Saturday, December 9, 2017

Risque' Whiskey IV: From the Salon to the Saloon

This is the fifth in the series of posts that feature the type of female images that often accompanied whiskey and other liquor advertising.  Because women — respectable women, that is — frequently were barred from the interior of drinking establishments, depictions of women in suggestive poses or nude were frequently on display on saloon walls or other barroom accoutrements.  The liquor sponsors seemingly believed that the more sophisticated and artistic their images appeared, the more comfortable their male audience might feel ogling them.

The Tioga Rye ad epitomizes the effort at sophistication.  The gent in top hat and evening attire probably was way overdressed for the clientele of the saloon where this image might have been displayed.  The liquor house behind the image, Raphael & Zeugschmidt, existed under various names in Pittsburgh from 1886 - 1918, an impressive run of thirty-two years.  In addition to Tioga Rye, the proprietors also featured “Popular Price Rye.”

Another elegant image is projected by the El-Bart Dry Gin saloon sign of a young woman looking wanton by the seaside.  This brand was from an aristocratic Maryland family, the Goldsboroughs. The two Charles Goldsborough,  father and son, did not rise to the apex of the Maryland business and social world merely because of blood lines, however, but because they made good liquor and scads of money selling it.  Their Wilson-El Bart distillery was a large complex of three buildings on 3.43 acres in Baltimore totaling 80,000 square feet.

The four images that follow here are from a booklet entitled “Famous Paintings…Funny Stories” that would have been given to the retail customers of I. Trager & Co., a Cincinnati liquor wholesaler whose proprietary brands included “Cream of Old Kentucky,”  advertised throughout the text.

The allusion to “famous paintings” on the four nudes depicted in the booklet is something of a stretch.  The “A. F. Lejune" referenced on the one above is Adolphe Frederic Lejune, a French artist who was active roughly between 1879 and 1912.  He was what was known as a “salon painter,” providing images that were very traditional in their appearance.  I have been able to find nothing about the artist “Louis Perrey,” responsible for “Diana,” a familiar figure on many whiskey-related advertising, always with a bow and arrow.  

Nor are there clues to “Lerch,” the artist who painted the “Will of the Wisp.”   By contrast the artist of “Idyl” was George Papperitz, a German painter, sculptor and poet who was born in Dresden in 1846 and died in Munch in 1918.  You will note that none of these artist was truly famous.  Their inclusion was only because of their nudes. 

Cincinnati whiskey men seemed   particularly keen on nudes in their advertising.  H. F. Corbin provided his saloon customers with the wall sign shown here.  By seeming to be “classical” in its subject matter, such images were deemed more acceptable to the public.   The proprietor could be admired for his taste in art and the presence of frontal nudity was merely an accident.  The Corbin firm was founded in 1895 and went out of business in 1918 after Ohio voted statewide prohibition.

The nudes shown in the Gibson Pure Old Rye ad clearly are modeled on the salon-style women in the buff.  They are floating in various poses as a background for a bottle of Pennsylvania whiskey.  John Gibson was an immigrant from Belfast, Northern Ireland, who began distilling about 1840.  He ran a successful liquor business in Philadelphia but in 1856 built a new facility just to the south of Pittsburgh on the east side of the Monongahela river that he called the Gibsonton Mills Distillery.   From there the brand rapidly gained a national reputation.

Strictly speaking, the following female figure does not represent whiskey but “Gocce D’ro,” sold as a cordial by W. P. Bernagozzi Co., who cited the Pure Foods and Drugs Act in connection with their beverage.  This may not have been a wise move.  In 1919 William P. and Ferdinand Bernagozzi were fined $100 after pleading guilty to misbranding containers of olive oil that they shipped from New York to Connecticut in violation of that same 1906 act.

The next nude image is found on a celluloid pocket mirror issued by Frank Woodruff, the generous proprietor of the Normandy Saloon in Coldwater, Michigan. Note that Woodruff not only gave away this trinket but it was good for 10 cents in trade at his bar. The figure is in a highly unusual pose.  She apparently is nude but with drapery on both shoulders and a strip of cloth down the front, hiding her nether parts.

