Friday, April 10, 2015

The Spanish American War Through the Glass

After we have dragged through seemingly endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and earlier Vietnam)  an  American war that lasted only three months, two weeks and four days, might seem an impossibility.  That, however, was the duration of the Spanish-American War that began this month 117 years ago.   Despite its short duration, the conflict was an important event in our national history.   Moreover, it generated any number of memorabilia that continue to be of interest to collectors.   Those artifacts include a great many items made of glass and are the subject of this post.  
The proximate cause of the war was the sinking of the U.S. cruiser, the S.S. Maine, in Havana Harbor in February 1898 with the loss of 260 sailors.  President McKinley ostensibly had sent it to Cuba as a sign of American goodwill toward the colonial power there, Spain.  While the  explosion that sunk the Maine has never quite been explained, war hawks in the U.S. were quick to call it “dirty treachery on the part of the Spanish.”  “Remember the Maine,” became the watchword.
The proximate cause of the war was the sinking of the U.S. cruiser, the S.S. Maine, in Havana Harbor in February 1898 with the loss of 260 sailors.  President McKinley ostensibly had sent it to Cuba as a sign of American goodwill toward the colonial power there, Spain.  While the  explosion that sunk the Maine has never quite been explained, war hawks in the U.S. were quick to call it “dirty treachery on the part of the Spanish.”  “Remember the Maine,” became the watchword.

As a result many Spanish-American War souvenirs depict the ship that launched the cry for war against Spain.  Shown here are two items both featuring a similar photograph of the Maine. They are often characterized as “label under glass” bottles.  One is a flask;  the other is a canteen, with holes for a strap to loop through.  The bottles were blown in mold, the picture inserted, and another layer of glass fit over the front.  This insured that the illustration was left intact so long as the glass is not broken.

Yet another familiar war souvenirs and Maine memorials were glass paperweights.  The war occurred during the peak years of American paperweight production as glassblowers made them either as part of their job or as lunchtime and after work diversions.  Although neithe weight shown here were signed by their maker, both contain the familiar war cry and illustrates the Maine heading to the bottom.  The weight at left has only a crude representation of the ship, done in white, with wavy lines indicating its passage downward.  On the second at right, the seas seem to be boiling up around the ship, of with only two smoke stacks and a mast  visible.  
The Maine incident could decorate even mundane objects.  Two shown here, for example, involved mustard,  The one at left is a lidded clear glass mustard jar on which has been embossed a representation of the ship sinking while smoke rises in the air.  Cuba’s Morro Castle is embossed on the other side.  At right is a mustard dish with the Battleship Oregon represented in milk glass.  The Oregon was a Navy battleship that took part in the naval battle of Santiago de Cuba.  Fast enough to chase down and force the surrender of a Spanish cruiser, the ship gained the nickname “Bulldog of the Navy.”  The mustard could be found by lifting the top of the dish.
Another favorite war theme was the cooperation between the U.S. Army and Navy in routing the enemy, both in Cuba and in the Philippines.  This supposed camaraderie was captured in an illustration of a well accoutered soldier shaking hands with a sailor whose sword is posed perilously close to the solder’s knee.  The image, again a label under glass, can be found on several bottle shapes, including canteens and flasks.  
Although the common fighting man got some recognition for his service, the greatest adulation was reserved for the victorious officers.  Admiral George  Dewey had arrived in Manila Bay, the Philippines, with the U.S. Pacific fleet early in the conflict.  He found a large number of Spanish ships anchored there and sank all of them in the ensuing battle.  Not long after 11,000 Army troops stormed ashore and captured Manila.  
Both Dewey and Rough Rider Theodore Roosevelt (whose souvenirs are elsewhere presented on this blog) emerged as the uber heroes of the war.   The flask shown here makes that clear with the patriotic symbols that surround the admiral, as well as the motto:  “Our Hero.”  This is an excellent example of a label under glass bottle and how it can preserve colors.  Dewey’s image also could be found on less decorative items, such as the drinking glass shown here. 
The final label under glass canteen memorializes a most unusual man to be honored for his service.  A cousin of Robert E. Lee, Fitzhugh Lee had fought Union troops as a Confederate cavalry commander. Indeed, near the end of the war he headed of all the rebel horse soldiers.  Fitzhugh had redeemed himself sufficiently by the late 1900s that President Cleveland appointed him U.S. consul-general in Havana.   He was retained in the post by McKinley and lived in Havana through riotous days in Cuba, including the sinking of the Maine.  Upon the declaration of war between Spain and the United States, he re-entered the army.  By this time, however, he had grown so heavy that he hardly could fit on a horse and his duties were largely administrative.  Even so, good old “Fitz” Lee was swept up in the patriotic fervor the day and awarded his face on a label under glass canteen.   

