Saturday, July 20, 2019

Remembering Richard “Dick” Holbrooke


He liked to be called Richard Holbrooke, but I never called him anything but “Dick.”  We had adjoining offices on the Fifth Floor of the State Department from 1978 to 1981, both of us as Executive Level 4 federal officials, he as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific and I as Assistant Administrator of USAID for East and South Asia and the Pacific.

Those days were brought back to me forcefully by a new book from author George Packard entitled “Our Man, Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century.”  Having read the book over the past several days I am emboldened to put down my own memories of this accomplished American diplomat.

We first met during the early 1970s when I was a staff consultant for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs in Asia on assignment to review the operations of the Peace Corps.   Holbrooke at that time was the Peace Corps director in Morocco but sent to Asia on Corps business from time to time.  We encountered each other in a waiting room of the Djakarta, Indonesia, airport and began to chat.   All flights had been grounded in anticipation of the air arrival of President Suharto and our conversation stretched into four hours during which we found ourselves in general agreement on Peace Corps, the Vietnam War and other topics.

Fast forward five years and the election of President Jimmy Carter.  Holbrooke had been named Asia and Pacific secretary, the youngest ever to hold that position, and I had been nominated for USAID’s Asia Bureau.  The only question was my future office, with the most desirable one overlooking the Lincoln Memorial.  Although I had not seen him since Indonesia, Holbrooke intervened, declaring that my office should be adjacent to his to facilitate close communication.  That turned he decision and I was assigned the prime location.

Not long after, Dick called me on the day of his swearing into office to ask a favor. After the ceremony, he asked, could I take his two sons, David and Anthony, to lunch in the State Department cafeteria and bring them back to the celebration he was planning in his office.  Recognizing that he only recently had undergone a divorce and no mother would be present, I readily agreed.  At lunch I found Holbrooke’s sons withdrawn, almost sullen.  Subsequently, David has revealed that his father was in the habit of dropping off the boys — uninvited and unannounced —at the homes of friends just to be free of them for the day.  Then I understood their unease with me.

During the four years we served together in the Carter Administration, Dick and I never had a disagreement.  On one or two occasions he had an project he wanted to pursue with USAID funds in an Asian country.  After reviewing his proposals I found them to be good ideas, allocated the funds, and they turned out   to be a productive use of funds.

Most of all, however, I remember Holbrooke’s unwavering support for my central effort at USAID.   Famine 1975!  America’s Decision:  Who Will Survive? was a 1967 best selling book by brothers William and Paul Paddock.  Population had outrun the feeding capacity of the world, they claimed.  As the world’s leading food producer, the Paddock’s urged, the U.S. should practice a “triage” system leaving behind, apparently to starve, countries like India and Egypt.

Their predictions ignored developments in agricultural science that were making great strides in developing new strains of wheat and rice in association with chemical fertilizers, pesticides, controlled water-supply, and new methods of cultivation.  As these agricultural methods advanced in the 1970s, they became known as “The Green Revolution.”  Because the threat of famine was still a concern in 1977, along with officials of the World Bank and other developed countries,  I concentrated as much assistance money as possible, ultimately reaching close to $1 billion a year, to spreading the Green Revolution to the smallest farmers throughout Asia. 

In this effort, I had Dick Holbrooke’s unrestrained support.  In our meeting he expressed his deep concern about the possibility of people starving from a world-wide shortage of food.  In the end, the concerted international effort was successful.  The famine predicted by the Paddocks was averted through the instrument of the Green Revolution and its adoption.  Packard refers to Holbrooke as a “humanitarian” and I found him so.

The author, however, does not hesitate to detail Dick’s unbridled ambition, his betrayal of friends, his power struggles, and his sexual liaisons.  Much of this history was revealing to me, having only my four year experience to guide my opinions.   Although Holbrooke favored the war in Iraq, a mistake he later acknowledged, he will be best known for negotiating the Dayton Accords that brought a measure of peace and stability to the Balkans.  Some thought he should have won the Nobel Peace Prize.