The final exhibit is a saloon sign “par excellence.”  It has all the classical attributes of a salon painting with the raw licentiousness that would make the clients of Albert Hertz of Gloversville, New York, anxious to hang on their walls. Hertz was a dealer in liquor and wine in the pre-Prohibition era.  The sign is believed to date from around 1905.

There they are, ten women in all their loveliness, some clothed, most not so.They appeared on a range of advertising items, from pocket mirrors to saloon signs — all with a single purpose:  To catch the eye of the (male) beholder and sell him whiskey.

Note:  For anyone interested in the earlier iterations of “risque’ whiskey” posts, they can be found in this blog in January 2011, July 2012, July 2013, and January 2016.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Pennsylvania Whiskey History on Paperweights

In March of this year at a Philadelphia convocation of distillers, many of them running boutique distilleries, I spoke on the history of whiskey-making in Pennsylvania.  Subsequently my attention has been drawn increasingly into understanding the nature and extent of that industry in the Keystone State.  This has focussed me on stories behind the Pennsylvania items in my whiskey paperweight collection.  Shown here are nine weights, with details on the four companies of their origins.

Phillip H. Hamburger, a German Jewish immigrant, was not the first distiller to conflate Pennsylvania whiskey with the Monongahela River that flows through the Keystone State. That waterway had been identified with strong drink since the 18th Century. But Hamburger made the Monongahela the centerpiece of his merchandising and his rye whiskey was, as a writer recorded in 1904, “not only known from ocean to ocean, but in every civilized country on the globe.”

Beginning as a liquor wholesaler, Hamburger moved gradually into distilling, initially through an investing lin a primitive distillery at Bridgeport, Pennsylvania, on the Monongahela River owned by George W. Jones.  After Jones died, Hamburger took it over, changing the name to the Ph. Hamburger Co.  Once he had achieved full ownership, Hamburger moved ahead boldly to expand his facilities and his market. He built significantly onto the original plant and warehouses. A contemporary publication reported: “The Hamburger Distillery, Limited, is one of the largest plants of the kind in the world, covering about fourteen acres of ground. 

Hamburger marketed his brands extensively in newspapers and magazines. He featured three brands, all advertised on paperweights here. In addition to “G.W. Jones Monongahela Rye,” both “Bridgeport Pure Rye” and “Bridgeport Pure Malt” boasted the Monongahela origin on their labels.  All three acquired a national and even international customer base. In 1914, Hamburger’s whiskey won a gold medal at the Universal Exhibition in Nottingham, England, and again in 1915 at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition held in San Francisco. During his lifetime Hamburger had been an important force for make Pennsylvania rye whiskey recognized worldwide. 

Beginning his career as a baker, John Dougherty, an Irish Catholic immigrant, soon moved into distilling, opening his own whiskey-making facility in 1849. Dougherty’s “Pure Rye Whiskey” met with almost immediate success, capturing a market in the Philadelphia area and beyond. The company’s first still was a wooden one of 750 gallons. It soon was joined by a second copper still with a 1,200 gallon capacity. Both were fueled by steam. A new larger warehouse was built in 1864, with a capacity of 3,000 barrels.  

In 1866 John Dougherty died at the age of 78.  Son William took over as senior manager and the company name was changed to J.A. Dougherty’s Sons. The business continued to grow. Three new warehouses were built over the next several years adding 12,900 gallons of storage capacity. The complex employed some 30 workers. In 1879 the first warehouse was enlarged to hold 4,000 barrels.  Year after year the fame of Dougherty whiskey grew.

At the age of 67 William died in 1892 at his residence in Philadelphia, leaving his brother Charles as the manager of the firm. The youngest Dougherty son continued the successes forged by his father and brother. He discarded the wooden still in favor of a second copper pot and in 1893 rebuilt one warehouse to hold 3,800 barrels and added new floors to another to increase capacity to 25,000 barrels. The continued expansion was indicative of a growing national market for Dougherty Pure Rye.

In contrast to Hamburger and Dougherty, William C. Wilkinson was born in Philadelphia and of old Pennsylvania stock.  Originally a partner in a local wholesale liquor house, when the partner died in 1893, Wilkinson bought the entire business and changed the name to his own.  His flagship brand was “Stylus Club.” Philadelphia’s Stylus Club was an organization restricted to editors, reporters, publishers and other contributors to local newspapers and magazine. Founded in 1877, it was largely a social gathering where, it has been speculated, a fair amount of drinking went on. 