Because the Spanish-American was a short war, it did not produce as much memorabilia as other U.S. conflicts before or since.  Still, the conflict has its place in American history and the glass memorabilia shown here testify to the high emotions it engendered. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

W.C. Fields: The Tippler in Ceramics

The American comedian W. C. Fields, shown here, has been a favorite of mine since grade school. From movies like “My Little Chickadee,” and “The Bank Dick.” to his radio sparring with Charlie McCarthy, Fields’ wit and ability to create a distinctive image have never failed to engage my attention – and that of millions of others. Much of his humor revolved around drinking, a personal obsession of Fields that ultimately would lead to his death. In life, however, he made it a prime source of his humor.  Some examples:
“Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake.”
"Once ... in the wilds of Afghanistan, I lost my corkscrew, and we were forced to live on nothing but food and water for days."
"How well I remember my first encounter with The Devil's Brew. I happened to stumble across a case of bourbon— and went right on stumbling for several days thereafter."
“So long as the presence of death lurks with anyone who goes through the simple act of swallowing, I will make mine whiskey.
"When life hands you lemons, make whisky sours."
“The advantages of whiskey over dogs are legion. Whiskey does not need to be periodically wormed, it does not need to be fed, it never requires a special kennel, it has no toenails to be clipped or coat to be stripped. Whiskey sits quietly in its special nook until you want it. True, whiskey has a nasty habit of running out, but then so does a dog.”
As a result of this close identification of Fields with drinking, he has been depicted numerous times on spirits bottles, jugs, beer steins and mugs. I have a whiskey decanter/ jug from the Turtle Bay Distilling Company of Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, called W.C. Fields Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. It dates from about 1970. In this case, Fields’ head is filled with whiskey. It is accompanied by a water pitcher with a similar face.   Although neither item has a pottery mark, they are attributed to the McCoy Pottery Company of Roseville, Ohio.
The David Sherman Corp. (DSC), more recently known as Luxco, issued at least three Fields decanters for their whiskey. They depict Fields with a tam from his golfing spoofs, the typical top hat and as a uniformed guard from the movie, “The Bank Dick.” In each case the hat is removed to decant the spirituous contents. These ceramics were issued during the mid-1970s. Each jug bears the name of Paul Lux, a founding partner of DSC in 1958 and, by 2004, the CEO of the firm. Lux is assumed to be the designer of these bottles. The St. Louis based organization owned at least 60 liquor brand names and produced these Fields bottles for its network of distributors, wholesalers and retailers.
England’s Royal Doulton Pottery, famously the largest producer of Toby Jugs, made Fields the subject of a character jug, one that emphasized his florid face and red bulbous nose. A piece of his walking stick serves as the handle. The jug was issued in 1982 as part of the pottery’s Celebrity Collection and included on the base a line from the Fields movie “Never Give a Sucker an Even Break”: "I was in love with a beautiful blonde once. She drove me to drink. That's the one thing I'm indebted to her for."
Two other Toby-like jugs, perhaps designed as bar water pitchers, appear to have come from Japan. The one at right shows Fields in a straw boater hat with a more benign look than is usual. On the base a mark identifies this item as a creation of “Sigma the Tastesetter,” This was a Japanese-based organization. A second jug, left with a black hat has no attribution but the appearance of the item also seems a product of Japan.
Fields also has been a popular figure for beer steins and mugs. One dated 1971 appears to be a hand-thrown artisan creation. The comedian, in bas relief, appears to be struggling to emerge from the vessel. A more conventional beer stein, unmarked, emphasizes Field’s top hat and swollen nose.  Finally, dated 1982, is a mug with a carnival glaze.
Although the Fields image most often appears on items linked to drinking, the McCoy Pottery also used his face as the motif for a ceramic cookie jar.  He also has made appearances on a number of glass objects, including shot glasses, drinking glasses and decanters.
Question is, how long will W.C. Fields be recognized as the American icon of the tippler? Note that many of these items were made years after his death in 1946. Because his movies will continue to be available to generations down through the years, my guess is he will be remembered for a long, long time and artifacts bearing his face will continue to be collected.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Snapshots from the Vietnam War — 50 Years After