When he died in 2010 at the age of 69, Holbrooke was a special envoy to Afganistan and Pakistan, attempting to bring that long running regional conflict to an end.  It is reported that as Dick was readied for unsuccessful surgery for a severely torn aorta, he said to the doctor, “You’ve got to end this war in Afghanistan.”  To the title of humanitarian, I would add another, Dick Holbrooke was a peacemaker. Through all the chaff thrown up around his name, much of it of his own doing, he deserves to be remembered that way.




















Thursday, July 4, 2019

Greetings on the Fourth of July

  
Not so very long ago it was the custom for people to send greeting cards — usually postcards — to family and friends on Independence Day.   These had a variety of themes, from highly patriotic, often involving the image of Uncle Sam, to political themes, and humor.   Many of them came from the workshop of Fred C. Lounsbury (1857-1917) and his Crescent Embossing Company of Plainfield, New Jersey.  Shown here are a sampling of ten Lounsbury July 4 postcards.

Although Lounsbury’s name appears on many of the cards issued from Crescent Embossing, he was not an artist but an entrepreneur and advertising specialist who directed the output of his firm that produced calendars, labels, advertising items and, beginning by 1907, topical postcards.  Several of my favorites have unintended humorous aspects.  Note the one at right.  Uncle Sam, draped in a flag, seems likely to have his pants singed or worse from the firecrackers exploding at his right leg.  

I also find humor in the card of Uncle Sam gazing from a window at a group of boys firing off a cannon.  Sam undoubted is proud of the youths, terming them “free and independent.”  He seems unaware that the cannon is not aimed in the air but level with the ground.  What are they aiming at?  Maybe the Trump White House.


Several Lounsbury cards for the Fourth contain memorials to famous Revolutionary War battles.  Uncle Sam is absent here in favor of cameos of George Washington and General John Sullivan (no relation) celebrating the victory at Trenton over the British redcoats and the Hessian mercenaries in December, 1775, Washington’s first major victory.


Another in the battle series hailed the victory at Yorktown in October 1781, the last battle of the war for independence.  Lord Cornwallis, the defeated general is depicted, looking foppish in his heavily braided uniform.  No mention is made of the French marines and French fleet that made the victory possible.


The card at left celebrates a later conflict, the Spanish-American War.  Here Uncle Sam is showing off Independence Day fireworks, surrounded by five children.  Four of them represents one of the territories wrested from Spanish rule:  Philippines, Cuba, Guam and Puerto Rico; the fifth, Hawaii.  All but Cuba would become possessions of the U.S.   The Philippines would eventually be given its independence.

The Lounsbury cards could also carry a political message.  The proprietor seems to have been a fan of President Theodore Roosevelt, showing him in his “Rough Rider” outfit from the Spanish-American War.  Driving a stars and stripes race car, Teddy assures a terrified Uncle Sam that:  “Don’t be afraid Uncle - We’ll get there all right.”  No idea is given, however, of the destination.


Another political card is also subject to interpretation.  It shows a fat bellied, cigar smoking Uncle Sam looking more like a genial robber baron than a symbol of American democracy.  He is contemplating two top-hatted, cigar smoking animals, identified as “Billy Possum” and “Jimmy Possum.”  They are presented as “The Nation’s Choice.”  The allusion is to the Presidential election of 1908 that pitted Republican William Howard Taft (“Billy”) against Democrat William Jennings Bryan (“Jimmie”).  The card seems to equate the two, although their views differed sharply.  Taft won with 51% of the vote.

The final set of Fourth of July cards are meant to be humorous.  The artist on all of them may be Charles Bunnell (1897-1968), an American painter and printmaker known for his ability to adapt to all popular styles from abstracts to realism and in this case, apparently cartooning.   Bunnell, who must have been in his teens when these were drawn, has fashioned all these cards in a manner reminiscent of the Hearst papers cartoon, “The Yellow Kid,” drawn by Richard Outcault [See my post on Outcault June 13, 2009.]   The first has an odd-looking George Washington lighting a fire cracker under a British general.

The next British general to be caught unawares by Washington was General Howe, the commander of His Majesty’s troops in the American colonies during much of the Revolutionary War.  The artist has him snoozing as all around him are explosive materials that are lighted and will soon blow him away.  