Not a distiller, Wilkinson represented a growing element within the industry, that of a wholesale liquor dealer selling whiskey under his own proprietary brand.  He might be buying whiskey from a Pennsylvania distillery and bottling it as it came, or mixing several whiskeys, sometimes adding other ingredients, in his own facility.  This process was known as “rectifying.”  Frequently rectifiers would trademark these brands, as Wilkinson did with “Stylus Club” in 1891.

A variation on that model was practiced by the Flemings, part of a prominent Irish family of Pittsburgh druggists.  Under the name, Jos. Fleming & Son, Joseph and his son George, turned a drug store rectifying operation into a national whiskey powerhouse.  Doing business from its single location at Market and Diamond Streets, the company advertised “Fleming’s Export Rye Whiskey” and “Fleming’s Malt Whiskey” across America.  Bottles similar to those shown on the paperweights here have been found all across the country, including one recently discovered in a Sacramento, California, state park. 

As druggists, the Flemings shaped their advertising to emphasize the medicinal benefits of whiskey.  Their ads are redolent with statements like “physicians should recommend…” and “physicians prescribe….”  As prohibitionary forces closed in, such medical claims became the best refuge for many Pennsylvania whiskey purveyors, the majority not druggists. 

Joseph Fleming died in 1890 and son George at a relatively young 51 in 1912. Shortly thereafter other family members sold the business and the whiskey brands to a local pharmacist who continued to operate the business under the Fleming name until the imposition of National Prohibition in 1920.

None of the four liquor establishments featured here survived the 14 “dry” years until Repeal in 1934.  Their histories and those of dozens of other pre-Prohibition Pennsylvania distilleries and liquor houses document the growth of the state’s whiskey industry from small farmstead stills to companies with a national marketing reach.  The paperweights they issued serve as a reminder of that dynamic era.


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Oh, Those Radio Days!

Yes, kids, there was a time before the advent of television when people stayed glued to a box that that had only sound — no sight.   Those days were the apex of radio entertainment — the 1940s and into the 1950s.  As a youngster I was addicted to listening, morning (when not in school), evenings and weekends.   Reading a list of programs from that era, I am struck by how many were tuned to my dial.  From them, however, I have winnowed a list of just four for which I have a special fondness.

The first is The Shadow, a character adapted from a pulp magazine that first aired with a half hour on CBS in 1937.  It was my favorite show and still is.  The Shadow was characterized as having traveled through East Asia and learned  "the power to cloud men's minds so they cannot see him." As in the magazine stories, The Shadow was not given the literal ability to become invisible.  The introduction to the program sent chills through me — and still does as the character intones: "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!”  It was followed by haunting laugh.

On the radio The Shadow assumed the visual identity of Lamont Cranston, described as “a wealthy young man-about-town” who every week found himself emeshed in a crime, one often imperiling his girlfriend, “the lovely and talented” Margo Lane.”  She was the only person to know the crime-fighter’s real identity.  What the pair and The Shadow actually looked like was meant for our imaginations.  As depicted in the pulps The Shadow wore a wide-brimmed black hat and a black, crimson-lined cloak with an upturned collar over a standard black business suit.  Later a crimson scarf was added.

At the outset, The Shadow was played by Orson Welles, one of the most famous actors and directors of American history, shown here in a radio spot promo.  Although another actor intoned the introduction, Wells provided the stirring conclusion. At the end of each episode The Shadow reminded listeners that, "The weed of crime bears bitter fruit! Crime does not pay...The Shadow knows!"   That message got across to a young mind forcefully.  Welles left the program in 1838 and a succession of Shadow voices followed until December 26, 1854, when the program left the air.

My second choice, something completely different, was “Fibber McGee and Molly,” a situation comedy that ran from 1935 to 1936 on NBC. It followed the adventures of a working-class couple, the habitual storyteller Fibber McGee and his sometimes exasperated but always loving wife Molly, living among their numerous neighbors and acquaintances in the community of Wistful Vista.   The program as I recall aired on Tuesday nights after my bedtime on a school night.  But my parents thoughtfully allowed a radio in the bedroom with instructions to turn it off as soon as the program ended. 

