of November 4, the Pacific hit the SS Orpheus, although both vessels continued on their course and the captain of the Orpheus later testified he was unaware of the collision. With only a few PMSS Pacific lifeboats usable, some crew joined the women who had managed to get into one, in one case going so far as to throw out the husband of one woman despite her pleas to let her husband stay. None of the lifeboat parties survived, and went down soon after many of the 300-odd people struggling in the icy cold water drowned. The women drowned first because of the voluminous skirts then in fashion. An estimated 20 survived the sinking and managed to survive for a while by clinging to large pieces of wreckage. All but two of these eventually succumbed to hypothermia, as did one of the remaining pair, leaving Henry Jelley as only one of two survivors. Everett L Hastings was not one of the two.

A newspaper article of the sinking simply stated; "The steamship Pacific went to sea yesterday morning, from Esquimalt, at 9 o'clock. She had on board nearly 200 miners and others as passengers from this place, and 120 United States soldiers from the Sound [Puget Sound]. Wells, Fargo and Co. shipped 205,998 dollars in gold dust. The total shipment, including the amounts in private hands, will reach 400,000 dollars." 

It seems that the "importance" of the loss of gold outweighed the loss of life.

Another news article in the Daily Alta California shortly thereafter reported the recovery of the body of Everett L Hastings. An official announcement appeared in the Daily Alta California several days later.

The Choice Old Cabinet Ky Bourbon brand was registered with the State of California on March 13, 1885, although it was most probably in use for many years prior to the firm shouldering the expense for a Trade Mark.

Subsequent to the acquisition of the firm by Byron Crane, it was pretty much business as usual, although the firm both relocated and added a second location in the 90's. 

This would, no doubt, coincide with the new tooled top mold being commissioned. 

Byron handed the reigns over to his son Arthur H. Crane, in 1892.

Sometime during the year 1895, with Arthur still at the helm, the company sold and shut their doors.

Thomas states that the firm was purchased by a C.W. Craig. I did locate a listing for a CW Craig / Commission Merchant, located at the 316 Sacramento St. address (same as the last storefront of Crane, Hastings & Co.) in the "white pages". The business listings in the back of the S.F. Directory support Thomas's  claim that Craig was successor to Crane, Hastings & Co.. Campbell W. Craig is listed under Liquors / Importers and Wholesale in the yellow pages section of the directory. However, no references exist indicating that the blood line of Choice Old Cabinet Ky Bourbon continued on after the change of hands; thus ending two decades of merchandising success pushing Choice Old Cabinet Ky Bourbon (with the funny curved leg "R"'s).

PS; Best guess is that the  brand was paper labeled initially in the mid 70's. I'd conjecture that the glop top mold was commissioned after the Trade Mark was registered in the 80's, and the tool top mold replaced the worn out glop top mold (I've had a couple of glop Choices with literally burned out embossing) ca. early 1890's.

As such the latest whiskey with the sans-serif "R"'s that I can date with any degree of certainty is in the ca. 1892-1895 era.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Holiday Cheer

Merry Christmas~

from the

Western Whiskey Gazette

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Now hear this. Coming this Spring - Expo 2017!

In conjunction with the Regional Rogue Valley Antique Show~ 

12,000 square feet of Anything and Everything Antique 

All under one roof.

Mark your calendar!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Roseville - This coming weekend.


NOTE; According to their flyer, the show starts at 9AM on Friday - I thought startup used to be noon. Might me a good idea to call Mike to verify!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Harvest Home

Harvest Home

"The Whiskey Without an Ache or Pain"

 A while back a friend of mine gave this to me as a thank you for cleaning a couple of bottles. It is (or was) silver plate over some sort of base metal. It has a neat form and my first inclination was that it was eastern. I thought it would look good next to the Vapo-Cresolene lamp on the antique oak Victorian mantle surround in my great room. I was right. And it fits nicely with the  two Rayo kerosene lamps that have similar finishes which are located above.

 While dusting the mantle today, I got to looking closer at the pitcher. Obviously, it was meant to advertise the product. What was it intended for? Was it for dispensing whiskey? Or maybe for water, to mix with whiskey? And, was it really eastern? I seemed to recall seeing the engraving pattern on the pitcher somewhere, sometime in the past. But where?

A search online revealed that  "Harvest Home" was sold by Hayner Distilling of Dayton Ohio and "Harvest Home Rye" was sold by S. Altschul Co. of Springfield, OH. OK, so it's eastern. Or was it? The engraving near the base lists an outfit by the name of "Mau, Sadler & Co. / Agents".

Sure enough, a search of the S. F. Cal. Crocker directories, starting in 1888, showed Mau, Sadler & Co. as being wholesale grocers located at 9-15 Beale St.

This was the only advertising that I could locate for the firm. It appeared during the winter of 1889 in the Daily Alta California.

Their listing in the 1889 directory had grown substantially, as had the array of products that they were offering for sale. Things stayed the course through 1894. 

