Friday, March 5, 2021

 HOLLISTER & CO., HONOLULU

 

Hawaiian bottles are about as ‘western’ as possible when it comes to the U.S. Admittedly, some parts of Alaska are actually farther west but that doesn’t count when it comes to the presence and use of bottles. Hawaii’s trade and commerce was worldwide since the whaling industry was the first to put it on the global market. The proximity to California, and its commercial evolution after the gold rush, favored a strong trade between Western and Eastern hemispheres. This can be most readably witnessed today by reviewing the old Hawaiian newspapers, which contain a preponderance of advertisements for goods and services based in San Francisco.

 One Hawaiian company that took advantage of San Francisco’s manufacturing interests is familiar in the soda water bottles they used. Hollister & Company first emerged in Honolulu in the late 1860’s under the name of Hollister & Hyland – a partnership consisting of Henry R. Hollister and Philip G. Hyland. These two New Englanders first advertised their business of tobacco merchants in 1869. The earliest documentation of the firm of Hollister & Hyland was an advertisement for their company selling a variety of tobacco products, and with a small notation that “Soda Water always on hand ! In siphon or Soda Bottles.” (The Hawaiian Gazette, 25 August 1869)


 

This 1869 advertisement indicates that in the beginning the business interest of Hollister & and Hyland was primarily tobacco products.

 It has yet to be determined when Hollister & Hyland first ordered their embossed bottles from a San Francisco glass works but it is assumed that it was probably about 1869, when their partnership was created. Simply embossed H & H / HONOLULU, these bottles are relatively rare, and for good reason. The Hollister & Hyland partnership, which seemed to have been flourishing quite well, came to an abrupt end with the death of Philip Hyland in 1871.

 


An exceptional dark aqua example of the H & H soda water bottle. It would have been produced between the years of 1869 to 1871. (Collection of Randal Omon)

 

An article in the  Hawaiian Gazette, June 7, 1871, gives a rather detailed account of Hyland's tragic death:

 On Monday of last week, at 9 o’clock P.M., while making a passage to Hilo in the Kate Lee, Mr. G. P. Hyland, of the firm of Hollister & Hyland, Tobacconists and Soda Manufacturers, fell overboard and was drowned, when the vessel was about fifteen miles from that port.  Mr. Hyland, it seems, had been for some time suffering from ill health, and had undertaken the trip to Hilo with the hope that it might benefit him.  Capt. West, of the Kate Lee, discovered on the evening in question that Mr. Hyland was suffering from an aberration of mind, being impressed with the idea that a person on board had intentions upon his life.  Capt. West said all he could to calm his fears, assuring him that he would protect him, and used every persuasion to induce him to go into the cabin, but without effect.  The Captain, on going into the cabin temporarily, gave orders to those on deck to keep strict watch on Mr. Hyland,.  Only a few minutes had elapsed after going below, when he heard the cry of “Man overboard!” and rushing immediately upon deck he saw Mr. Hyland struggling in the water, a short distance from the vessel.  One of the crew immediately jumped overboard for the purpose of assisting the unfortunate man in keeping on the surface until a boat could be sent to his rescue.  The man was, however, unable to effect his object, owing to the fact that the drowning man struggled so violently that he could not retain his hold upon him without imminent risk of his own life, and although a boat was lowered with every dispatch, when it arrived at the spot where Mr. Hyland was last seen, it was found that he had disappeared.  It is supposed that Mr. H., who was sitting on the rail of the vessel when last seen on board, fell overboard during an epileptic fit, to attacks of which he was subject.

 

The rather strange reported actions of Hyland suggest he was suffering from some sort of physical or mental malady – or perhaps both. Either way it was a disastrous circumstance.

 Hyland’s partner, Henry R. Hollister, gave official notice of the dissolution of the partnership on June 8, 1871, with the actual dissolution date of May 30, 1871, the day after Hyland’s demise. Therefore, it is fairly certain that the H & H soda bottles would not have been blown after this date.

 


Hollister continued in the tobacco trade, along with soda water, until 1880, when he also opened a drug store as well. This would account for the numerous prescription type bottles with the name of Hollister & Co. embossed. His son-in-law, Henry A. Parmalee, was the silent partner.

 

 

 


One of the many old blob top Hollister & Co. bottles, of which there are several minor variants. On the earliest variant the area once carrying the "H & H" embossing is still visible. They are also found in an array of colors in a range of greens and light blue, but those colors have rarely made it to mainland collections. Note the curved leg on the letter ‘R’, a nearly sure sign the bottles were blown in San Francisco.

 

Just as with most bottlers of soda water, Hollister & Co., had the age old problem of diminishing supplies of their bottles. This advertisement of 1880 underscores the issue. (The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, (Honolulu, HI) July 24, 1880).