March 8, 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the first time the U.S. ground forces were deployed in the Vietnam War — the beginning of full-scale combat.  Before that time, although American forces were involved, the possibility of another solution existed.  After that, no chance and the war raged for another 10 years. For me, as for many, the Vietnam War was a pivotal time in life.  With an academic background in South and Southeast Asia, it was inevitable that as a staffer of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs I would be sent to Indochina three times during a period from 1970 until just days before the United States abandoned our embassy in 1975 and the North Vietnamese Army took over. 
This anniversary caused me to review photos I had taken during that period and decide that they could support a narrative about my memories of that time, now long ago.  My first visit to Vietnam was in November 1970 as head of a two-person staff delegation tasked with looking at  the recent North Vietnamese incursion into Cambodia that had thrust that small country into the vortex of the Indochina Conflict.

After some days in the country, my partner and I departed for Saigon to discuss the situation, deteriorating daily for the Cambodian army, with U.S. military officials, including General Creighton Abrams, the commander in Vietnam.  At that point in the war, Saigon still looked like a city at peace when seen from on top of the Caravel Hotel.  From this view no one would know that bloody fighting was taking place not many miles away.
The next photo is of the Continental Hotel, another hostelry across from the Caravel, both of them favorites of visitors.  The Continental was made famous by a long term guest in Room 214.  It was Novelist Graham Greene whose book “The Quiet American”  told of life in post-French colonial Vietnam as American involvement in the country was growing.   For each of the trips the custom was quickly upon arrival to go to the Continental to talk to members of the American press corps who often gathered there.  In turn, the press people were eager to talk to us on the utterly mistaken assumption we had information. 
The final photo from the 1970 trip is of the Roman Catholic Cathedral in downtown Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City).  While the majority of Vietnamese are animists and without organized religion, the Buddhists make up about 16% of the population and Christians, mostly Catholics, another 8 to 9%.  One of the fears about a Communist takeover of South Vietnam was that Christianity would be banned.  In Cambodia, for example, the Khmer Rouge tore down the imposing cathedral in Phnom Penh brick by brick and turned the grounds into a cow pasture.  That did not happen in Vietnam and one can still hear Mass on Sunday at the cathedral.
Our next staff delegation was in 1974 following the “ceasefire” that had been negotiated by the Nixon Administration that fell far short of a real peace.  We spent 10 days in Vietnam and shorter periods in both Cambodia and Laos.  During our Vietnam stay we were flown to all four Corps areas of the country to assess the economic and military situation.  One stop was in Quang Tri, so close to the ceasefire line that we could see NVA fortifications.  The NVA had come across the border with tanks a month earlier and caused considerable damage, including blowing to pieces the cathedral in that city.
The NVA incursion, though eventually beaten back, had left a number of children orphaned or abandoned and we were shown a camp for them in Quang Tri.   The Congress earlier had earmarked $5,000,000 for the benefit of war-disadvantaged South Vietnamese children.  We found conditions in one camp receiving U.S. assistance, shown here, to be providing only rudimentary services.  Yet this was one of the better orphanages; others were operating under deplorable conditions.  
In the Mekong Delta region we surveyed the progress of land reform efforts aided and abetted by U.S. money.  As part of our review, we watched as a field of rice was being harvested. These kind of demonstrations usually are part of officialdom’s efforts to keep the Congressional investigators busy and away from the real problems.  Yet I found this one interesting and land reform the most successful American program.  So successful was it that the Communist government kept much of it in place when it took over.
The last visit was just as Cambodia was about to fall to the brutal Khmer Rouge in 1975.  My partner and I were tasked with accompanying a group of congressmen (and women) of varying viewpoints on the war as a last-ditch effort of the Ford White House to try to save the situation and convince Congress to approve emergency funds to keep the war going in Southeast Asia.  By the time we arrived all food had to be airlifted from Saigon into Cambodian cities.  We flew in a small CIA plane that “cork-screwed” into a landing to avoid unfriendly fire.
In South Vietnam the Congressional delegation met with President Thieu and members of his cabinet at the Presidential Palace, shown below.  The building now serves the same purpose for the current government.  At the time we arrived the ceasefire seemed to be holding in many parts of the country but there had been a troublesome situation in a mid-country province which Viet Cong forces had seized.  South Vietnamese troops could not dislodge them.
An unsettling presence in the city was the delegation from North Vietnam, authorized by the settlement, in the person shown here of Colonel Bao.  We met him for a propaganda harangue of half a hour, while the media thronged around us.   More chilling was an explosion while we were meeting with U.S. military officials at the main U.S. airbase.  Nearby the enemy had blown up a police traffic stand, I am sure to send us a message.
Within days of our departure, Cambodia had fallen, the South Vietnamese army had crumbled, and the Pathet Lao had control of Laos.  There ensued scenes of American ambassador leaving  Vietnam by helicopters from the roof of our embassy, frantic scenes of people trying to escape by plane and boat, and the triumphant march of NVA and Viet Cong troops into Saigon.   

