Thursday, July 12, 2012


 As early as 1856 A. Barbier is advertising in various western newspapers, including the Grass Valley Telegraph, as a wholesale manufacturer of cordials, syrups and ginger wine. Barbier was located at 148 Washington Street in San Francisco. In his advertisements he is pushing a beverage called Barbier’s Grape Ginger Wine that he manufactures from pure white wine and Jamaica Ginger Root and that he sells only to the jobbing trade in cases and kegs. These advertisements lead me to believe that Barbier was not in the business of selling his products to the general public but to agents or wholesalers who provided the public with his products.

The Barbier schnapps bottle is somewhat of a mystery to the western bottle collectors that I have questioned about its origins and history. What is known about this bottle is that of the six or so known examples all have an iron pontil, were discovered in Northern California and they are to early a bottle to have been manufactured on the west coast.It is not known if Barbier manufactured the schnapps or imported and bottled it at his San Francisco location during the time it was marketed.

Having a bottle blown on the east coast and shipped to the west coast to be filled, without doubt, would cost more than the spirits that were concocted to fill it.
In 1992 I discovered shards of a broken iron pontil Barbier’s Schnapps at the gold rush settlement of Excelsior here in western Sierra county. It cannot be determined if this bottle was a “carry in” or if the Barbier schnapps was marketed in Sierra County’s gold rush country. It is reported that a mint Barbier’s was recovered from the old mining town of Monte Cristo on the early 1960’s. To my knowledge these are the only Barbier’s that have been discovered in Sierra County.
The Barbier’s Aromatic Schnapps is considered extremely rare and the selling price for the last one that came to auction confirms that it is not only a rare bottle but also a highly desirable gold rush era western distributed bottle. 


  1. Not so far from D-ville we found a broken one a few years back. I think you took us there if I remember right but I don't believe it was Excelsior. The frag now resides next door in the bottle garden. We also dug an intact one down the hill and another broken one in S.F.

  2. My dad dug a mint one along the Feather River at Longs Bar in the 70's. A super crude example!