 

The earliest photo located showing the Hollister soda works in Honolulu.

 

The gravitating stopper variant of the Hollister & Co. bottle is one of the rarer of bottle styles used. (Collection of Kimo Legsay)

 

 

Hollister & Co. continued to prosper throughout the 1880’s and well into the 90’s. However, primary emphasis changed over time with the tobacconist element shifting to secondary status under the drug business. This 1884 advertisement underscores the increased importance of the drug business for Hollister & Co. It also gives some insight to the use of patent stoppered bottles, and shows various styles were being used simultaneously. The patent stoppers used by Hollister included the Mathews gravitating stopper (bottle pictured above), the Hutchinson wire stopper, and the British Codd stopper.

 

Hollister & Co. incorporated in 1894, thereby changing its name to the Hollister Drug Co. By any reasonable assessment, any bottles produced by the company after this date should no longer be embossed with the previous company name, using the ampersand. (The Daily Bulletin (Honolulu, HI) February 26, 1894)

 To confuse this issue somewhat, the tobacco arm of the Hollister conglomerate remained and continued under the name of Hollister & Co. until April 30, 1900 (The Hawaiian Star, Honolulu, HI, May 5, 1900). 



After a challenging, fascinating and successful life, Henry Hollister died in Honolulu, Hawaii, on May 12, 1896. Evening Bulletin (Honolulu, HI) May 12, 1896. His obituary touches upon adventures that could be located nowhere else.

 

I won’t even begin to tackle the myriad of mold variations of the Hollister bottles. I will leave that to the primary source of information on Hawaiian bottles by Rex Elliott and Stephen C. Gould (1988)

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

 

STOCKTON’S PORT WINE BITTERS

 

He was the son of Nathaniel Hiram Stockton, born in Tennessee November 6, 1818, and Mary Lynn. N. H. Stockton married Mary on October 17, 1852, in Watsonville, California, and resided near Santa Cruz, California, where their six children were born. Their oldest son, William Walter Stockton, was born in Santa Cruz on June 30, 1857. He then moved with his family to San Jose in 1862, where N. H. Stockton engaged in viticulture. W.W. Stockton was to graduate from San Jose State Normal School, which was established as a teacher’s college and is known today as San Jose State University.

 By March 1882, W.W. Stockton entered into a partnership with fellow San Jose resident, Lewis B. Wilson. Stockton opened a wine store in San Jose and Wilson opened a branch store in Grass Valley.

 Stockton’s short lived partnership with Lewis B. Wilson ended when Wilson was declared insolvent in Grass Valley. Wilson then returned to San Jose where he immersed himself in education, receiving his certificate to teach school. He eventually became vice-president of San Jose State College. Wilson married Alice Blythe in San Jose on January 10, 1883.  Wilson died in San Jose on 16 May 1924. Meanwhile W. W. Stockton married Sacramento native, Mary A. Gay in San Jose on August 12, 1882.

 W.W. Stockton wasted no time in creating a new business under the name of W.W. Stockton & Co. This was most certainly a business formed for the purpose of selling wines, etc., from his father’s own extensive vineyards, and soon included his Port Wine Bitters.

 

 

Stockton's Port Wine Bitters bottle.

 

The original label for Stockton's Port Wine Bitters, included with his trade mark registration for the brand, deposited with the California Secretary of State as trade mark Number 971 on April 9, 1883.
 


 As would be expected in the relatively small town of San Jose, the local newspaper gave notice to a promising new business by a well respected resident. (San Jose Mercury-news, 28 April 1883 )

 

 

A newspaper ad for his bitters, it originally incorporated the word “MALVOISIE” which represented the initial grape variety used to compound the product. (San Jose Mercury-News, April 17, 1883) 

 

 

An interesting news byte noting the original art work for Stockton’s Malvoise Bitters was being displayed in the window of Rhode’s drug store in San Jose.  (San Jose Mercury-News, April 7, 1883) 

 

By June 1883 the word MALVOISE was no longer used in his ads. This action, which is not completely explained, may be because of the varietal grape choices his father had made in his vineyards, which is where the juice was derived for Stockton’s Port Wine Bitters.

 


Stockton’s advertisements for his bitters soon dropped the reference to the Malvoisie grape probably represented a switch to the use of the more abundant Zinfandel grape from the much larger vineyards of his father’s Madera properties. (San Jose Mercury-News, June 17, 1883)  

 

The malvoisie grape, or malvasia in Italian, is a European species of the Vitus vinifera family, (aka Vitus vinifera “Cinsaut”) It has been commonly used in the production of port wines for many generations, and was a freely planted grape in the early orchards of California, especially Napa and San Jose. As different grape varieties became better tested in the new California geography, it was noted that the Malvoisie grape was not as hardy as first expected and fell out of favor by the early 1880’s.

