Saturday, February 15, 2020

Miracle Dig and Beginners Luck


Getting permission to dig is no easy task these days. So is the case with this project. It took a lot of hard work and 3 1/2 weeks to finally get permission on a major project. Now that is not the miracle here. The miracle is that the bottles you see have been saved or rescued from not only the ground but from an excavator, a dump truck and a D6 Cat on a construction site. The mere fact that they exists is the miracle.
     Now, the story gets better. Yeah I may have found some good sodas. But, one of the young guys that was running a bobcat with a sifting bucket for getting the junk out of the dirt, along with bottles in the process, didn't know anything about bottles. But, he and his dad do collect Native American items and metal detect for gold. So he has the collecting bug already. At the beginning he started pointing out bottles for me and picking them up himself. Then he wanted to know more about bottles and had some great enthusiasm. His excitement for the hobby was fun to see and he is a young guy. So, I started teaching him the ropes and wanted him to keep what he found. I told him the history of every bottle he found. He got more into it. He even told me his dad really liked the bottles and history also. They went as far as to build a shelf to display his new bottles. Everything from blue bromo's to the whiskey you see here. Yes, he rescued this piece of history from destruction. I was next to him while he was operating the Bobcat with the sifting bucket. He runs the Bobcat into the pile of dirt super fast and picks up a load and shakes it. This time he stopped and kept the bucket up, crawled underneath and grabbed it. He turned to me and asked, Mike what is this. I about shit my pants. I could not believe what I saw. A beautiful Jockey Club Whiskey. The look on his face when I told him what he had found was priceless. The fact that this bottle exist is a true miracle. I told him to keep it for as long as he can, don't part with it. He was over the moon with excitement and I was excited for him. The best part for me is that the young guy Seth who found the whiskey along with his dad are now new bottle collectors and are looking to learn more. He is also looking forward to going to his first local bottle show. Now, isn't that what the hobby is about. The most fun I had digging in a long time. Many thanks guys.


 

Friday, February 7, 2020


MEXICAN TONIC




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

"El  fantasma". Translated into English, means "the ghost".

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

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

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




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

The partners, Starin and Peache, residents of Los Angeles, created a medicinal product, as phony as the ‘best’ of them, claiming it was good for dyspepsia, constipation and loss of appetite. Packaged in a whiskey style bottle it probably carried a healthy dose of alcohol. Understanding the basics of marketing, the bottles were nicely embossed with a Mexican eagle and the artwork of the labels were first class. The name and graphics were trademarked with the California Secretary of State to help deter imposters who were expected to copy the product if it were to become wildly successful, as they hoped. It received trademark No. 1665 on October 24, 1888, which was undoubtedly about the time that Mexican Tonic was first marketed.

The beautiful front label for Mexican Tonic


The secondary bottle labels for Mexican Tonic

The son of  England born William E. and Mary J. Thompson Peache, Alphonso Moncton Peache was born in Michigan in 1868. His father was a boiler maker in Port Huron, but Alphonso apparently had no interest in that trade. He first appears in the registration record of the Seventh Infantry Regiment of the California National Guard (Los Angeles) as a Hospital Steward on October 10, 1888.



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

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

One may begin to wonder if the Mexican Tonic Co. had reached the end of the line by 1890. To even bolster this thought the Mexican Tonic advertisement that can be found nearly every day in the Los Angeles and San Jose, California, newspapers abruptly ended in September 1890. The only other continuing advertisements for Mexican Tonic were from retailers who were offering sale of the tonic at a reduced price. All indications conclude that the tonic was a defunct product by the end of 1890.

 By 1892 Peache is listed as a salesman at 124 Spring St., and residing at 500 Buena Vista, in Los Angeles. Starin is missing from the listings but is noted as a salesman at 210 Boyd in the 1893 listing. Also of interest is a listing for Helen Starin at 224 Boyd. She was Starin’s mother. Starin is listed at the same address in 1894 as a “business manager Trade”, and in 1895 as a salesman and in partnership with Abe Hart as proprietors of the St. Louis Lunch Room at 109 W. Second. (In 1897and 1898, Starin is a clerk and residing at 210 Boyd, and as a salesman in 1899)

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

Tragedy struck quickly to the Peache family when Clara died December 1, 1913, and Alphonso died a week later on December 7, 1913. Their three children were suddenly orphans which was quickly remedied when Clara’s parents, Fred and Emma Fotheringham, took them in and raised them in San Francisco.