A rather different looking George Washington, standing on the crown of King George III, is purportedly reading from the Constitution [read “Declaration” ] of Independence to a highly distressed monarch who is strapped to a giant rocket.  A small boy with a lighted taper is remarking to Washington, “Say when boss!”  Note particularly the small hatchet in Washington’s belt, a reference to the cherry tree fable.

Although sending postcards at the holiday has gone out of style, the importance of the holiday is undiminished as a reminder of the many blessings of liberty we enjoy in the United States.  Fred Lounsbury understood that more than a hundred years ago and, as one writer has put it “...He truly excelled when it came to the Fourth of July.”  

Note:  Factual material about Fred Lounsbury and some images were taken from an article entitled “Lounsbury’s 4th of July Postcard Sets” by Fred Nuhn that appeared in the Antique Shoppe newspaper, dated July 2005.


















Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Future of Boutique Distilleries

     
Because of my two blogs that deal with whiskey, from time to time I am called upon by start-up distilleries for images and sometimes for thoughts.  Two years ago the Delaware Valley Fields Foundation asked me to come to a convention of boutique distillers, held at the Philadelphia “Phillies” ballpark. I was part of a panel discussing the history of rye whiskey-making in Pennsylvania.  It was a fascinating experience, allowing me to talk to a number of young people about their business plans and the first of several encounters with distilling start-ups.

Opening a distillery and expecting to make a living at it is a tricky business.  Unlike boutique breweries where the beer can be drunk almost as soon as it is produced, real bourbon and rye must be aged at least four years by law and a proprietor easily could go broke waiting.  There are interim strategies, e,g. making and selling “moonshine” —clear whiskey— or flavoring as gin the clear liquid that comes out of the tubes.  But competition is heavy in both areas. I left the convention worried about the futures of those starry-eye young people.


As in the case of Sagamore Spirits Distillery of Baltimore, Maryland, it is best to have a millionaire owner such as Kevin Plank, shown here.  He is the CEO of Under Armour Corp., high flying manufacturer of sports and casual attire, including footwear.  Sagamore’s public relations people were in touch with me for ideas on a gallery devoted to Maryland’s rich whiskey past.  For several years the distillery has been up and running at Baltimore’s Port Covington, where the cruise ships anchor. Shown below, It is the first part of a envisioned $5.5 billion development there to include a new headquarters for the Under Armour, residences, stores and recreational amenities. The distillery currently is open for tours and for tastings.

Until recently, however, the whiskey bearing the Sagamore labels was NOT made on premises, but in Indiana at a conglomerate-owned distillery that makes whiskey for a host of start-ups.  Meanwhile Sagamore’s product was aging to the desired four years.  Plank’s distillers are not trying for top shelf status, competing with quality national brands of longstanding. Theirs is not “sippin’ whiskey.” Instead they emphasize using their ryes in mixed drinks and cocktails.  It is priced accordingly, with a fifth generally available in the $35 to $50 range.  While probably losing money for Mr. Plank initially, Sagamore has a good longterm strategy for profitability.

The Jos. A. Magnus Company of Washington, D.C., is on a more worrisome track.  Having seen a post of mine about Joseph Magnus of Cincinnati (shown here) on my Pre-Pro Whiskey Men website, his great-grandson, Jimmy Turner, a former sports agent, was in touch with me several years ago about his vision of reviving the Magnus brand name on whiskey.   

Although I was cautionary, Mr. Turner has been successful in finding sufficient investment to install a distillery in a vacant warehouse in Northeast Washington, hired a young, confident looking distiller named Brian Treacy to run it, and has placed his Joseph Magnus Straight Bourbon Whiskey in liquor stores including Northern Virginia where I live.


This distillery also is making gin and, I assume, some moonshine.  But like Sagamore Spirits, while the Magnus D.C. distillation is aging the required four years to be marketed as bourbon, it has contracted with the Indiana outfit for product.  Unlike the Baltimore oufit,  Magnus has priced its whiskey as a top shelf bourbon, selling for as much as $90 a bottle.  Even after its own distillation has sufficient age, breaking into the Woodford, Wild Turkey, Pappy Van Winkle circle will be extremely difficult without the national advertising those brands can afford.  I hope the best for the Magnus Distillery but with trepidation.