 

All documentation located indicated a successful business venture that was to be an excellent financial success to both Stockton and the city of San Jose. (San Jose Herald, March 19, 1884) 

 

Much of Stockton’s success should be put squarely on the shoulders of his father, N. H.  Stockton, who was producing huge amounts of grapes.

 

Nathaniel Stockton’s Live Oak Vineyard became a model for the newly emerging viticulture that once rivaled its counterpart in Napa County. While Stockton was a successful grape grower he looked enviously toward the area of Fresno County where the climate was much more to his liking. 

 

Retaining his successful Live Oak Vineyard, N. H. Stockton later purchased as much as 640 acres in the warmer San Joaquin Valley and planted a large portion of it in grapes as well. He had been particularly critical of the milder, and wetter, climate of the San Jose ValleyStockton also established a house and winery at his Madera property.

 

A letterhead from N.H. Stockton, documenting his vineyards in Madera, Fresno County, California, In 1893 Madera became the county seat of the newly formed Madera County, reducing the size of Fresno County

 

 

It is clear from this newspaper advertisement that N.H. Stockton, and his son, W.W. Stockton, had a close relationship in the spirits and bitters business.   (San Jose Mercury-News, December 18, 1883) 

 

 

 

This somewhat close father / son relationship between W.W. Stockton and his father becomes even clearer with this IOU, on W.W. Stockton’s letterhead, with both father and son’s signature.    

 

The successful business of N. H. Stockton, and the newly emerging business of his son, W.W. Stockton, and his Port Wine Bitters, all came to an abrupt end when the senior Stockton died at his ranch in Madera on June 30, 1884.

 

W. W. Stockton, was the only surviving male sibling, along with his four sisters, when their father died. W.W. Stockton became the executor of his father’s rather large estate after N.H. Stockton’s wife, Mary Stockton, gave up her first right as executor. It took six years to finally complete the probate process which consumed much of his time. It is apparent that Stockton ceased producing his Port Wine Bitters and closed the wine and liquor store in San Jose which was considered part of his father’s estate.

 

Stockton sold his liquor business in May 1885, which by that time was only advertising Thistle Dew Whiskey. From that date he no longer was involved in liquor sales.

 

Not staying idle, Stockton soon exposed his inquisitive side. He had a great fascination for the properties of electro-magnetic energy and spent some time with the development of a telephone. He was noted as being the co-developer of a new type of highly efficient telephone transmission. (San Jose Herald, March 2, 1885) After an extensive interview with Stockton about his new invention, the local newspaper illuminated predictions about this new modern field.  “Mr. Stockton has given several years of careful study and systematic experiments to electrical science, studying the best textbooks obtainable and keeping informed on the progress made in the world through valuable sources as the Electrical World, Scientific American, Electrical Review and similar papers.  “And yet,” he remarked, “although what the world knows to-day about electricity would fill many books, what the world does not know to-day about it would fill a vastly greater number; and we are now on the threshold of a century in which there will be such discoveries and applications of known principles made as are too wonderful to contemplate.  One hundred years or so hence people will navigate the air by electrical force, will see a friend a hundred or a thousand miles away.  The refrangibility of light, refractive power of lenses, etc., will be so affected by electro-magnetic action that telescopes will be made powerful enough to show every pebble in the planets, and so will other wonderful results, ad infinitum, be obtained through the agency of this wonderful form of energy, electricity.”

 

Not overlooking more traditional innovations, in December 1885 Stockton and G. Phelps patented a yoke for double team draft animals. (draft yoke or bar for double teams,  Patent Number 332,366, filed July 29, 1885) Later that year he went to Mexico to superintend the installation of an electric light plant. (San Jose Mercury News, December 17, 1885)  By 1887 he was noted as a “constructing electrician” for the Risdon Iron Works of San Francisco (San Jose Mercury News, August 19, 1887). He remained in San Francisco for the next several years where the city directory lists him as an electrician.

 

The remaining stock of Port Wine Bitters was being sold by secondary parties as late as 1890 at THE FAMILY WINE AND LIQUOR STORE, in San Jose – at a reduced price of 35 cents per bottle, and noted as 11 years old. (San Jose Herald, February 28, 1890) By 1892 it was being sold at $1.00 for 5 bottles.

 

Stockton briefly moved to Niles, Alameda County, about 1890, where the voting register notes his occupation as an accountant. From that date he is no longer documented in California but probably stayed there until about 1894.