When the Marines landed in March 1965, I was among those who cheered them on.  Partially as a result of being on the scene, it became increasing evident to me that it was a war the U.S. could not win despite the immense blood and treasure expended on the effort.  I have returned to Vietnam twice since 1975, once in 1994 as a lecturer for a tour group of Americans and in 2003 to evaluate U.S. Labor Department aid to the country in the employment sector.  Those visits helped to solidify that view.

I frequently think over what has happen in the years since 1975.  The way the end came, particularly when compared to Cambodia, seems to me to have been as optimal a conclusion as realistically could have been achieved.  While the Communist government dealt harshly with its opponents, it did not unleash a bloodbath and Vietnamese who fled are free to return to visit family.   Memories of the Vietnam War will always remain painful, however, when considering the carnage and the cost.  

Friday, February 27, 2015

Black History Month: A Fourth Look at Whiskey Advertising

February as Black History Month has, year by year, brought to the fore individuals, organizations, activities and events that have helped shape the Nation.  My feeble contribution has been to resurrect vintage whiskey advertising that depicted blacks and to provide some analysis of the illustrations and dialogue evident in those commercial appeals.  My first post on the subject, for anyone interested, was in January 2010.  The second in February 2011 focused on the depiction of African-American waiters.  The third post demonstrated that since the 1960s distillers and liquor dealers have taken different racial attitudes.
For a time those posts exhausted my supply of relevant images.  In the ensuing three years, however, I have been able to collect other examples.  For this post I have grouped them around three themes:  1) The use of what apparently was believed to be black language patterns, 2) the depiction of children, and  3) blacks shown at an occupation.  For last I have saved an illustration that, at least for me, was startling.
We recognize that generations of hardships imposed on the African-American community created distinctive language patterns. Slave owners often intentionally mixed people who spoke different African languages to discourage communication in any language other than English. This, combined with prohibitions against education, led to speech patterns that whiskey interests at the turn of the century apparently thought would have advertising value.
The first example here is from the Schuetz-Renziehausen wholesale liquor dealers of Pittsburgh, an outfit founded about 1880.  It was a highly successful enterprise, occupying an eight-story building on Liberty Street. Frederick C. Renziehausen also became a major distiller of Pennsylvania rye whiskey.  A trade card illustrates two well-dressed black youths who are riding in the back of a wagon driven by a similarly well-dressed adult and pulled by a mule.  The wagon carries a huge bottle of whiskey.  One of the boys is remarking to the driver:  “Golly Boss, der will be no Bellyache dis trip — its ’Diamond Monogram.’”
The second example has the center black figure similarly enthusiastic about the whiskey he is carrying, in this case “Star Whiskey.”  He is remarking “It ‘zactly suits dis chile.”   The ad identifies the spirits as a whiskey distilled and warranted pure by C. L. Dixon of Cynthiana, Kentucky and names a New York distributing agent named W.B. Crowell Jr.  Seen her in a multicolor chronograph, the same trade card was issued in black and white.
The next ad features “Old Harvest Corn whiskey.  The picture is of a black couple sitting in a cabin in front of the fire.  The woman has a small baby on her lap who reaches eagerly for a whiskey bottle.  She is saying “He’s gittin’ mo’ like his dad every day.”  But there is a second message in this scene as the sign, meant for saloons, indicates that Old Harvest Corn “was the cause of it all.”  Are we to assume that whiskey was involved in the conception of this child?
Unlike the three previous examples, all of which were issued prior to 1920 and National Prohibition, the final ad organized around a speech theme was issued after Repeal, probably in the late 1930s.  It has a waiter theme.  The faithful retainer here is offering “Dere sho’ am a run on dis Gibson celebrated rye whiskey.”  Note how the diction changes when the text gets to the product name. 