The obituary notice for Alphonso Peache (Oakland Tribune, December 8, 1913)

Myndert LaRue Starin was born April 5, 1857, in Watertown, Wisconsin. He moved from Chicago to Los Angeles in the Spring of 1880. (Los Angeles Herald, 15 Nov 1896)) Starin is first documented in California as a member of the Eagle Corps of the California National Guard in Los Angeles in 1882, and working for Hellman, Haas & Co., wholesale grocers.  He was elected a third sergeant of the California Eagle Corps National Guard, under the supervision of then Major George S. Patton, in 1884. (He was the father of General George S. Patton, Sr.) (Los Angeles Herald, January 17, 1884) By 1886 Starin was instrumental in organizing Company C of the Seventh Regiment, Los Angeles and elected its captain. (San Diego Union and Daily Bee, August 4, 1889)

It is highly likely that Starin and Peache became friends through their National Guard activities, both committed salesmen; probably saw the potential benefits of creating and selling a medicinal product of their own making. Both apparently loved the world of sales and felt they could succeed handsomely with their talents. Starin’s father, Erastus Charles Starin, died June 30, 1891, leaving his estate equally divided to Myndert Starin and to Helen, who was Myndert’s mother. Myndert’s father had worked in the insurance industry and owned a hotel in Los Angeles. It is probable that Myndert received a considerable estate from his father.

Acting as a traveling salesman, Starin sojourned to Manila in the latter part of 1899. Assessing the business conditions he was pessimistic about opportunities. However, he noted,,. . . “that there are good openings in Manila at present for a manufacturing chemist, lawyers, a photo supply house and a manufacturing confectioner”. (Los Angeles Herald, 12 February 1900) . He may have tipped his hand a bit as a reason for traveling there when he further stated, . . . “The coldest weather there is warmer than in Los Angeles at this time and you can see the ‘miasma’ rise out of the ground every morning.  It is like breathing a poisonous gas, and then there are no sewers.  The moist tropical climate produces all kinds of malarial and tropical fevers and I hear the plague is there now.  If that is so, the question of living there is settled.”

Back in Los Angeles, in 1900 Starin invested in the Oak Oil company, becoming a director, and secretary,  at a time when the Los Angeles fields were booming. (Los Angeles Herald, 4 Mar 1900).  He also became a director of the newly incorporated Kismet Oil company a month later (Los Angeles Herald, 5 April 1900)  He then became a director of the newly incorporated Trophy Oil company in May of 1900.  (Los Angeles Herald, 9 May 1900)  With continued trust in the oil business he then subscribed $7,000 to the incorporation of the Arfena Oil company. (Los Angeles Herald, 19 Jul 1900) It appears that he got a little carried away with investments for in 1903 Starin, still defined as a commercial traveler, filed bankruptcy alleging his liabilities to be $2390 and assets, $350.  (Los Angeles Herald, 22 Jul 1903) And, this was at the time when California was the largest oil producing state in the U.S.

 As he had done several years earlier, Starin purchased a liquor license, this time from A. T. Carter for use at 115 Wilmington Street, Los Angeles. ( Los Angeles Herald, 4 May 1904).  In 1907 he then purchased the liquor license of wholesale liquor dealer, C.R. Grand of 422 North Main Street. (Los Angeles Herald, 11 December 1907). The 1910 U.S. census lists Starin as a wholesale liquor salesman.

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

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

The elusive Mexican Tonic bottle



A close-up view of the embossing

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO GLASS WORKS

Any dedicated collector of western glass is familiar with Warren Friedrich's book on the subject. He spent many hours in libraries and poring over microfilm machines. But, no one can find it all. Below is yet another article on a visit to the San Francisco Glass Works, which was published in September 1872. There are some interesting observations that help piece together the activities of the works. 

The second item is a very interesting advertisement of the same vintage and from the same document, the PACIFIC COAST MERCANTILE DIRECTOR(Y). Yes, it is not really a directory but called a "Director". I don't really know what the word means in this context, but the ad contains some very interesting information about bottles and molds. It looks like a standard lettered bottle mold would cost about $25.00, or about two weeks wages for a working person.






Wednesday, January 8, 2020

ALLEN'S  JAMAICA  GINGER








A number of years ago the Governor’s mansion in Sacramento was in such a dire need of renovation that no head of the State wanted to reside there. The State finally allocated funds to fix up the grand old structure. I stopped by one day to check out the progress, not knowing if they would accept my impromptu visit. To my surprise the workers, which included a few staff members from the Office of Historic Preservation, gave me a tour of the very meticulous restoration process. I just happened to mention if they had discovered any old bottles in the process of their work. Several had been found and I followed one of the staff members to a room where a variety of historical items had been collected.