 

By 1891 Stockton left Niles and became somewhat aloof in his whereabouts, even though Mary Stockton, his wife, born as Mary Albertine Gay, remained in San Francisco and engaged in a variety of odd jobs to support herself. She even bore a child, Mary Arlene Stockton on August 22, 1893. It is assumed that her father was W.W. Stockton, even though Arlene’s death certificate notes her father was “Frank Stockton”. This is likely an error.  By 1895 the San Francisco city directories simply listed Stockton’s wife as a widow, which was a common descriptor for a woman who had no husband, for reasons including death, divorce and abandonment. She had relocated to Chicago, Illinois, by 1900 and eventually moved to Michigan, where she married John Herman Hensen in Grand Rapids, on April 11, 1938, at the age of 74 years. She died in Kalamazoo on January 24, 1946.

 

W. W. Stockton clearly determined to make another life changing move and was found next in Maricopa County, Arizona, in the voting register, when he signed up to vote on September 29, 1894, in Gila Bend, Arizona. He apparently had decided to stay in the area for awhile. Local newspapers periodically made note of his prospecting and mining activities in Arizona Territory.

William Walker Stockton died on December 24, 1901, at Castle Creek Hot Springs, Yavapai, Arizona. The only signed affidavit from the inquest of his death, except for the Coroners Jury final determination, was from William “Billy” Walker, a well known chef who went to work at the Castle Creek Hotel about 1899, according to a newspaper article. (Prescott Arizona Weekly Journal Miner, October 4, 1899) As an aside, in 1909 Walker, was arrested for an assault with a deadly weapon – a heavy beer glass, that he threw at Joe Bush in McDonough’s Saloon in Globe, Arizona. (The Daily Silver Belt, Globe, Arizona, July 21, 1909.

The Arizona probate court determined that although Stockton had an undivided interest in the Prosperity, Oro Grande, and Rich Rock mining claims in the Castle Creek Mining District of Yavapai County, Arizona, they were not sufficiently developed to have any true value, and probate was closed on February 2, 1903. 

In cases where deaths were either suspicious or unknown, Arizona law required that the coroner name a panel of six jurors that would look into, and attempt to determine, the cause of death. The Billy Walker inquest deposition for Stockton notes he had been drinking heavily, went to bed and died in his sleep.

 

The final result as determined by the Coroners’ jury was that Stockton had died from apoplexy (stroke). To say the least, it was a bit of a shock to note the signature of Maxfield Parrish as a member of the Coroner’s jury, as noted in this document.

 

Names of the Coroner’s jury:

Oren A. Ensign: jury foreman and miner in Castle Creek District

Charles M. Calhoun: Manager of Hot Springs, beginning in 1898

Maxfield Parrish: Artist – see below.

John Deck: Miner: Killed in a mining accident at Tip Top, Yavapai County, in 1905.

Charles E. Stuart: A pioneer painting contractor of Phoenix.

Thomas M. Kerr: He was a successful freighter operating in Yavapai County.

 

Maxfield Parrish, and his new bride, Lydia, visited Hot Springs in the winter of 1901-1902. He had been suffering from the effects of tuberculosis and jumped at the chance to accept an offer by The Century Magazine to visit the Southwest, and create pictures for a series of articles. He created a total of 19 paintings while staying at Castle Creek Hot Springs, considered Arizona’s first springs resort. It was here that Parrish first employed the intense blue that he experienced in the Western skies, which became a hallmark of many of his paintings. Little else need be stated about Parrish, as he is so well known, except this hidden fact about his Coroner’s jury obligation which has not previously been documented to my knowledge. The story how he was selected for the jury is a story that will probably never be discovered.

 

 

The Maxfield Parrish print, Daybreak, first produced in 1922, was the most popular, and recognizable print of the twentieth century. The original painting was sold in 2006, for $7.6 million, to the wife of actor, Mel Gibson. It was again sold in 2010, at a loss – for $5.2 million.

 

Eric McGuire 

Monday, January 18, 2021

 

PARK, EBERHARD WILLIAM

 

At times certain individuals are encountered who determined to market a bottled product but have little known history for such a venture. Eberhard William Park was just such an individual. When he arrived in California is somewhat of a mystery, however, he is likely the same Park noted in the 1858 San Francisco Directory as Edward W. Park, a newspaper carrier. A native of Mecklenburg, Prussia, he was born December 3, 1828. The 1860 U.S. census for San Francisco, also lists him as a newspaper carrier but notes his real estate holdings are worth $15,000, and a personal estate valued at $3000. This is a significant amount for a newspaper carrier.  The 1863 and1864 IRS tax list notes his yearly income was $1867, which was also considerable for a newspaper carrier.