The characters were created and portrayed by Jim and Marian Jordan, a real-life husband and wife team that had been working in radio since the 1920s.  Because of a clamor from fans to be able to see the personalities behind the disembodied radio voices, Fibber McGee and Mollie portrayed their characters in four motion pictures, often starring another favorite, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.  Athough the films were somewhat creaky by today’s standards, I eagerly await each of them.

Looking back, it may have been the fact that the McGees were Irish and my family was Irish.   More likely, however, it were the running gags.  For example, when Fibber tells a bad joke, Molly often answers, “Tain’t funny, McGee,” which became a catch-phrase of the times. Perhaps the show’s most enduring stroke was Fibber’s closet.  It involved someone, usually McGee opening a hall closet with the contents clattering down and out and, often enough, over McGee's or Molly's heads. "I gotta get that closet cleaned out one of these days" was the usual McGee observation once the racket subsided.  It never failed to get a laugh from the studio audience (no laugh track in those days) and those of us at home.

Among the many after-school radio programs aimed a young crowd — “Jack Armstrong,” “Dick Tracy,” “Green Hornet” — my favorite was “The Lone Ranger.”  It aired for a half hour on ABC at 7:30 p.m., after dinner but before homework and bedtime.  I always thrilled to the opening: “In the early days of the western United States, a masked man and an Indian rode the plains, searching for truth and justice. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when from out of the past come the thundering hoofbeats of the great horse Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again!”

The Lone Ranger was named so because the character was the only survivor of a group of six Texas Rangers.  A posse of six rangers while pursuing a band of outlaws, is betrayed by a civilian guide  and ambushed in a canyon. Later, an Indian named Tonto stumbles onto the scene and discovers one ranger is barely alive, and he nurses the man back to health.  To disguise his identity, the ranger — dubbed The Lone Ranger by Tonto — dons a black mask.  The Lone Ranger’s horse was named Silver;  Tonto rode Scout.  According to the program introduction, the two men “led the fight for law and order in the early western United States! Nowhere in the pages of history can one find a greater champion of justice!”  

In reality, the program was a well-scrubbed Old West.  The Lone Ranger always spoke with perfect grammar and without any slang.  When forced to use guns, he never shot to kill but tried to disarm his antagonists.  No scene ever occurred inside a saloon only "restaurants."  Nonetheless, this youngster thrilled each night to hear “Hi Ho Silver, the Lone Ranger Rides Again.”

My last selection may seem odd for a youngster, but it is Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club,” a morning variety show out of Chicago on ABC radio for more than 35 years.  While later it would have some personal ties, when I was a kid it was entertainment when I was home sick.  It was my fate to come down with virtually every childhood disease known to medicine including measles, mumps, chicken pox and scarlet fever.  Top it off with viral pneumonia as an eighth grader and I spent a lot of time with morning radio.

McNeill, shown here, presented a program that combined music with informal talk and jokes often based on topical events, usually ad-libbed. In addition to recurring comedy performers, vocal groups and soloists, listeners heard sentimental verse and a musical “March Around the Breakfast Table.”  He is credited with being the first performer to make morning talk and variety — now a staple of TV — a viable format.  I was an avid listener.  Perhaps too avid.  Asked to prepare the eighth grade graduation skit, I came up with the dialogue modeled on the show that the nuns thought too “adult” and nixed it.

To the personal.  For a long time McNeill was the most famous graduate of the Marquette University College of Journalism, where I went to school, and a friend of its longtime Dean Jeremiah O’Sullivan.  Later in life the O’Sullivan introduced us and I could tell McNeill that while he had married one of the Dean’s early secretaries, I had married his last.  The final Breakfast Club was taped in December 1968.  McNeill retired from broadcasting and public life, dying seven years later.

