Wednesday, December 28, 2016

From the Western Whiskey Gazette

Awww John - Not Again!?

Recently there's been quite a bit of discussion on the WBN site surrounding the serif "R". You know, the "R" embossed on many western bottles with the funny crooked right leg.

Someone  posed the question about just how late the "R" had remained in common usage. In other words; what is the newest bottle we could think of that has the distinctive R. I got to looking at the shelves here, and came up with a side by side comparison of old molds vs. new: Choice Old Cabinet Ky Bourbon. Yep, there were two distinctively different molds used by Crane Hastings & Co. to bottle their flagship brand. One is the older mold with the distinctive older Playdough style embossing and the glop top.

The other is a very crisp and distinctive new mold that is  obviously later and only comes with a tooled top.

To enjoy more on the continuing western "R" saga check out the entire post over at The Western Whiskey Gazette


  1. The font used on the Cabinet bottle is sans-serif not serif. A serif font has a small line attached to the end of all letter strokes. Sans-serif means without a serif, from the French, sans meaning without. I believe the enigmatic western "R" is by definition a sans-serif critter and is unusual for fonts in its curved front leg with a vertical finish.

  2. Very true! The Dr. Harvey's Blood Bitters is a great example of what Charles is referring to.

  3. I, by no means, am not an expert on fonts but I agree with Charles that the font on the Old Cabinet is sans serif. I do remember from school (quite a while ago) that the vertical line on the R is called the leg or stem, the half circle on the R is the bowl and the line under the bowl is the supporting leg or tail not a "curved front leg with a vertical finish" as Charles describes it.

    I didn't want to start splitting hairs but thought I would throw my 2 cents into the discussion.

  4. Apologies for the error. I knew better, but spaced the "Sans" when I wrote the article.

    Unfortunately, as Rick can attest to, I've made the same error on previous occasions. I've corrected the article and given Charles credit for the catch.


  5. Whew...I'm glad we got all that nomenclature figured out for that persistently pesky "R". Looks like we both got schooled Bruce. Thanks for the information guys. It's interesting to see evidence that "The R" was being used latter than I thought.

  6. That curved leg R on the late COC looks like a cheap knockoff of the original. I would think that "Mr. Curved leg R" would have been a senior citizen by the mid 90s. I think that meant he was over 40 in those days.

  7. Interesting that you should pick up on the "cheap knockoff"idea, Dale. I was thinking the same thing. I am thinking that when the new mold was cut for the COC, the orders were to reproduce the embossing on the original bottle. I mention this possibility because I have a difficult time thinking the curved legged "R" mold lettering guy didn't work after about 1885, and I am inclined to think it should be closer to 1883.

    The Nonpareil Soda Works bottle is the latest possibility that I can find with some degree of assurance. The Nonpareil works began in 1881 and it is likely the bottles were blown at the inception of the company. It is also interesting to note that they were blown right at the cusp of the switch from applied to tooled tops, as they are found with both. I would love to see someone find a later date that can be fairly well documented.

  8. Has it been proven that the tooled-top Choice Old Cabinet front-half mold is entirely new and not just original mold that was repeened or repaired and simply used again as the front half in a newer mold??

    I have a tooled-top Pride of KY that I dug, that has the early embossing, exactly same as the applied top version but is an entirely different bottle, as proven by the different base (has a late 80's early 90s thin ridge base like a tooled Sole Agent Jesse Moore) The embossing is exact to the earlier bottle, leading me to believe they simply reused the front half of the mold..... which wouldn't have been anything too cutting edge, since it had been done before with the CW Stuarts using the Cassin and SHM molds.

    There may be a correlation with when the transition to the tool-top became complete and the bases on the fifths start to become standardized to the newer base with the thin ridge vs the wider step. This might be when some of the liquor companies had to change bottles and opted to reuse/incorporate the embossed side of the existing mold into the newer bottle, so not to incur the expense of having it done again. Some companies did indeed have a new embossed mold made (ie: Hildebrandt, Posner has 3 bottles with the same embossing pattern evolving through the tool-top transition period), but I think not all of them did (ie: Pride of Ky and possibly the COC)


  9. For what it's worth;

    I should have noted from the onset that the design of the tooled top base differs from that of the glop top.

    The outer rim of the tooled base (outside of the kickup)is flat (roughly 1/8"), whereas the glop top base rim is notably rounded.