 Park’s occupation, as noted in the city directories was a newspaper carrier until 1872 and 1873, when none was given. In the 1874 directory he is noted as president of the California Hyde (sic) and Leather Co., but in 1875 no occupation is given. This business was incorporated in 1872 with Park being one of three trustees. (Daily Alta California, November 5, 1872).  The company can no longer be documented after 1875.

 In 1876, what was likely the source of his primary income all along, his occupation is noted as “real estate” in the San Francisco directory. By 1879 his real estate earnings were significant enough for him to be listed as a “capitalist”, which is an apex for a directory listing.  Again, it is not clear how Park acquired his property, however, he owned a total of four blocks in the Mission District. ( Real Estate Reporter of the Pacific Coast, San Francisco, Calif., April 25, 1874)

 His directory listing for 1880 probably reflects the occupation he chose to fill his time, which was the proprietor of the Park House at the Northeast corner of 24th and Mission Streets in San Francisco. This would be essentially across the street from his residence.

 

A necessary feature of the Park House was a good cook, especially one who could bake bread.  This ad exemplifies one of the issues of running a hostelry. (Daily Alta California, June 25, 1882)

Parks demise was noted in newspapers just a year later. “E. W. Park, aged 55, died suddenly last night from the effects of excitement produced by a quarrel with a customer at his bar.  He had been suffering from paralysis of the heart.” (Morning Tribune, San Luis Obispo, July 13, 1883)  He died July 12, 1883.  Another version noted, . . . “His place was visited about nine o’clock by a drunken man, who created a disturbance, and in the process of ejecting him, Park became unnerved.  He lay down in bed and died within a few moments.” (San Francisco Bulletin, July 13, 1883)

 Park’s wife, Mary Doherty Park, died December 15, 1888. There were four surviving children remaining to deal with the estate, and with their daughter, Hildegard Park, being the administrix. The estate was estimated at $100,000, a fairly hefty sum at the time. However, the real estate, which was the majority of the value, was heavily mortgaged.

 

 

 

The Park House property was sold by Eberhard’s widow, Mary Park.  This description gives an idea of its extent. (Daily Alta California, November 5, 1883)

 

What motivated Park to develop and produce a medicinal product that he claimed, “will make you young again”, is a mystery. Perhaps it was just wishful thinking on his part, however, one can only assume that his goal was to make at least some profit gain on his medicine. No newspaper advertisements were located even though they should have been an essential business practice for medicinal sales at that time. He registered the name of his medicine, ESSENTIA NOBILIS, with the California Secretary of State, under the trade mark laws of California, on January 15, 1879, as Trademark No. 471. Its meaning from the Latin would be “noble essence”. Park also ordered bottles for his medicine from the San Francisco and Pacific Glass Works, with the name embossed in the glass. Examples are extremely rare with perhaps only three or four known to collectors.

 

An example of E.W. PARK’S ESSENTIA NOBILIS bottle. It is large, being about 9.75 inches in height, and holding approximately one quart. One can’t help but wonder if he also served his medicine in the bar at his Park House.

 

 

 

The label for PARK’S ESSENTIA NOBILIS was deposited with his trademark registration, and shown here. It may be the only extant copy of this rare piece of San Francisco history.

 

Also note that a carte de visite photograph of E.W. Park is currently located at findagrave.com as part of his gravesite memorial.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

 MANSFIELD THE DRUGGIST


There is a story behind every bottle, which even includes the rather large classification of what is commonly called prescription, or drug store, bottles. It seems that just like the local saloon, many corner drug stores also created identifiable bottles associated with their business. The pictured item is just one example. I chose to put it on this blog because of where the story led me, which is somewhat unusual.

 Documenting the history of the people who had certain bottles created is the essence of discovering the meaning of the objects within the greater web of history. But it is not unusual to find little or nothing on the lives of some individuals. Such is the case with William Mansfield, the originator of the pictured drug store bottle. His bottle was made to compound, bottle, and sell at least some of his liquid prescriptions to the public.

 

 

The Mansfield bottle is round, 6.5 inches in height, with a tooled flared out lip, and composed of clear glass, with smooth base. All embossing is located within what appears to be a circular slug plate on the side of the bottle, embossed, M. MANSFIELD / CHEMIST & DRUGGIST / 320 SANTA CLARA ST / SAN JOSE CAL.

 Based on newspaper ads, it is well established that Mansfield had previously been living in Petaluma, California, and it is highly likely that he was plying the trade of a pharmacist in that town. Unfortunately, he could not be located in the 1870 decennial  U.S. census, which could have given us significant clues about his age, location of birth and possible family connections. It appears, therefore, that he was not living in Petaluma in 1870.