There are a number of other radio shows of that era that I might have mentioned — “Ozzie and Harriet,” “Jack Benny,” “Lorenzo Jones and His Wife Belle,” “Bob and Ray,” and the list could go on.  But these four shows mark for me the “crucial corners” of that talking box we called radio.  Those, indeed, were the days.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Native Americans Selling Whiskey

The use of American Indian themes in selling a range of medicinals was common in the 19th and early 20th century.  Native peoples were believed to have herbal and other cures beyond Western medicine.  Not so in whiskey advertising and marketing.  Perhaps discretion was suggested by the rampant alcoholism among Indians and their association with liquor often not deemed appropriate.  Nevertheless, over at least a decade of looking, I have found a few examples where Native Americans were used in whiskey merchandizing.

My first examples are two whiskey jugs issued by Martindale & Johnson, a Philadelphia liquor house headed by Thomas Martindale, esteemed as a big game hunter and civic leader.  Both jugs bear the name “Minnehaha - Laughing Waters,” the female heroine of the poem “Hiawatha” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  The ceramic at left shows the Indian maiden sitting by a waterfall as if looking expectantly for her love.  The jug at right apparently shows Hiawatha in a canoe shooting arrows at a fire-breathing sea dragon.  The scene, by the way, has nothing to do with Longfellow’s poem.  

The Indian brave made another appearance on whiskey jugs issued by George Benz & Sons of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, a German immigrant who specialized in packaging his whiskey in attractive containers. Hiawatha is shown against a background of wigwams, striding down a path with bow and arrows.  He appears to have an Indian war club tucked in his tunic.  The jug at right recently sold at auction for $332.

“Indian Hill” was a whiskey produced by William Cate of Knoxville, Tennessee.  Not only did it bear a paper label showing Indians, embossed into the glass were the heads of two chiefs.  Cate had a difficult time with prohibition forces, moving several times from state to state to avoid local or state restrictions on making or selling alcohol.  This brand survived through the period of National Prohibition and was re-introduced by another distiller after Repeal.

The Indian maiden illustrated in “Tippecanoe,” a double fire copper whiskey from Union Distilling Company, a Cincinnati rectifying (blending) operation.  For saloon signs, almost always displayed in places where women and children were excluded, the husky lass was shown barebreasted.  When used on the label of a bottle that might find itself on a grocer’s shelf or a druggist’s display case where the eyes of the world might see, the maiden was more chastely dressed. 

The man who produced the tray of the Indian brave hunting a buffalo was a larger-than-life character who called himself Andrew Madsen Smith, “The Wandering Dane,” and eventually settled in Minneapolis. Leaving Denmark as a boy his career took him to many adventures as a ship’s cook,  a London street urchin, and then back to sea and, through jumping ship, into the clutches of Indians in the jungles of Brazil.  He also had encountered Native Americans in the West during a period living in Utah.  

“Red Chief Whiskey” was the product of another man whose life reads like a novel and who knew plenty about Indians.  He was Jack Danciger, born in 1877 in Taos, New Mexico, His was only one of two non-Spanish, non-Indian families in the small town.  His father ran a general store in Taos and owned a ranch outside town where he raised cattle.  One story told about Jack is that at six years old he was kidnapped by a nearby Indian chief who was childless and wanted the boy as a son.   When Jack’s whereabouts were discovered,  his parents through careful negotiation were able to retrieve him.

The picture of the Indian princess, Pocahontas, as displayed on the letterhead of R. T. Dawson & Company of Baltimore does not inspire confidence that she appealed to John Alden.  Her nose and chin seem woefully drawn on the Baltimore wholesale whiskey dealer’ letterhead from 1911.  “Pocahontas Whiskey” appears to be Dawson’s only proprietary brand, trademarked by the company in 1907.  My hope is that the bottle label carried a better image.

The final example is the label of a post-Prohibition whiskey called “Indian Trader,” from Frankfort Distilleries Inc.  This was an outfit that originally came under the ownership of Paul Jones with a distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, and offices in Louisville and Baltimore.  The operation survived the period of National Prohibition by being licensed to sell “medicinal” whiskey, with its brands surviving into the 1940s when it was taken over by Seagrams.

Here they are, a dozen images of American Indians in whiskey advertising and merchandising that have taken years to collect.  Looking them over, it is clear that when Native Americans were depicted, in virtually every case they were presented in heroic or at least dignified ways.  