My second theme is the use of sub-adults in such ads.  We already have seen several youngsters.  Here are three more, led by a small black boy with an ax who is menacing a chicken.  It was issued by the National Distilling Company, an outfit that bought up distilleries and stocks of whiskey during Prohibition and by the mid-1930s was vigorously merchandising its products.  The message here is confusing, seeming to identify the boy with Carrie Nation, the axe-swinging anti-alcohol zealot who had been long in her grave.
Although many of the youngsters shown are smartly dressed, the kid shown above is the real dude.  He wears a straw hat, a checked coat, a cravat, a vest and striped pants.  This dandy is saying in small letters on the base:  “I take Old Continental Whisky!  What do you drink?”   Note that this young man is speaking “The King’s English.”  This trade card was issued by the Bernheim Brothers of Lexington, Kentucky, whose ads did not always treat blacks subjects with the same respect.
The final youth is carrying a signboard, both front and back, a job that was not uncommon in that day but less so today.  His sign advertises Kentucky whiskeys from a B. Kaufman and touts “Old Liquors for family use and medical purposes a specialty.”  Although no location is indicated on this trade card, my research indicates that Bernard Kaufman was a wholesale liquor dealer in business from 1880 to 1890 at two addresses on Washington Street in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Now we move to adult blacks seemingly engaged happily their respective occupations.  The first is the label of a post-Prohibition whiskey called “Cotton Picker Corn Whiskey.”  It depicts an elderly gentleman in the South standing amidst a field of fluffy cotton — definitely an idealized picture. The Old Quaker Company that issued it, however, existed north of the Mason-Dixon line in Lawrenceburg, Indiana.
Another whiskey that celebrated a happy black worker was “Singing Sam” brand of Kentucky corn whiskey.  The label illustration is a figure playing a banjo with notes streaming from his mouth while he leans against a pile of wood that he likely just chopped.  This post-Prohibition brand was issued by a Kentucky distiller named Artie Cummins.  He had purchased what was left of an abandoned distillery at a worker village called Athertonville, rebuilt the plant, and operated it until 1946. .
The final worker is also our only female, clearly looking very well after a squalling infant.  Among the messages on this trade card is that the liquor is:  “Emphatically…’The Whiskies of our Daddies.”  Maybe that is why the baby looks so distressed.  My considerable research about “Old Maryland Dutch Whiskey” has revealed nothing about its origin except a claim that it was distilled on the Eastern Shore of the state.
The saloon sign for Hapstone Rye that ends this post still has me scratching my head.  It appears to show a smartly dressed gentleman of color standing with a white woman with a low bodice who is eyeing him intently while in the midst of hiking her dress to fix a stocking. The sexual implications are evident. This was one of many pre-Prohibition brands from the Samuel Westheimer Co. of St. Joseph, Missouri. Given the anti-miscegenation laws in place in the South, one wonders what point Westheimer was trying to make with this image and how it was received. 
There they are: eleven whiskey advertisements, including trade cards, newspaper notices, bottle labels and saloon signs  — all depicting American blacks.  If issued today most would be readily identified as racist — or at least distasteful.  Distain, however, should not blind us to such images. They remind us of a past we should never, never forget.   

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Watch Famous People Open Bottles with Their Teeth

                                                                                                                                Well, not exactly.  Most of the faces shown here at one time really DID snatch the caps of beer, wine and soda bottles.  That is what they were designed to do.   They are in the tradition of the varieties of cast iron openers that I featured as “vernacular art” in a post in June 2011.  That article has had the most “hits” of any on this blog (2,440 as of this date). One difference is that the openers shown below all sport the faces of famous people, including national leaders, politicians, artists and one rock star.  Moreover, these openers are available for purchase from their creator.