 John R.Williams and Henry H. Moore formed a partnership in the pharmacy trade at Stockton, CA, in May1865, purchasing the existing drug store of Robert Porterfield, who died just a month later on June 28, 1865, in Sonora, CA. Williams & Moore also traded heavily in the patent medicine business, which appeared to be quite lucrative for them. In 1872 they struck a deal with David Dodge Tomlinson, of San Jose, whereby they purchased the rights to manufacture and sell Tomlinson’s HHH Horse Medicine in the Western states, which soon became highly successful.  At the same time Williams & Moore had established a branch drug store in San Jose by at least April 1872, at 320 Santa Clara St.

 Williams & Moore decided to focus more of their time on the sale of the highly successful HHH Horse Medicine and put their San Jose store up for sale. William Mansfield purchased the drug store of Williams & Moore, in San Jose, in December 1872. He likely had his bottles blown shortly thereafter. His business appears to have been run successfully during 1873, and he even purchased a coveted, and expensive, front cover advertising spot for the upcoming 1874 San Jose business directory.


 William Mansfield's residence in Petaluma has yet to be documented, however, it does appear that he worked there before coming to San Jose. (San Jose Mercury-News, 21 December 1872)

 Then something bizarre occurred when Mansfield disappeared about the first week of April 1874, failing to return from a trip to San Francisco. To this day, no further information has been uncovered that would explain his absence.

Mansfield's disappearance was noted in newspapers only once, then the story went cold. 
 (
San Jose Mercury-News, 11 April 1874)

 

As is the case for many businesses, Mansfield carried at least some debt, especially to the wholesale San Francisco drug firm of Abrams & Carroll – for the amount of  $4,000. They immediately filed foreclosure on Mansfield’s store and hired the well known San Jose druggist John B. Hewson to temporarily manage the store, which was also renamed the Garden City Drug Store. By September of that year the store was purchased by Henry Piessnecker, who had moved his drug business from Inyo County. Piessnecker operated the store until he died on 24 April 1880.

 Because of the unusual disappearance of Wm. Mansfield, it is possible to very tightly establish the manufacturing date of his drugstore bottle from about December 1872 to April 1874, a period of about 16 months. While it is an accomplishment to document the age of a bottle there is a lingering sense of angst in not being able to uncover more about the man who created it.

 



Wednesday, December 16, 2020

 A LOOK AT THE EARLY SAN FRANCISCO GLASS WORKS

 

The year of 1860 was a truly historical milestone for the early manufacture of glass in San Francisco, including the entire West Coast. The partnership of Francis Cutting and Augustus Baker had already produced a small amount of pickle bottles by late in 1859 but, with no experience in glass making, this attempt was extremely challenging for them. The reject rate for passable bottles must have been quite high but it appears that Baker was still optimistic about success. Judging from Baker leaving their partnership in the pickle business, and forming a separate partnership in the California Glass Works, with Cutting, it would appear that both were still hoping the venture would work but Cutting was not willing to impact the assets of the pickle business if the glass works venture failed.

 

Daily Alta California, January 3, 1860



The only known intact specimen of the Baker and Cutting pickle jar, blown in 1859.



A surprisingly large number of the Baker & Cutting pickle bottles have been excavated over the years, except all but one have been found in pieces.

The partners earnestly continued their quest for a successful glass works in an environment that was new to such a venture. Expertise was not easy to find in California and their search for competent glass blowers was extended as far away as Wheeling, Virginia.

 

After a month of trials Baker and Cutting placed this advertisement in The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer of Wheeling, Virginia. The ad ran for most of February and March 1860.

It is not known if the plea for experienced bottle blowers was successful, but it is evident that Francis Cutting became weary of the mounting expenses involved in getting the glass works to a point of success. He apparently decided to cut his losses and ended his partnership with Baker in the San Francisco Glass Works at the end of February 1860.

 

                                                 Daily Alta California, March 5, 1860

To say that A.D. Baker is not well documented in the record while he was operating the San Francisco Glass Works is an understatement, as newspaper information about this new and important California venture is quite scarce. The attempt to produce good glass for the bottling of their food products finally caused Francis Cutting to abandon the project as noted by the dissolution of their partnership in the glass works on February 29, 1860. Baker continued on his own, and whether he was ready to operate a fully functioning glass works as a profitable venture is a cause for speculation – but he decided to open for business anyway in early March 1860. This was most likely a move of desperation, for surely, he was heavily in debt at this point. Regardless, in the next few weeks Baker produced a number of historically significant bottles, most of which were not lettered, which does make it difficult to identify them. Just three embossed medicine bottles were found in the wastage area of the works in such a quantity as to assume that they had to have been blown at this factory.







 


Photos of some of the bottle types found in the 'wastage area' of the San Francisco Glass Works, including liquor, insulators, soda and wine bottles. The last two pictures includes a batch of glass sand ready for the furnace. It includes selected frit, mostly lighter colored broken bottles, which act as a flux in the melting process. The last photo shows the side wall of a furnace pot along with a batch just beginning to melt.


