Tuesday, June 16, 2020



I can't help thinking about the brainless cartoons I watched as a kid back in the late 50's and early 60's when I hear that name. The name conjures up remembrances of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Boris and Natasha, and of course Dudley Do-Right, the dim whittled Canadian Mounty. Dudley had a real circle of friends. They included his faithful horse, named "Horse", and his equally faithful dog, ironically named "Faithful Dog". Cornball kids humor by any stretch these days.

Imagine my surprise when a good (I almost typed faithful) friend and fellow whiskey collector called from Northern Cal. the other day and asked if I'd ever heard of a Dudley. I bit my tongue at first and then replied, "only on cartoons". He said, "No really, a Dudley Brandy". "It's got the guys name on it, is a Ginger Brandy, and is embossed San Francisco too". Realizing that he was serious, my response was no; but send me a picture just the same.

He did. And I'll be darned if the photo wasn't of a bottle I've never heard of, or seen even a busted fragment of, in all the years I've been a western whiskey guy. Amber, applied top, heavy play dough type embossing, and shaped like your basic Abernathy or other SF Ginger Brandy with a short neck and a long body. He wasn't yanking my chain after all~ Wow!  A newly discovered western whiskey. I couldn't wait to start my research on this piece.

It took a couple of days but the fruits of my labor were rewarded. At first blush, the bottle had an ever so  slight resemblance to the German Connection late applied tops of the ca. 1890 era. Closer examination though, dispelled that hunch as the embossing style and the top were wrong. Embossed "Dr. Worth's / White / Ginger Brandy / A.A. Dudley & Co. /  San Francisco", it was loaded with seed bubbles, displayed with notable overall glass character, and just had to date ca. 1895 or earlier.

My first stab was in the 1895 SF Directory for a Dr. Worth. Strike one. Working back ward for ten years saw one swing and a miss after another. Numerous Worth's appeared in the listings, ranging from tailors to brick masons (and everything in between), but no Dr's or anything related to patent medicines or liquor.

Flustered, I took a breather. And then the light came on... What if there was no Dr. Worth? What if the brand was simply another of the brandings of a wholesale liquor dealer trying to cash in on the current fad of pushing a combination of liquor and "good for you" stuff endorsed by a "Dr. So and So" !?

Falling back on a target search dating of 1890, I entered his last name and struck it rich. A.A. Dudley appeared in the Crocker Directory as a dealer in patent Medicines. 

Access to another website revealed that Dudley was exactly as suspected; a hustler. The 1889 listing provides a tidbit of info as it lists his name, in addition to just the initials AA. His full name was Arey A. Dudley.

On October 2, 1889, he'd patented Electro Germicide; hoping to cash in on the, at that time, new aged "science" of  electricity and its impact on health. The product was registered as being sold in two tone handled stoneware gallon jugs. No embossed, or debossed, examples of this product have been found so one can only assume that it was sold in paper label form only. And probably not successfully at that~

Working backward, it was determined that Dudley first appeared in SF in 1889 as a patent medicine peddler. Although his business address was San Francisco, his residence is listed as Oakland. It was not uncommon for those of money to reside in the east bay, and commute to their businesses in "The City" via ferry. Thus, we can conclude that Dudley was at least "comfortable".

An even more significant find about A. A. Dudley also popped up during the search of 1889. He was also in the bitters business! Not just some paper label, flash in the pan product, but in reality, one of the rarest of the rare. He was the wholesale agent for "Dr. Harvey's Blood Bitters"; (and not the Cassin Bros. as has previously been taken as gospel).

1891 was status quo.

The 1892 directory shows a move, and his residence is now shown as 1217 Fell in SF. 

And then, nothing. No personal, no business and no obituary listings. A. A. Dudley was a four year splash in the western cure, bitters and whiskey markets; hawking an electric "cure", a next to one of a kind bitters, and a one of a kind western whiskey. 

What a splash he made!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020


Image may contain: text that says 'FOHBC Reno 2020 National Antique Bottle Convention & Expo CANCELLED RENO 2022'

Please note that the FOHBC board of directors is committed to rescheduling the show in Reno in 2022 at the same venue. Given a host of unknown conditions this goal may not be possible but it is our hope it will come to fruition. 