My final distillery has neither a rich underwriter like Sagamore nor a distinguished pre-Prohibition pedigree like Magnus.  It is the Flying Buck Distillery of Augusta, West Virginia.  It is the brainchild of Jim Gearing, a retired federal employee and wine maker, and his partner, Jimbo, an organic farmer and barbecue griller who lives off Route 50 east of Romney, WV.  Compare their distillery building here with Sagamore’s above.


I recently attended a tasting of Flying Buck liquors, presided over by Gearing, who clearly is a master of taste when it comes to alcoholic beverages.  As can be seen from the bottles here, the partners are experimenting with various flavors of moonshine, including fruit-flavored “Apple Pie,” barreled “Naughty Oak,” and plain “Spirit Whiskey.”  The taste of each was unexceptional to me (others invited to the tasting seemed more enthusiastic).  The problem is the intense competition:  Every boutique distillery in America seems to be making moonshine and trying to market it.

The one Flying Buck product that tickled my taste was its “Raspberry Starshine,” a cordial that, as the label here shows, combines red raspberries with herbs and spices.  There may be real prospects for it.  Although Brown-Foreman, a major liquor company,  has sold the French raspberry liqueur “Chambord” in the U.S., Gearing believes it is no longer available.  As a result the marketplace may be wide open for Raspberry Starshine.  Right now Flying Buck is attempting to get the aperitif placed in the state liquor stores of Virginia.  P.S.  I bought a bottle.

If these stories have a common theme, it is that unless one has a “deep pockets” owner like Kevin Plank, the future prospects for the great majority of boutique distilleries is problematic.  The positive side is the prospect of their bringing new and desirable spiritous products to the marketplace, just as the craft breweries have broadened the taste of Americans in the matter of beer.






















Saturday, June 8, 2019

Mike Owens and His Revolutionary Bottle Machine


On February 26, 1895, an American glassworks employee named Michael J. “Mike” Owens, shown right, was granted a patent on his machine for blowing glass and 2,000 years of making bottles went crashing into shards.  Early next year we will celebrate the 125th anniversary of that defining moment in glass manufacturing.

Glassblowing as a technique is believed to have been invented by Syrian craftsmen in the first century B.C. somewhere along the Syro-Palestinian coast.
The rise of the Roman Empire served to spread the technology to other areas and blown glass became common for household and other uses.

Over two centuries, techniques for glassblowing were tweaked but did not change significantly.  The worker attached molten glass on the end of a blowpipe and with his breath pumped air into the blob until it reached a desired shape. After the glass had cooled it was broken away from the pipe, rough edges smooth and, voila!, a bottle.

Growing up in West Virginia, Mike Owens knew a lot about blowing glass.  Born on January 1, 1859 in West Virginia, he was the son of an Irish immigrant coal miner.  Sent early to work for the family by the age of fifteen he had become a glassblower in a Wheeling, W.V., factory.   Through intelligence and hard work he advanced to a master glass worker, leaving his native state to help organize a glass company at Martins Ferry, Ohio.

Owens’ reputation reached north to Toledo, Ohio, where rich and well-born Edward Drummond Libby, left, had taken control of a glass factory and in 1888 offered him a better paying job.  His talent evident, within three months Owens was managing the glassworks department.  Several years later he approached the owner to say that he had idea for an automatic bottle machine and asked for money, time, and assistance to bring it to reality.

Many industrialists might have scoffed and told Owens to get back to work.  Libby, for whom my aunt, Nell Sullivan, was a secretary, was an enlightened entrepreneur. (Around my Toledo home we always referred to him reverentially as MR. Libby.)  He gave full backing to Owens and on February 26, 1905, the inventor was awarded Patent No. 534,840 for a glassblowing machine, the drawing shown here.  In the paperwork accompanying his application, Owens stated:  “My invention relate to an apparatus for blowing glass and has for its object to perform mechanically, what has heretofore been done manually.”