The few bottles were not very interesting except for one that had been located within a wall. It was a typical Jamaica ginger style with a paper label. The label was less than attractive and I turned the bottle over expecting to find no embossing. To my surprise it was embossed “Allen’s Essence of Jamaica Ginger”. This bottle had been a bit of a mystery as to where it originated, especially since all the specimens I had seen were not characteristic of western glass. I turned the bottle back to the label side to look for an obvious clue for whom may have made it. To my surprise, at the bottom of long verbiage defining directions for its use, was the wording, “Prepared and sold by ISAAC P. ALLEN & CO., WHOLESALE DRUGGISTS AND CHEMISTS. 139 J street, Sacramento.”

What an unexpected surprise! This bottle had not strayed very far from its origin. That label had solved a mystery that, to my knowledge, still has not been verified by any other source. Needless to say, I photographed the label as documentation, for fear that the bottle may never surface to the public eye again. I have no idea where it may be today, but hope it safely resides in the public domain.



A photograph of the Allen’s Jamaica Ginger label that was discovered during the renovation process of the California State Governor’s mansion.


I won’t go into great detail here about Isaac Allen, but will note that he was born in Massachusetts in 1847 and came to California as a young child with his father, Isaac S. Allen, in 1856. He worked as a druggist for a short while in Sacramento and eventually moved to San Francisco about 1873. He then entered the banking industry where he remained for the rest of his life. Allen died in Alameda, California, in 1925.

The most spectacular event in the life of this family was when his father, Isaac S. Allen, was connected with the San Francisco Benevolent Society. This organization was formed to provide help to economically disadvantaged people within the City. The elder Allen formed a friendship with a woman who needed support and happened to have a daughter who Allen had an interest in. The woman began receiving funds on the condition that Allen could spend some private time with the daughter. This illegitimate tryst was eventually exposed which caused a scandalous uproar in San Francisco. The senior Allen ended up in big trouble. This affair is well documented in the San Francisco newspapers.



Isaac Allen assumed the drug business of R. H. McDonald in Sacramento. (Sacramento Daily Union, September 16, 1871). After moving to San Francisco he continued in the drug business in San Francisco for a few years, and produced yet another embossed patent medicine.


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2020

HAPPY  NEW  YEAR


As 2020 unfolds we will soon b e experiencing the largest antique bottle event in the Western Hemisphere from July 30 to August 2, in Reno, Nevada. If you would like to attend this event I strongly encourage you to get your reservations early - especially for the accommodations at the Grand Sierra Hotel. It makes life much easier as this event is held in the hotel and rooms are limited,  If you are planning on selling, I also recommend reserving your sales table(s) early as well. Please go to the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors website at fohbc.org for the most current information.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Ken Schwartz Collection - Just the facts~








I've received a ton of emails and phone calls asking just what the heck is going on. Truthfully, I didn't know. Rather than speculating and spreading rumors, I went straight to the horses mouth.

Ralph Hollibaugh and Ken were close friends for as long as I've known both. Ralph is also extremely knowledgeable and honest.

Ralph was selected by the family to facilitate liquidating the collection. And this, is what Ralph had to say.


 ------------------------------------------------------

Bruce; 


This whole thing started last Tuesday with a $XXXXX offer on a flask the offer was accepted and two people there are bidding on lots were able to buy what they wanted. Then **** **** called and made an offer on three of the top 10 whiskeys and then it exploded.


I started getting calls for items; getting maybe 50 phone calls a day. Sold a considerable amount to a few people. I couldn’t handle more than a couple to three people at a time and sending a list is an impossibility. There’s things on the list that were priced out 40 years ago and there’s also things that are more recent and it can take an hour or so just to find an item on the list and then it can take up to an hour or two to find it.


There’s no preference who buys.  It is taking the time to process everything.

  
Thanks for your interest.


Also you can relate this to everyone on the Internet.


Thanks,

Ralph

 ------------------------------------------------------

If anyone is interested in making arrangements to meet with Ralph, drop me a line and I'll provide you with Ralph's contact info. You can contact me via email at jsglass@q.com
Good luck, Bruce


 

Friday, December 13, 2019



CUTTING & CO. - WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE


It can often be challenging to determine the initial date and longevity of a bottled product used by a company that was in business for a long time. Such is the case with the Cutting & Co. Worcestershire Sauce bottle.

The partners Lea and Perrins of Worcestershire, England, were so successful with their world famous sauce that they were forced to employ a team of lawyers to defend their product from unscrupulous imitators. Wikipedia  notes that John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins first marketed their Worcestershire Sauce about 1838. Its popularity was indisputable as born out by the literally hundreds of imitators around the globe.  Protecting their trade name was a constant battle.


Pictorial advertisements began showing up all over the world as noted in this 1858 example.