His name is Stephen Maxon and he maintains a website called “Max-Cast Sculpture and Foundry Services.”   Shown here, Maxon provides a whimsical story about himself along with a few salient facts.  He has a master’s in fine arts (MFA) from the University of Iowa, he belongs to the American Craft Council, and his work has been shown in galleries scattered from New York to California.  Of himself he concludes:  “After years of study and toil, Maxon renounced his MFA to become an outsider artist.  Finding casting much less difficult than bending steel bars with his teeth, he developed new ways of melting medal via thought control…After making and losing several fortunes, he currently lives in a trailer in rural Iowa receiving messages from outer space in his dental filings.”
As noted in my 2011 post, figural bottle openers are a post-Prohibition phenomenon, meant to be attached with screws through holes in the ears to a vertical wooden surface. A bottle of beer or soft drink can be inserted into the mouth cavity, pulled down and the cap removed.  In dealing with the famous subjects of Maxon’s vernacular art, I have decided that, rather than dwelling on their careers, to examine their beverages of choice and when possible provide their recipes (in bold).  The first personage shown here is Joseph Stalin (1878-1953), the brutal dictator of the Soviet Union from the mid-1820s until his death.  As might be expected, Stalin’s drink of choice was vodka.  Legend has it that his father used to give the baby Joseph a cloth soaked in vodka rather than a pacifier.  As adult Stalin is said to have imbibed vodka daily.
The next face is that of Mohandas Karamachand Gandhi (1869- 1948), the preeminent leader of the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India.  A strict vegetarian, Gandhi is said to have favored “nourishing and non-violent drinks like juices and squashes.”  He found intoxicating drinks abhorrent and a social malice because he believed they acted as deterrents to humankind’s inter purification and spiritual evaluation.  On the other hand, there is some evidence that like other Hindus he may from time to time imbibed his own urine. 
The man with glasses sporting a hat with crossed sabers is “Rough Rider” Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), the 26th President of the United States.  Teddy liked mint juleps, using fresh mint from the White House garden.  He reputedly used the promise of that drink to entice Cabinet members to play tennis with him.  Roosevelt’s recipe: 10 to 12 fresh mint leaves crushed in sugar water,  2 or 3 ounces of rye whiskey, 1/4 ounce of brandy, stirred and garnished with fresh mint sprigs.  

Maxon also has featured painters of note.  Shown here are two faces of Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) one painted and one left plain.  As for the famous artist’s drinking habits, I will quote something Wiki Answers gave to the question ‘Was Picasso retarded?’. The reply: “Picasso was not retarded. Picasso was drunk and high on absinthe, which gave him great inspiration for his work. Though, his absinthe addiction also drove him to insanity.” Picasso’s reputed last words were: “Drink to me, drink to my health. You know I can’t drink anymore.”

Although Picasso probably would not have enjoyed having his mouth used to decapitate bottles, his colleague,  Salvador Dali (1904-1989), below, would do almost anything to get his face and figure before the public,  apparently believing that any kind of publicity was good.  He invented a drink he called the “Casanova Cocktail.”  The recipe: One tablespoon of Campari bitters, one teaspoon of powered ginger, six tablespoons of brandy, and a pinch of Cayenne pepper. Combine the ingredients and put in the freezer.  After 30 minutes remove the contents and add the juice of one orange.  Stir and drink.  
Of this concoction, Dali claimed: “This is quite appropriate when circumstances such as exhaustion, overwork or simply excess of sobriety are calling for a pick-me-up. Here is a well-tested recipe to fit the bill. Let us stress another advantage of this particular pep-up concoction is that one doesn’t have to make the sour face that usually accompanies the absorption of a remedy.” 
Elvis Presley (1935-1977), although presumably the victim of a drug overdose, has the reputation of not being a regular drinker of alcohol.  His favorite beverages are said to have been Pepsi Cola and Mountain Valley Water.  The facts not withstanding, several alcoholic libations have been invented in the memory of the King of Rock and Roll.   One Elvis Presley Cocktail was unveiled recently on the 80th anniversary of his birth.  The recipe:  One ounce of vodka, 3/4 ounces of hazelnut liqueur, 3/4 ounce of Bailey’s Irish Cream, and 3/4 ounce of creme de banana.   Pour the ingredients into a shaker tin with ice.  Shake well and strain into an old fashion glass with ice.  The assumption is that this drink will taste just like a peanut butter and banana sandwich.  That was Elvis’ favorite.  
Other Maxon creations can be discerned from the final illustration showing a range of personalities in painted cast iron.  Among them I recognize Ronald Reagan, George Bush,  John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and maybe George Romney.   The artist sells these bronze polychrome bottle openers for $83.00 each.  With a door knocker tongue inserted they are $94.00.  He also features other sculptures in cast iron and bronze, the bottle openers being among the least expensive.  One creation called “Bonsai Bass” fetches $4,500.  You can buy a Maxon opener and a whole lot of beer for that outlay of cash.