A.D. Baker’s opening of his San Francisco Glass Works occurred on March 6, 1860. He advertised the sale of “WINE, SODA, PICKLE, And most kinds of BOTTLES, TELEGRAPH INSULATORS, etc.” (Daily Alta California, March 11, 1860) 


 Probably in a move of desperation to garner some operating capital, Baker advertised for sale three tons of fire clay. This would have been product to be used in the construction of pots for melting glass. (Daily Alta California, April 6, 1860)

 

The terminal date of the San Francisco Glass Works under the direction of Augustus Baker was almost certainly near the end of April 1860, with a total run of almost two months.

 The exit from San Francisco by A.D. Baker was unceremonious to say the least. Based solely on a small newspaper article containing a confusing error, it is clear that Baker skipped town due to mounting debts that he could not pay. The noted error, shown in the actual article below, states Baker as the proprietor of the San Francisco Iron Works, instead of the San Francisco Glass Works. This can be well documented as an error since no person by the name of Baker was ever noted as the proprietor of the San Francisco Iron Works. And, further, the San Francisco Iron Works was not even established until 1865.

 

There is some indication that Baker may have left for Australia for several years but it has not been proven to be the same A.D. Baker.  (Sacramento Daily Union, April 26, 1860)

 

The article notes that the buyer of the San Francisco Glass Works was Lucien Bell, who was obviously a victim of fraud, and who apparently was a novice at making such a purchase. Lucien Bell is non-existent in San Francisco in 1860, or any other time,  but there was a tea broker listed in the SF directory for that year named Lucius Bell. First noted in San Francisco as early as 1852, he initially worked for his brothers-in-law, the Goodman Brothers, who were general commission merchants. Bell later partnered with Washington Elliot as grocers in San Francisco in 1858 and 1859. He was apparently not a good money manager and had to file for insolvency in both previous businesses. Then, in 1860, he was a tea broker, which was his last business listing in San Francisco. If the article shown above is correct, and Baker did sell his heavily indebted business to Bell, this event must have been a heavy financial burden on Bell, and Baker likely wasted no time in removing himself from San Francisco.  In fact, to further document Baker’s removal from San Francisco, 12 cases of pipe clay in the name of A.D. Baker were auctioned off to pay for unclaimed freight in July 1860. (Daily Alta California, July 11, 1860)

 Bell was discharged from his debts in April 1860, probably due to the unusual circumstances of being duped by Baker. (San Joaquin Republican, April 20, 1860). Unfortunately,  Lucius Bell found himself in the same predicament about a year later when he filed for bankruptcy and his assets were ordered to be sold. (Daily Alta California, April 14, 1861) Bell then moved to Napa for a few years and then, about 1865, moved back East to Brooklyn, New York, where he died on November 18, 1906. He was buried in Rochester, New York.

 As fate would have it the brother of Sarah L. Bell, the wife of Lucius Bell, was a wealthy banker named James Harvey Goodman. He left a trust fund to Bell’s wife in the amount of $136, 800, which passed to her upon Goodman’s death in 1891. (Napa Register, April 24, 1891) After a long history of business failures in both California and New York, his wife finally brought some financial stabilization to the family, and Bell retired from business.

 In some way, whether through a court ordered sale, or some other unknown conveyance, the San Francisco Glass Works that had become virtually abandoned by its owners, must have passed to someone. The next name in the written historical record that is associated with its name, is J. Lambert. The most likely candidate would be Joseph Lambert, who was also experiencing some difficult employment issues in 1860.

 A newspaper article fairly secures his full name: “ OFFICERS OF THE ALTA CALIFORNIA TELEGRAPH COMPANY.- An annual meeting of the Alta California Telegraph Company was held at their office in this city last evening, and the following elected officers: W. W. Welty, President; J.M. McDonald, Superintendent; J.W. Coleman, Secretary; R.H. McDonald, C.H. Swift, John Pattison and Joseph Lambert, Directors”.(Sacramento Daily Union, September 7, 1858)

 Likely the same Joseph Lambert is listed in the 1859 SF directory as “Lambert, Joseph, telegraph, bds, Hotel International.” 