With that announcement, two centuries of making bottles by human breath came to an end, except for artisanal purposes.  By automating the manufacture of glass containers Owens helped eliminate child labor in glassworks — a practice of which he was well aware.   Two diseases were eliminated that plagued the workers, an inflammation of the aerodigestive tract and clouding of eye lenses, both resulting from exposure to hot gases.  

On the economic front, the cost of glass bottles was reduced by 80%, leading many canners, brewers and distillers, to move rapidly to machine-made containers.  At the same time, however, it left many glassblowers and their helpers unemployed since the mechanized process needed many fewer employees.

Within three years of the invention, the early Owens machine produced an estimated 105 million bottles.  As he gained experience with the process, the Irishman continued to improve on his invention, ultimately producing the “Owens
Automatic Bottle Machine.”  It is shown here, one of the rare views of the inventor with his brainchild.  This machine increased production numbers by 1915 to over one and one half BILLION bottles manufactured annually.

Owens was fortunate that Edward Drummond Libby was a man of integrity and high character.  A lesser man might have tried to marginalize the unlettered inventor and “stolen” his invention.  Libby, on the other hand, continued to encourage Owens to continue inventing, financed his efforts and advanced his name to the forefront of American industrialists.   Note Owens Bottle Machine Co. (now Owens-Illinois), Libbey-Owens Sheet Glass Co. (Libby-Owens-Ford), and Owens-Corning Fiberglass.

In 1915 the Franklin Institute of Pennsylvania awarded its coveted Elliott Cresson Metal to Owens.  Established by philanthropist Cresson in 1848, the medal was awarded annually  “for discovery or original research adding to the sum of human knowledge, irrespective of commercial value.”  Because of its “novelty and utility” the automatic bottle machine earned Owens the honor.  Seen here front and reverse is the Cresson Medal.  

As additional evidence of the importance of Owens's machine to the industry, within 20 years nearly all bottles manufactured in the United States were produced automatically.  Standardization of bottle sizes and quality led to high-speed filling capabilities by those who used the bottles.  As a result, the bottle machine had a huge impact on food, soft drink, pharmaceutical product, and alcoholic beverage producers.  Shown below are glass paperweights issued by the Owens Bottle Machine Co., depicting early glass container mechanisms.


In the summer of 1956, I worked as an intern at Owens-Illinois in Toledo, writing items for plant newspapers.  As a result I was allowed on the factory floor to see the contemporary version of the Owens machine in action.  It was an unforgettable experience.  The heat and glare of the molten glass, the long mechanical arms reaching into the inferno and scooping up an orange glob, straightening out while blowing air into the glass, dislodging it as it cooled, and ducking back for more — totally spectacular.

Mike Owens died in Toledo on December 23, 1923, at the age of 64, having revolutionized an industry.  His passing came unexpectedly. He was attending a meeting of Owens Bottle Company directors when he got up, walked a few steps, sat down in a chair, complained of feeling ill and died within 20 minutes.  He was buried in Toledo’s Catholic Calvary Cemetery, his gravesite shown here.

In a memorial booklet to Owens, Libby had this tribute:  "Self-educated as he was, a student in the process of inventions with an unusual logical ability, endowed with a keen sense of far-sightedness and vision, Mr. Owens is to be classed as one of the greatest inventors this country has ever known.”   Libby commissioned a pressed glass bust, shown below, that was given to a limited number of Owen’s relatives, colleagues and friends.

























Saturday, May 25, 2019

Giorgio Morandi and Simplicity of Form

        
In keeping with the name of this blog in past posts I have featured art works that involve images of bottles by well-known artists, including Braque, Vlaminck, Tom Wesselman, and Andy Warhol.  See the references below in “Note.”  In this post I am recognizing an artist whose reputation in large part is based on his representations of bottles and other glass, ceramic and metal vessels gathered in  his studio.  His name is Giorgio Morandi, shown here with some of the items.  Look carefully since you will see them again in some of the paintings to follow.