Perhaps one of the most contentious battles to preserve their proprietary stake in a product, they were challenged throughout the world, mostly in English speaking countries. The resolve of different legal entities made the issue even more confusing with regard to the prevailing rights of the trade mark. Other subtle differences of the brand were also tread upon, with one of the most obvious being the shape of the bottle. Not being necessarily unique, most imitators used the same style and the same configuration of lettering placement on the bottles, all in an attempt to bend the mind of the consumer into thinking their product was at least the same as the original. English made imitations were being advertised in San Francisco as early as 1859. This was certainly a very flattering situation for Lea & Perrins but also costly at the same time.

Apparently there was a judicial decision some time in 1874. Cross & Co. of San Francisco, established in October of 1850, had been the authorized agent for Lea & Perrins’ Worcestershire Sauce in California since 1860. Lea & Perrins trademarked its label for Worcestershire sauce in California on April 21, 1874, but it was not specific to the use of the word ‘Worcestershire’. This issue was followed upon with a federal trademark that focused on the words “Worcestershire Sauce”, on July 28, 1874.

The famous label for Lea & Perrins' Worcestershire Sauce was given full trade mark protection in the United States with registration of the words 'WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE" on July 28, 1874, with the U.S. Patent and Trade Mark Office.

 Pursuant to a legal finding Cross & Co. pressured three of the San Francisco imitators to desist in using the name Worcestershire or, Worcester, in the sale of their own recipe of the sauce. This action is memorialized in an advertisement that appeared in the Daily Alta California of November 16, 1874.



Cutting & Co. is the only firm of the three that used bottles blown with the word ‘Worcestershire’ impressed in the glass. It must be assumed that this particular bottle was no longer made after 1874.

Embossed vertically, CUTTING & CO., and embossed horizontally around the shoulder, WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE, in the same style as the Lea & Perrins bottle, it was determined to be an infringement of trade mark rights and had to be discontinued.

Of course, imitators continued to cash in on the famous sauce. Fisher Packing Co., of San Francisco tried bending the word ‘Worcestershire’ to ‘Wargestershire’ and trade marked the same in 1884. It took a few years for Lea & Perrins to catch up with the ruse but in 1890 the U.S. Circuit Court finally decided in favor of Lea & Perrins when their lawsuit enjoined Fisher from using the word Wargestershire. 

Another obvious deception was the sauce sold by the Fisher Packing Co. of San Francisco that slightly tweaked the word WORCESTERSHIRE, but it failed the legal test and was ordered removed from the market place.

While we can pin down the final date for the Cutting & Co. Worcestershire Sauce bottle, that still leaves its beginning date to be determined. No advertisements were uncovered that could establish Cutting actually selling Worcestershire Sauce except one in May 1872.


The only ad located for the Cutting & Co. Worcestershire sauce was this one dated 1872 which listed the product under "Sauces".


For the moment, the inception of Cutting’s attempt to capitalize on someone else’s extremely popular product will remain a mystery.


Saturday, December 7, 2019

West Coast Shows-2020 will be here before we know it!

I figured we'd get ahead of the curve and start publishing West Coast Show notifications.

Here's the first five in order of appearance.





Wednesday, November 20, 2019

WESTERN SPICE BOTTLES




For some unexplained reason the western spice manufacturers had an affinity for a certain style bottle like no other place in the United States. The prototype bottle appears to be the slightly earlier J.W. HUNNEWELL & Co. bottle from Boston, Massachusetts. These bottles generally contained milled, or ground spices of all types. They were manufactured in San Francisco from the late 1860’s through the decade of the 1870’s. Except for the Marden & Folger and Bovee spice bottles, which are too old to have been made in California, the embossed San Francisco made examples are pictured below.

I am not aware of any other embossed California examples and would like to hear from anyone who can add to the inventory of known California spice bottles of this type.




CHS BERNARD / SAN FRANCISCO






D. GHIRARDELLI & CO / SAN FRANCISCO 

This example is the uncommon half size version of its larger size variant. Perhaps it held a more expensive article, or one that had a tendency to degrade more quickly.




D. GHIRARDELLI & CO / SAN FRANCISCO  This is the regular, or larger size example of the item pictured above.



G. VENARD / SAN FRANCISCO



G. VENARD / SAN FRANCISCO  An obvious completely different variant of the Venard spice pictured above.



H. C. HUDSON & CO. It is not marked with a city of origin but it is a San Francisco company.


W. P.  This spice bottle was difficult to identify for many years but the initials are the unregistered trademark of Wellman, Peck & Co. of San Francisco. The mark is often seen on their early tea boxes as well.