Monday, March 30, 2020

Urgent Notice Regarding Canyonville 2020!

Urgent Notice



Dear Fellow Collectors and Dealers;

Oregon is behind the nationwide curve of the spread of COVID 19 pandemic. Current projections are that Oregon will get hit, and hit hard, well into late spring or early summer.

Seven Feathers Casino Resort is now closed. A reopening date has not been announced.

Out of concern for the well being of our fellow collectors and dealers, it is with great regret that I must notify you that the 2020 JSABC Show and Sale, scheduled to be held at Seven Feathers in Canyonville, Oregon on June 6th, has been cancelled.

With that said, please accept my sincere apologies. Refunds to all dealers that have pre-paid are being mailed today.  

Best of luck to all. Please stay safe and healthy.



Bruce Silva

Show Chairman


Urgent Notice



Urgent Notice


Monday, March 16, 2020

Urgent Notice from Gary Antone, re the Golden Gate Show - Followup 3/17


Howdy Bruce,
In conversation with the Contra Costa Event Park ( Antioch ) today, the GGHBS club's show has been canceled until next year. Can you post this information on your website ? The club and I would appreciate it. Not good, but it's understandable. Also FYI, Morro Bay show has been canceled also.

Take Care & Thanks My Friend,




Hello GGHBS Club Members

I hope this note finds you all doing well – keeping safe and sane during this crazy and uncertain time we are in due to the Coronavirus.
Unfortunately, I need to advise that our 2020 GGHBS Show on 4/10 and 11 has been cancelled.   

Decision made based on:
  • The fairgrounds reached out yesterday and advised they are prohibited from having events until at least 4/5 and it could be extended
  • The government issued self-quarantine until at least 4/7, and who knows what will happen between now and then
  • People need to make plans, and not realistic to do if we don’t know what will happen until the day or 2 prior
  • Even if all the restrictions were lifted in time for the event - the club would lose $ that we cannot afford to do. We could not make up for it in time.    
    • Lost table sales, early birds, raffle and food
As hard as it is, its best just to make the decision now, cut our losses, ensure everyone is healthy and just look forward to next year

Next steps:
  • I have initiated contact with the online sites that promote our show and advised of the cancellation.  You will start to see those shortly (along with Morro Bay that was also cancelled)
  • We are working with the fairgrounds to see what happens with our $1000 deposit. 
    • The additional funds for the event were due this week and we had not paid yet, so no worries on that part.

Let me know if any issues or questions.
Take care of yourselves, stay safe, and will look forward to seeing everyone soon.

Gary PFL

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Friday, February 7, 2020


Note:  This is research by a joint effort between Eric McGuire and myself. We both realized we were doing concurrent research and decided to collaborate in a single article. Great fun, and we welcome any comments or further information on this subject.

"El fantasma". Translated into English, means "the ghost".
And that's exactly what the Mexican Tonic fifth has been. One example was dug down in Southern California years ago. Since then, no more have surfaced. The bottle is a
beautiful example of a clear picture "whiskey". Embossed MEXICAN TONIC / large picture of an eagle but with no serpent in its beak, and talons holding a branch with a flower / JOSE GARCIA, MEX.

Bob Barnett first documented it's existence in 1997, in Western Whiskey Bottles 4th edition as #549, with a footnote that only one damaged example existed. He'd guessed that it dated ca. 1895 - 1905. At the time Bob saw the bottle it was in a collection in
Carson City Nevada. Since then, the bottle had disappeared from the radar. Oh well, it's Mexican anyway so of no real interest to collectors of western American pre-pro whiskies; or so we thought...

This rather rare bottle is not known to many collectors. The name implies some connection to Mexico even though the words MEXICAN TONIC are decidedly English. The proprietor appears to be Jose Garcia from, or in, Mexico. I couldn’t imagine the difficulty in attempting to document this man in Mexico. It would be even more difficult than finding a certain John Smith in the United States. Fortunately, the implied proprietor of this MEXICAN TONIC  is only fictitious. The bottle was actually a product of two California men who are not impossible to document but still a challenge – Alphonso Moncton Peache and Myndert LaRue Starin.