By 1895 they had really hit their stride, had closed the Beale St. location and opened two more; one at 122-124 Market St. and the other at 19-21 California St. Reference to the "fancy goods" disappeared and it looks like they were going for quantity instead of quality. By now, they also had a telephone number listed.

1897 saw their focus change  and they were now claiming to be manufacturers and jobbers of cigars, coffee, tea and food products.

By 1899 their listing in the directory had shrunk drastically, and the California Street location disappeared. 

The last reference to Mau, Sadler & Co, was in the 1901 directory, in the smallest of type, and in less than a single line, they were listed simply as "whol. grocers" at 122 Market.

By 1902, they were gone for good.

After coming up with the west coast connection, I recalled where I'd seen the pattern. It was on an incredibly rare rubber stenciled / black print advertising shot glass in the Schwartz collection. Sure enough, the photo was on my external backup drive.

Odd... in all of the listings and newspaper articles that appeared from 1888 through 1901, not once do they advertise the fact that they were retailing whiskey. 

And yet, thanks to a shot glass and an oddball pitcher, we can document yet another obscure "western" whiskey.

My guess is that both the pitcher and the shot date to ca. early to mid 1890's.
Anyone out there have an embossed Harvest Home / Mau, Sadler & Co. cylinder or flask??????

Thanks for Robin P. for the photo of Kens shot glass.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

JR's "For Sale" List

Heh all;

Just got my old pal John Ronald's for sale list. He's got a couple of seldom seen Cutters available. They sound like they're top shelf.

Cutter, O.K., Whisky (in circle), J.H. Cutter, Old, Bourbon, Trade “Crown”
(in slug plate), Marks, J.H.C. on barrel, C. P. Moorman, Manufacturer,
Louisville, KY / A.P. Hotalings O.K., Cutter Whisky (back), B237, 11 7/8"
light amber cylinder fifth, applied long tapered lip with ring, mint.
 J. H. Cutter, Old, Bourbon, J.H.C. on barrel, (J. H. Cutter, Old, Bourbon,
crown - in circle), Trade, Mark, (J.H. Cutter, Pure, Old Rye, crown - in
circle), C.P. Moorman, Manufacturer, Louisville, KY. / Cutter Whiskey (on
back), B-234, T-37, 11 ½" very light yellow honey amber cylinder fifth,
strong embossing, applied long tapered lip with ring, mint
 J.H.Cutter, Old, Bourbon, “Crown”, E. Martin & Co., Sole Agents, B225, 11
7/8" yellow amber to light amber cylinder, whittled, applied long tapered
lip with ring, (blob top), small open bubble on reverse

I can attest to his honesty and integrity. A really great guy and an asset to the hobby! 

If you're interested, drop him an email.


Monday, October 31, 2016

Braunschweigers Bears

The label shown here was trademarked on September 17, 1884.

It advertises an apparently (based on days of research) non-existent Oak Valley Distilling Co., as well as Braunschweiger's earliest flagship brand, Bear Valley Old Bourbon. It appears that Bear Valley was the first in a long lineup of products, based on the September 1884 trademark date, since he and Bumstead were in the process of "splitting the sheets" at that time. 

Other brands pushed by the firm included "Bear Grass", "California Club", "Extra Pony", "Golden Chief", "Golden Cupid", "Golden Rule", "Golden Rule XXX Sour Mash Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey", "Oak Valley Distilling: Brunswick Extra Pony Pure Bourbon Whiskey", "Old Pioneer", "California Club", and "Silver Wedding."

Bear Grass would replace Bear Valley as their "go to" brand by 1890. By the turn of the century, acid etched advertising glasses were being handed out for three of the brands in an effort to gain market share. These included three different stencils for "California Club", and one each for "Old Pioneer", and "Bear Grass".

 The Bear Grass glass design is very similar to that on the label, with the exception that "Bear Valley" is replaced with "Bear Grass". The glass also states that the company had been incorporated by the time it was produced ("Inc." first appears in the 1895 S.F. Directory), further helping to date it.

We recently had several clear tooled top cylinders dropped by; all of which are pictures. Two of them are Bear Grasses, and I noticed an immediate difference between them when put onto the display shelf. 

The first and most obvious difference is the size and capacity. The one on the left measures 12" in height, where the one on the right is only 11 3/8". The one on the left is 3" in diameter, where the right hand example is 3 1/8". Both are free of base marks, but the left hand bottle has a stepped kick up where the right one has a round dome shaped base. The shoulder step height is notably different as well. Moving on to the embossing things get even more interesting.

The bear on the left closely resembles the design on the label; the right hand bear looks more like an angry wild pig.
The difference in the size and shape of the circular slug plates is immediately evident, as is the absence of "S. F." on the right hand example.

 According to Barnett, in WWB 4th edition, there is a clear (no doubt German Connection) glop top version of the one on the right, (no height listed but without S. F.) but no listing for a clear tool top that will turn amethyst. My records indicate that I've had over a dozen of the S. F.'s, but have only seen one of the shorter ones. 