 The telegraph company was hit with what was likely its death blow in mid-1860. “Morse et al. vs The Alta Telegraph Co. et al  - A suit has been commenced in the U.S. Circuit Court by S.F.B. Morse, F. O. J. Smith, Theodore Little, and George T. Cobb, residents of various Eastern States, against the Alta Telegraph Company, Jas. M. McDonald and Joseph Lambert, of this State, to restrain them from using Morse’s telegraphic patent, to compel them to account for profits which they have made by its use, and to require them to pay damages done to plaintiffs by its use. The argument in the case is to be heard on the 19th inst.” (Daily Alta California, June 12, 1860)

 J. Lambert was the operating agent of the Alta Telegraph Company for San Francisco in 1860, and as a member of the reporter’s union, was one of those who welcomed the first Pony Express rider of the Overland Pony Express. (Daily Alta California, April 13, 1860). A week later a newspaper advertisement documented that Lambert had been selected as the San Francisco agent for the new Pony Express service. (Daily Alta California, April 20, 1860, p. 4)



 August of 1860 is the earliest that the glass works of Lambert & Co. had successfully produced glass, with the silica component coming primarily from the extensive quartz deposits near Folsom. The absence of the darker elements, as found in most sand grains, would, theoretically produce a very light colored batch. Perhaps the most difficult part of using quartz rock would be grinding it finely enough to easily melt and thoroughly mix with the other ingredients of soda and lime, as well as the frit.

 

News article explaining Lambert’s testing and using quartz for use in glass making. (Sacramento Daily Union, August 16, 1860)

 

But, how do we know that the J. Lambert noted above, is the same person who operated the San Francisco Glass Works, after the exit of A.D. Baker? One small news article mentioning a display of bottles at the Mechanic’s Institute Fair by the San Francisco Glass Works, includes its business address as 153 Montgomery Street. This address is the same as that of Joseph Lambert for his business office.

 

 (San Francisco Daily Herald, September 10, 1860)

 

Note the same address for both the California Glass Works and Lambert’s Pony Express Office is 153 Montgomery St. Also of interest – this ad is the last for Lambert as agent for the Pony Express. (Daily Alta California, August 24, 1860) J.W. Brown became the second San Francisco agent and the office was moved to Olney’s Washoe Exchange at the corner of Montgomery and Merchants Streets in September 1860.

 Aside from a few additional news reports about the glass works display, virtually no information has been located, and it must be concluded that the works were not successful and closed its doors shortly after the fair. Only one small note has been located to date. (For additional contemporary news reports see EARLY GLASSWORKS OF CALIFORNIA, by Warren B. Friedrich. N.D.)

 

Essentially, this article is championing a glass factory in the town of Folsom since that is where the raw material – Folsom quartz – was mined to make soda bottles for a Folsom proprietor. The article is obviously referencing the California Glass Works of Lambert & Co. To my knowledge no soda bottles have been found in or around Folsom that may fit the description of those noted. (Marysville Daily Appeal, September 21, 1860)

 

Certainly, there are soda bottles whose origins are in question and may actually be attributed to Lambert’s factory, even though they are extremely rare.

 


 

This rare partial bottle of Napa Soda is a fine candidate for being made at one of the iterations of the  California Glass Works. It is market P & W  SF, near the base. The crudity of the mold is nearly childish in nature and surely could not have come from any glass factory with experience. I have seen two other specimens of Napa Soda bottles, almost clear in color but also lacking in execution of the mold. The glass color could certainly fit that expected if Lambert was using pure quartz rock.

 

 

Little to no information was gleaned about Lambert until a possible mention in September of 1861, when a news article noted a meeting of the Silver City Quartz Mill Company was to take place. Lambert was noted as a president of the company (Daily Alta California, September 28, 1861, p. 2)  Another news article a month later excoriated Lambert for acting without authority of the Board of Trustees of the Milling Company. (Sacramento Daily Union, October 12, 1861, p. 2)  At a meeting of the stockholders, he was absolved of any wrongdoing, with the members noting, “By virtue of the By-Laws, as amended, he is General Superintendent and Manager of the Company’s mill and property, and not subject to suspension or removal by the Board of Trustees. (Daily Alta California, October 16, 1861, p. 2)  Keep in mind, however, that it is not possible to determine if this is the same Lambert. In later news articles there are too many John Lamberts to determine if it is the same person, so he becomes effectively lost.

 

To summarize the timeline of this early San Francisco glass works, that began simply as a side business of the Baker & Cutting pickle trade in 1859, and by the beginning of 1860, was to be an entity in its own right, but quickly failed. It is highly unlikely that it was ‘in blast’ during much of its short lifespan. The following timeline is noted:

 

The California Glass Works

December 31, 1859 to February 29, 1860. Baker & Cutting, proprietors.

February 29, 1860 to about April 22, 1860. Augustus D. Baker, proprietor.

About April 22, 1860 to about May 1, 1860. Lucius Bell, owner. (Was probably never in blast under his ownership.)

About May 1, 1860 to about October 1, 1860. Joseph Lambert, proprietor. (It was probably idle for at least the first three months of his ownership.)

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