A search of available online digital newspapers turned up this small advertisement. It ran from January 6, 1890 through June 1890. Lowenthal & Myers, wholesale liquor dealers of Albuquerque, New Mexico, secured the wholesale agency for that state in January 1890 and ran a few ads in the Albuquerque Morning Democrat  until April 1890. The only wholesale agent located who advertised the product in California was Brassy & Co. in San Jose, who continued a similar ad from July 1890 to September 1890. Brassy & Co. was primarily a wholesale liquor agent, which lends credence to the conjecture that the Mexican Tonic was an alcoholic beverage.

The partners, Starin and Peache, residents of Los Angeles, created a medicinal product, as phony as the ‘best’ of them, claiming it was good for dyspepsia, constipation and loss of appetite. Packaged in a whiskey style bottle it probably carried a healthy dose of alcohol. Understanding the basics of marketing, the bottles were nicely embossed with a Mexican eagle and the artwork of the labels were first class. The name and graphics were trademarked with the California Secretary of State to help deter imposters who were expected to copy the product if it were to become wildly successful, as they hoped. It received trademark No. 1665 on October 24, 1888, which was undoubtedly about the time that Mexican Tonic was first marketed. 
The beautiful front label for Mexican Tonic
The secondary bottle labels for Mexican Tonic
The son of  England born William E. and Mary J. Thompson Peache, Alphonso Moncton Peache was born in Michigan in 1868. His father was a boiler maker in Port Huron, but Alphonso apparently had no interest in that trade. He first appears in the registration record of the Seventh Infantry Regiment of the California National Guard (Los Angeles) as a Hospital Steward on October 10, 1888.

Of course, there was no bona fide Major George LaRue. Starin had created a fictional person using his middle name for this Major who so loved the Mexican Tonic. This was the earliest ‘advertisement’ located, running on January 1,2 and 3 of 1890.

The 1890 Los Angles Business Directory lists both Peache and Starin as being associated with the Mexican Tonic Co., and both residing at 210 Boyd St. In 1891 Peache is listed as a druggist at the same address, along with Starin, but the latter is listed as a salesman with the Germain Fruit Co.

One may begin to wonder if the Mexican Tonic Co. had reached the end of the line by 1890. To even bolster this thought the Mexican Tonic advertisement that can be found nearly every day in the Los Angeles and San Jose, California, newspapers abruptly ended in September 1890. The only other continuing advertisements for Mexican Tonic were from retailers who were offering sale of the tonic at a reduced price. All indications conclude that the tonic was a defunct product by the end of 1890.
 By 1892 Peache is listed as a salesman at 124 Spring St., and residing at 500 Buena Vista, in Los Angeles. Starin is missing from the listings but is noted as a salesman at 210 Boyd in the 1893 listing. Also of interest is a listing for Helen Starin at 224 Boyd. She was Starin’s mother. Starin is listed at the same address in 1894 as a “business manager Trade”, and in 1895 as a salesman and in partnership with Abe Hart as proprietors of the St. Louis Lunch Room at 109 W. Second. (In 1897and 1898, Starin is a clerk and residing at 210 Boyd, and as a salesman in 1899)

In fact, Peache was acting as a salesman for the Cudahy Packing Company of Omaha at least by January 1892. He continued in the employ of Cudahy as a traveling salesman and is documented traveling throughout the west as far as Helena, Montana, in the north and Dallas, Texas, to the south. He eventually became a manager for Cudahy in 1902 and Peache was quickly ensnared in matrimony when he married Clara Fotheringham on May 14, 1903, in her home town of Sutter Creek, California. He and Clara had two children in San Francisco, Dorothy on March 2, 1904, Kathryn on  March 25, 1907. They then moved to Oakland about 1911 and had Alphonso, jr. on February 19, 1912.