Morandi was born in Bologna, Italy, on July 20, 1890, the son of Andrea and Maria (Maccaferri) Morandi. The eldest of five children, Giorgio exhibited an artistic talent from an early age and in 1907 was sent to Bologna’s Academy of Find Arts where he excelled in his studies.  Tragedy was to strike twice during his youth. In 1903 his brother Guiseppe died and in 1909 his father as well, leaving a family in which the youngest child was only three.  At 19 years old Giorgio became the head of the family.

Despite these setbacks Morandi pressed ahead with his art, obtaining a position as instructor of drawing for elementary schools in Bologna, a city in which he would spend his entire life.  With 20th Century improvements in communication he early was exposed to and influenced by the art of Cezanne, Derain, Douanier Rousseau, and later Picasso. 

From Cezanne in particular Morandi understood the drama that everyday objects — vases, bottles, cup, bowls, fruit — could bring to a painting.  An early effort shown above bears distinct relationship to the French post-Impressionist master.  This effort appears classical and stiff, however, when compared to Morandi’s later efforts.  He began increasingly to focus on the subtle changes of color, of atmosphere and arrangement of objects. 

In Italian this kind of art is called “natura morta” or still life.  Morandi proved to be a master of the genre, gathering items into his studio that would be painted over and over again.  Note, for example, the tin cans in the photo of the artist.  They would appear repeatedly in his art in tandem with vases, cups and other shapes. 


As shown here, glass bottles were also objects of Morandi’s attention.  The painting below appears to have two tall wine bottles in the background, as well as a milk glass bottle that might have held a liqueur like absinthe.  Note too the carafe at the left.  The wine it contains can clearly be seen through the glass.


Morandi also was enamored of the shapes of ceramic objects, particularly the bottle or jug shape.  Shown here is a grouping of several such objects, two of them very similar in shape, usually termed by bottle collectors as “lady’s leg.”
The artist has emphasized them by backing each with an unidentifiable dark object.  Note his faint signature at the bottom of the work.


As he continued painting for more than a half century, Morandi continually refined and simplified his approach to his still life paintings.  Shown here is a artwork from the 1950s in which he has reduced his objects to five with the only curves are seen on a bottle and cup largely covered by three boxlike objects of varying colors.  Simple, but to my eye at least, one of the most sophisticated and elegant of his “natura morta.”


A prolific worker, Morandi completed an estimated 1,350 paintings during his lifetime.  Providing that he was not just “a one trick pony” with his still life output he also was a superb landscape artist, as demonstrated by the picture below.  Even then, however, the buildings shown are reminiscent of the boxes above.


As a lifelong resident of Bologna, Morandi was a well recognized figure in his home town.  He never married, living on Via Fordazza all his life with his three sisters.   He died on June 18, 1964 and is buried in a family tomb at Bologna’s Certosa Cemetery.   His reputation in the art world has continued to be strong, with major exhibitions this century at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brussels Center for Fine Arts.  His work is on continuous display at the Giorgio Morandi Museum in Bologna. 

Note:  Other posts on this blog that have featured bottles in art are the following:  Andy Warhol, January 28, 2011; George Braque, July 20, 2013; Tom Wesselman, December 7, 2013, and Maurice de Vlaminck, January 18, 2014.




















Sunday, May 12, 2019

Looking into Beer Pocket Mirrors

      
The invention of celluloid in 1872, the first commercial plastic, opened up new avenues for advertising.  One was the pocket mirror, a small device with a shiny metal surface on one side and a multicolored ad on the back.   The American brewing industry was quick to see the advantages of giving these to customers as a means of keeping their brands in mind.  The vast majority of these were issued pre-National Prohibition and thus have entered — or soon will — the definition of “antiques.”

An example of the artistry pocket mirrors display is the Native American in a feathered headdress that graces an artifact advertising Ryan’s Pure Beers.  This brewery was founded in 1865 at the end of the Civil War.  In 1887 Thomas Ryan, the former mayor of Syracuse, New York, became the sole owner of the brewery and changed its name to his own, operating it until 1900 when he sold out to local brewer Charles Hoffmann.  Hoffman kept the Ryan name on the facility until closed down by Prohibition. 