Who can add to the list of these little embossed jewels of San Francisco glass? 

Friday, November 1, 2019


MEAT & FISH PACKING  CO

This little barrel shaped bottle is one of the treasures of the early western glass industry. The company that sold it, the Meat & Fish Packing Co. of San Francisco, was very short-lived. Documentation is nearly non-existent save for one reference that put in on the map. The relatively new product was marketed in 1878 and the proprietors decided to enter it into the 13th Industrial Exhibition of the Mechanics’ Institute in September of that year, and noted in the Pacific Rural Press, September 21, 1878.





Literally translated from its German roots, Ochsenmaulsalat means ‘Ox mouth salad’. This concoction was a delicacy (and probably still is) originated in southern Germany and Bavaria. It must be made from meat picked from the cheeks and tongue of a cooked corned beef head. The meat is additionally boiled in a water vinegar mixture for three hours then cut into small pieces with onion, salt, pepper, vinegar and oil, with additional spices if desired.

Apparently there weren’t enough Germans in San Francisco to keep the company in business and it silently went away. The business was never even listed in the San Francisco business directory. Left behind were a very few of the “nicest glass barrels” as pictured below.




The barrels are a little larger than most mustard bottles and are obvious contenders for being blown at the San Francisco and Pacific Glass Works – in 1878. Measuring about 5 1/2 inches in height, I must agree, they are very nice, and one of my very favorite California made bottles.






If one is really observant it is even possible to find an example blown from the re-worked mold of the Meat & Fish Packing Co., as shown above.  A slugged out arch hiding the area of the previous embossing is a dead giveaway. These bottles are also not very common and I have no idea what they may have contained, but they do look similar to a mustard bottle and may have been used for that product.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019


GIBB





Except for the Virginia City embossed ink bottles, for some strange reason the only other ‘early’ western ink with the proprietors name embossed is the Gibb umbrella. I know that there has been no documented evidence that this bottle is western made but I would put a hefty wager on the odds of it being blown in San Francisco. Regardless, let’s look at Mr. Gibb himself.



The earliest listing found for Gavin Gibb was in the 1863 San Francisco Directory.

Born in Philadelphia in 1843 Gavin J. W. Gibb was in San Francisco by about 1863 when he was first listed in the San Francisco city directory selling paints and offering his services as a painter.  During the first few years he named his business the Pacific Color Works. Known for obtaining his own color sources from minerals found throughout California and Nevada, he invested in a mill and necessary equipment for producing paints. In June 1866 Gibb was forced to file for bankruptcy. After opening his paint mill in January 1866 his expenses put him in the red by about $5,500.




The first of two bankruptcies that Gibb had to endure was documented in the Daily Alta California on June 19, 1866.

After a hiatus of a few years Gibb is noted in the 1868 San Francisco Directory as a sign painter at 633 Market Street. He then took a partner in 1869, then known as Gibb & Koch – sign painters. By 1871 Gibb worked alone as a sign and ornamental painter. By 1872 he was in partnership with Hiram B. Melendy as sign painters and importers and manufacturers of paints, oils and varnishes. The following year the partnership was reorganized and called Gavin J. W. Gibb and Co. By 1874 Melendy had left Gibb and his company was simply called Gibb & Co.

While maintaining the same company name of Gibb & Co., in 1875 he acquired another partner named Albert M. Shields and Gibb no longer advertised sign painting. As in the previous several years this partnership did not last very long. In December 1875 Shields left the company.  The end of his business was just around the corner when he was forced to sell nearly all of his stock in January 1876 and he was adjudged bankrupt in December of 1876.




Gibb never recovered from the assigned sale of most of his business in 1876.  Daily Alta California, January 26, 1876

In his last few years Gibb hired out as a sign painter and even tried his hand at manufacturing window shades.  The final chapter in the life of Gavin Jarden Watson Gibb closed on March 22, 1879, when he died in San Francisco, of “apoplexy”. His grave marker at Woodlawn Memorial Park in Colma notes he was born in 1843.

Gibb’s wife, Emma Josephine Holt, lived on until 1930, and died in Alameda County. The last of their five children died in 1966 in Berkeley. To think that I was collecting and researching bottles in the early sixties and could have interviewed her – if I had known of her existence – is somewhat disconcerting.

Following the upturns and downturns of Gibb’s business life it is very difficult to insert a logical time for when he produced his umbrella ink style bottle. One observation is that the bottle may not have held ink but was used for paint. This is not unusual for there is precedent for labeled examples of the same style of bottle used for paints by other merchants. It is certainly safe to determine that the bottle was produced some time between 1863 and 1875. Any tighter time assignment would be speculation unless more information comes to light.