Tragedy struck quickly to the Peache family when Clara died December 1, 1913, and Alphonso died a week later on December 7, 1913. Their three children were suddenly orphans which was quickly remedied when Clara’s parents, Fred and Emma Fotheringham, took them in and raised them in San Francisco.
The obituary notice for Alphonso Peache (Oakland Tribune, December 8, 1913)
Myndert LaRue Starin was born April 5, 1857, in Watertown, Wisconsin. He moved from Chicago to Los Angeles in the Spring of 1880. (Los Angeles Herald, 15 Nov 1896)) Starin is first documented in California as a member of the Eagle Corps of the California National Guard in Los Angeles in 1882, and working for Hellman, Haas & Co., wholesale grocers.  He was elected a third sergeant of the California Eagle Corps National Guard, under the supervision of then Major George S. Patton, in 1884. (He was the father of General George S. Patton, Sr.) (Los Angeles Herald, January 17, 1884) By 1886 Starin was instrumental in organizing Company C of the Seventh Regiment, Los Angeles and elected its captain. (San Diego Union and Daily Bee, August 4, 1889)

It is highly likely that Starin and Peache became friends through their National Guard activities, both committed salesmen; probably saw the potential benefits of creating and selling a medicinal product of their own making. Both apparently loved the world of sales and felt they could succeed handsomely with their talents. Starin’s father, Erastus Charles Starin, died June 30, 1891, leaving his estate equally divided to Myndert Starin and to Helen, who was Myndert’s mother. Myndert’s father had worked in the insurance industry and owned a hotel in Los Angeles. It is probable that Myndert received a considerable estate from his father.
Acting as a traveling salesman, Starin sojourned to Manila in the latter part of 1899. Assessing the business conditions he was pessimistic about opportunities. However, he noted,,. . . “that there are good openings in Manila at present for a manufacturing chemist, lawyers, a photo supply house and a manufacturing confectioner”. (Los Angeles Herald, 12 February 1900) . He may have tipped his hand a bit as a reason for traveling there when he further stated, . . . “The coldest weather there is warmer than in Los Angeles at this time and you can see the ‘miasma’ rise out of the ground every morning.  It is like breathing a poisonous gas, and then there are no sewers.  The moist tropical climate produces all kinds of malarial and tropical fevers and I hear the plague is there now.  If that is so, the question of living there is settled.”

Back in Los Angeles, in 1900 Starin invested in the Oak Oil company, becoming a director, and secretary,  at a time when the Los Angeles fields were booming. (Los Angeles Herald, 4 Mar 1900).  He also became a director of the newly incorporated Kismet Oil company a month later (Los Angeles Herald, 5 April 1900)  He then became a director of the newly incorporated Trophy Oil company in May of 1900.  (Los Angeles Herald, 9 May 1900)  With continued trust in the oil business he then subscribed $7,000 to the incorporation of the Arfena Oil company. (Los Angeles Herald, 19 Jul 1900) It appears that he got a little carried away with investments for in 1903 Starin, still defined as a commercial traveler, filed bankruptcy alleging his liabilities to be $2390 and assets, $350.  (Los Angeles Herald, 22 Jul 1903) And, this was at the time when California was the largest oil producing state in the U.S.
 As he had done several years earlier, Starin purchased a liquor license, this time from A. T. Carter for use at 115 Wilmington Street, Los Angeles. ( Los Angeles Herald, 4 May 1904).  In 1907 he then purchased the liquor license of wholesale liquor dealer, C.R. Grand of 422 North Main Street. (Los Angeles Herald, 11 December 1907). The 1910 U.S. census lists Starin as a wholesale liquor salesman.

Starin was active in politics and attended many of the city, county and State Republican conventions for years, as a delegate. His first bid for the Los Angeles City Council came in 1896, but he lost. In 1909 Starin again threw in his hat for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council. (Los Angeles Herald, 14 Sep 1909) He wasn’t elected but tried again in 1913.  Chances were slim, as the San Pedro Daily News exclaimed the “Aspirants for Mayor and Council (are) thick as dots in a telegraph office”. (San Pedro Daily News, 27 Mar 1913). Not gaining a council seat Starin eventually settled into the accounting business. He died February 25, 1945, in Los Angeles County.

Another company by the name of Goldschmidt Bros. also advertised a Mexican Tonic in the Spanish newspaper, Las Dos Republicas, from 1896 until July 1898. Goldschmidt was a large wholesale liquor company in Los Angeles, and it is my guess that it had acquired the remaining stock of Mexican Tonic, and was attempting to sell it to the Mexican population of Los Angeles.
The elusive Mexican Tonic bottle

A close-up view of the embossing
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