I'm curious; why the two different embossing patterns? Did Bob make a mistake when he listed the non-S.F. as being a glop top? Why the absence of S. F. on the smaller variant, and which one is older? And how many of the non-S.F. variants are sitting on collectors shelves these days?

Let's here it from you~

A special thank you to the estate of Ken Schwartz and to Robin P for the shot photos.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Missed it by that much!!! (or - just shoot me; well actually my wife)

Now before we begin, let me assure you that what I'm about to relate is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth! Sadly, everything you are about to read is 100% fact.


 A number of years ago, in the summer of 1999, we attended the Reno Bottle Show. Deb (my wife) and I opted to “rough it” that year and towed our travel trailer, staying at the Nevada State park adjacent to the Bowers mansion west of the site of Washoe City, about half way in between Reno and Carson. Had a blast at the show and looked forward to camping and exploring over the next few days after the show. During the course of conversation with old pal Loren Love of Dayton, he recounted how urban sprawl was affecting even the Nevada dessert with subdivisions beginning to spread out from Carson towards Dayton. He lamented how even the old site of Sutro was slated for development and how a subdivision had recently been completed nearby. The building had pushed nearly to the western edge of the old townsite and the balance of the site was slated for plat approval the next year.

 We had a few archival photographs to work with and realized that this would be our last chance to dig there before the D8’s and belly dumps arrived, and the site was lost forever.


 As everyone knows, Sutro had been hit hard (real hard) since the late 50’s and the odds against scoring were stacked against us. Still we had the photos and although I’ve never been particularly lucky compared to some, have been rewarded over the years for my combination of optimism, gut instinct, brute force and perseverance. With the aid of the photos and the accompanying terrain, we located where we surmised the main drag had been. Keep in mind that a century of flash flooding, winter snows and blowing wind can make dramatic changes in the dessert floor. Still, it wasn’t long before we were into glass; and lots of it. We had quite obviously, lucked upon a large dumpsite covered by a foot or better of sandy dirt. It also became obvious that the Hostetters Bitters rep. had done a land office business back in the 1870’s. Every conceivable color was present. Lemon yellow to grass green – pucey amber to nearly black; you name it we dug it. Dozens and dozens of crude, early amazing Hostetters were dug; all broken. Also plentiful were glop top cylinders. Well at least broken ones.

Fearing for our liberty, we were also looking over our shoulders and in the air for any evidence that we’d been spotted since we were technically breaking the law, even back then. Never mind about the ethical dilemma of losing history for good thanks to progress; the threat of arrest, fines and jail time were an ever present thought. A couple of hours into the dig, the fear of arrest really began to sink in and my wife insisted that it was time to get out of Dodge. 

It was then that I dug an intact top, neck and shoulder with embossing that seemed vaguely familiar.  And yet, I couldn’t place it. I trotted over to the truck and tossed the chunk into the pouch in back of the front seat just in case we had to make a beeline out of there.

Prophesy fulfilled, we saw a tell tale plume of dust racing toward us along a jeep road that skirted the base of the hill. Enough was enough. We scurried back to our truck, hopped in and sped off in the opposite direction.

Safely back at our campsite, I stared intently at the broken bottle. I knew this one, I’d seen it somewhere before, or had I? I thumbed through Bob Barnett’s 4th edition but nothing jumped out at me. Out came Wilsons text, again nothing. In desperation, I pulled out my tattered copy of Thomas’s Whiskey Bottle of the Old West. I looked back at the piece. The top looked western to me, as did the color. The few letters of embossing also pointed to San Francisco, but what the heck was it. It was then that I thumbed to page 31 and looked at the bottle in the bottom right corner; number 98. Oh My God! I was holding apiece of the holy grail! There was no mistaking the location and combination of the few letters on the piece that I was holding.


Meanwhile, my wife was outside the trailer maintaining a diligent vigil for approaching BLM nazi’s. She was convinced that they’d gotten our description and license plate number and that we were done for. Yep, just a matter of time… Her mood deepened and by the next morning it was obvious that this cloud of doom wasn’t going to lift. Shortly after breakfast, we broke camp and headed north. A couple of hours later, we crossed the California border and by nightfall were “safely” back into Oregon, our trip cut short... 

The next day was like any other. Work, stowing away the camping gear, cleaning the inside of the trailer, storing away bottles from the show and putting the books back in the library. It was then that I reopened the Thomas book to page 31. There it was, bottom right. That warm feeling returned as I went in search for the Old Signet piece. My piece of the grail! Hmm. Not in the trailer where I put it, not in the bottle boxes. That warm feeling quickly left me, replaced by a much, much hotter feeling. I asked my wife if she recalled where it was and she meekly replied that she was so sure that we were going to get caught that she’d wrapped it up with the garbage in the trailer and deposited it in the trash can back at the campground. 

Not much was said around here for the next few days… 
So much for history, Eh?
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