Saturday, October 14, 2017

More Poking Fun at Beer in Milwaukee

In May 2015 I posted on this blog a series of humorous trade cards and postcards from Milwaukee sources, including breweries, that poked fun at its image as America’s “beer town.” In the intervening months I have collected an additional group of similar images that also deserve viewing.  

The “Happy Days in Milwaukee” postcard provides an appropriate opening to the topic.  Here we are looking at a vested gent who apparently is fishing while sucking on a beer keg floating beside his boat.  He also has a bottle of beer within his reach behind the lawn chair in which he is reclining.   The well-stuffed gent also appears to have caught a fish whose tail sticks up in the bow of the boat.  Relaxation at its best.
The well-dress, top-hatted figure in the postcard above similar looks relaxed — or more likely drunk.  He is a two-fisted drinker, with a stein of beer in either hand.  The reference to Wurzburger flowing in Milwaukee is puzzling since it refers to a beer first brewed by a German bishop in 1643.  Among the earliest German beers to be imported into the U.S., it was made only in Wurzburg, never in Milwaukee.

There follows the images of a stout burgher in a bowler hat drinking straight from the barrel, providing “One View of Milwaukee, according to the captions.  This postcard came in more than one version with the colors of the drinker’s clothing changing while the basic concept did not.

“Touring Milwaukee” is a more subtle reminder of the many large breweries that once graced the city.  The vehicle illustrated has a beer barrel with spigot as the engine and two open steins as the headlights.  For good measure the driver has a third stein ready at hand.  Two containers at the side are labeled with favorite Milwaukee foods — “sauerkraut” and “frankfurter.”
In an oblique reference to the increasing strength of prohibitionary forces, the card above alludes to the fact that brewery owners largely were German in origin. Milwaukee is “Breweryville” and the five characters at the end of rope apparently their owners who, if Wisconsin goes “dry”:  “We Germans must hang together side by each.”   A similar card from Heilman Brewery in LaCrosse, Wisconsin has a slightly different message:  “If this town goes dry, us Germans will hang togeder.”

The Jung beer trade card is known to collectors as a “mechanical.”  When issued it contained a white powder that flowed, if tilted, from the huge stein in the imbiber’s hand down to the pitcher being filled by the rosy cheeked barmaid.  Philipp Jung was born in Germany in 1845 and immigrated to Milwaukee in 1870.  After working in the Jacob Best Brewery and marrying his daughter, Jung broke away to found his own brewery in 1879.  It became a rival to the Best Brewery and its successor beer-maker run by another Best son-in-law, Frederick Pabst.
If you like puns, then a card likely issued by Milwaukee’s Schlitz Brewery may tickle your funny bone.  It takes advantage of a fashion statement begun at the turn of the 20th century when Paul Poiret revolutionized women's dress by introducing a skirt that was that was long and fitted but frequently featured a slit that revealed the wearer’s ankles.   The proximity of “slits” to “Schlitz” seems to have overcome the good sense of the card designer, leading to the image shown here.

Sometimes the humor involved in Milwaukee beer-related ephemera seems unintended.  Such is the “Pabst Everywhere”  card that shows four construction workers, apparently on their lunch break, one of whom is drinking from a large vessel.  The tag line is “Pabst-Milwaukee is enjoyed by the workingman.”  Yet one is left wondering how steady on the job these midday drinkers will be after drinking their lunch. 

The final example is an advertisement for a 1904 Pabst Calendar showing 12 children from a wide range of countries, each attached to a month.  This calendar could be obtained from the Milwaukee brewery for ten cents in coin or stamps.
It is called a “stork calendar” and shows a large bird front and center, one that apparently has brought the tots.  It occurs to me that a subliminal message is:  “Drink beer and make babies.”  But it just may be me.

The identification of Milwaukee with beer long since has faded into obscurity.
The Jung Brewery closed with National Prohibition.  Schlitz sold out in 1982.  Pabst is a holding company with a blizzard of brands, no longer headquartered in in Milwaukee but in Los Angeles.  Only Miller remains of the major breweries that once identified the city as “beer town.”  Yet remaining to us are these reminders of a day when Milwaukee gloried in the suds —and laughed about it as well.