Equally impressive art work adorned a mirror issued by the Olt Brewing Company of Dayton, Ohio.  It is an angel surrounded by hops and wheat holding aloft a wand in one hand and a stein of beer in the other.  John Olt and his four sons, Charles, Frederick, Edward and Oscar, incorporated the Olt Brewing company in 1907.  By 1912 Olt Brewing employed seventy people and annually produced about 35,000 barrels of beer and ale.  Originally incorporated for $50,000 in 1907, the value had increased to over $180,000 before Prohibition closed it.

The Falstaff Brewing Corporation was a major American brewery located in St. Louis, Missouri.  With roots in the 1838 Lemp Brewery, the company was renamed after the Shakespearan character Sir John Falstaff in 1903.  The figure of the fat knight came to dominate the advertising for the brewery.  The brewing company closed in 1921, and sold its Falstaff brand to a firm that survived Prohibition by selling near beer and hams under the Falstaff name.  

In the fall of 1897, J. Henry Zitt of Chicago traveled to Lexington to investigate the possibility of establishing a brewery.  He liked what he saw in economic prosperity and population growth and by 1898 had erected a splendid new brewery.  The cost of the brewery was $150,000 (equiv. today to $3.3 million.) In excess of one million bricks were used in its construction.  The Lexington Brewing Company annual capacity was 40,000 barrels or roughly 600,000 cases.   Given the identification of Lexington with horse racing, the image on the mirror seems highly appropriate.


Occasionally, a brewer would provide a mirror that was a “tie-in” to a larger ad campaign, as demonstrated by this Utica Club brew from the West End Brewing Company in the New York city.  Utica Club's most famous campaign icons were a pair of character beer steins  "Schultz and Dooley.”
The mirror depicts only Schultz, a German, with a mustache and Prussian spiked helmet.  Beer steins with these two characters regularly sell for more than $1,000 at auction.

It was common for brewers to display a bottle of their flagship brand on the mirror back, as shown in the next four examples.  The Adam Scheidt Brewing Company originated in a Norristown, Pennsylvania, facility about 1866.  After a series of ownerships.  Scheidt would go on to become one of the largest brewers in the region, producing 60,000 barrels of beer a year, and had a branch location in Baltimore.  Its flagship, appropriately, was the Valley Forge Special. 

While Scheidt’s beer boasted of “unsurpassed quality,”  the Mathie Brewing Company touted its flagship “Red Ribbon” brew as:  “The beer that costs no more but tastes like more.”  Founded in 1903, this organization was located on East Main Street in Los Angeles said to be a “mammoth establishment.”  The beer sold throughout California and adjoining states until the brewery was shut down by Prohibition in 1920.  After Repeal it re-opened briefly before closing for good.

George Muehlebach immigrated to Kansas City, Missouri, in 1859.  A decade later he bought an existing brewery, razed it and and replaced it with a "Beer Castle" built in Romanesque style with a mansard roof  tower.  Muehlebach’s beer proved very popular and the company survived during Prohibition by selling non-alcoholic beverages.  During World War II, the brewery more than doubled production from 66,000 barrels a year to 161,000, before eventually being sold to Schlitz.

Although King’s Pure Malt was sold as a tonic for “to assist the stomach to retain and digest food” and “enrich the blood and strengthen the system,” it was, in fact, a variety of beer, containing six percent alcohol.  Founded in 1908 in Boston,  King added hydrophosphates of iron and lime to the brew to lend it a medicinal character.  It too may have fallen victim to Prohibition, closing about 1918.

The final pocket mirror here is from a drinking establishment not a brewery.  It is included here not just because of its interesting picture of St. Paul’s Budweiser Tavern, indicating a saloon tied to the St. Louis brewery.  This item sold at auction in December 2018 for $127.27, signaling the value that some pocket mirrors have accrued over time.  Every indication is that as th years pass prices will continue to advance, especially for those issued pre-Prohibition and still in good condition.  For example, the mirror with the Indian image that opens this post was valued at $550 in a 2002 catalogue.