Thursday, February 26, 2009


Has anyone really ever seen any broken pieces of this bottle? I mean hasn't it been long enough, should we officially call *Bulls--t* on this bottle?

I want it to exist, but since no other broken examples have ever shown up, I can't really believe in it any more.

Early diggers probably didn't pay as much attention to broken pieces and such as we do now, but even the great "beer label" whiskey town of Belleville failed to produce any fragments of the Old Signet. I have seen almost every defunct embossed whiskey bottle represented in this town, as the major west coast breweries were using anything that would hold liquid to ship beer into this town. Even the ultra rare Old Woodburn and Laurel Palace bottles have been found broken in this town, but no Old Signet. Every digger, screener, 'Harvey shard-raker' and their brother has taken a turn with Belleville, and no Signet pieces. Sorry gang, I don't think it exists. If it does, show me!!!

The Old Signet brand was trademarked in the state of California by John Kirkpatrick on March 23, 1875. In the application he indicates that he is the sole owner of the brand, and has been for "four years past" or since 1871. According to Eric Maguire's San Francisco Directory of Liquor Dealers, Kirkpatrick went it alone in 1871-1872. He joined forces with James McCue in 1873-74, changing addresses from 604 Front St. to 313 Pine Street during that time. In 1875, the firm is listed as Kirkpatrick, Cutter & Co. This is when he trademarked the brand. Who is this "CUTTER"? Then in 1876 the firm has changed to Kirkpatrick & Gentry, and listed for 1876 only.
I have a copy of the trademark application, the actual trade mark is for "Signet Whiskey - Reed & Fuller Distillers - Scott Co. K.Y." with the initials "R & F" inside a diamond shaped figure between the words Signet and Whiskey.


  1. SoleAgent

    You very well may be right, this bottle may as well be called the "Old Figment". A concoction of some collector's imagination, an embossed whiskey that some early digger dreamed of after seeing some newspaper ads. Could be one of the many many label-only brands that existed in the 1870s & 80s.
    I talked about 15 yrs ago to the authors (Bev and Joe Silva)of the book that published the report of broken pcs being found, in an attempt get the straight dope on this too. They had no recollection of ever seeing the pcs at that time. I also talked to one other bottle digging family that claimed to have personally found broken pcs in the tide flats in the East Bay Area, but they also couldnt produce any of the said pcs. I have seen an ad for the Old Signet brand w Kirkpatrick & McCue, but this in no way proves they ordered embossed bottles.
    It is still possible a bottle was made, however it is becoming more and more unlikely. Most of the ER 1/5's that there are only one or two examples known of, have at least several documented broken examples too. Some exceptions are a few of the flasks (eg. the Wolters Bros union oval ).
    Then there is the report of pcs coming out of Oregon too.
    It's awfully odd that no one saved any of the pcs....
    Darn, I wish someone would just produce some pcs !

  2. Tom;
    I just forwarded A.P. a detailed account on the one actual documented find of this bottle.

    Just to add a post script; there have been no pieces of the Old Signet found in Oregon. Someone got their wires crossed and attributed the find to this locale based on what I’d related verbally. However they failed to get the story straight, and like many legends, the facts get twisted around. Check in with future postings on the website.

    Kentucky Gem in J’ville Or.

  3. AP & Gem;
    Looking forward to the documented account of the find.

  4. Has anyone heard about pieces to a 70s 5th embossed "Old Wagon Wheel" dug in downtown Oakland ??? The diggers claim it was an embossed Oakland 5th. Seems pretty outrageous! Who knows?

  5. KY:
    That was a great story and I believe you, but until someone brings pcs to a show or photographs them, there will always be that element of uncertainty, margin of error, or skepticism out there. You dont know how much I wish you would have been able to bring what you found to a show and then have 4 or 5 other longtime collectors like yourself study,concur, and confirm the identity of your find. That... would really have put the mystery to rest. There has been so much "he said, she said" over the past 40 yrs surrounding this bottle, that physical pcs are what really needs to happen on this one. I think it could/would even revive bottle digging and create somewhat of a mini Gold Rush ! I'm already stoked to dig, just reading about your discovery, but if I saw pcs, I think I'd head for the hills immediately !!

  6. I agree with Tom on this one. "Old Figment" has been a joke for a lomg time. To date, there have been NO documented pieces of said bottle. Stories are fun, and we love to tell them, but until a portion, or hopefully a whole bottle, shows up this will still be another "tall tale".

  7. Will this one do?

    "Fancy, heavy clear flint glass back bar with the name, OLD SIGNET. This is the same name as the Old Signet, Kirkpatrick & McCue whiskey (#610 1873-1874) listed in Barnett's book of which there are no known whole specimens.

    "The bottle is beautifully made with 18 internal molded fluted sides, 9 larger outside fluted sides on the neck and shoulder with a tooled top, and measures 11 1/4" tall. All the letters were done with gold gilt and the outline of each letter was expertly etched into the glass.

    "The bottle is in excellent condition.

    "It is perfect except for gold gilt worn off the letters, a few minor outside scratches, some hard to see inside haze and typical base wear. There is no pontil on this one. Just for accuracy there is a darker, in-making impurity streak molded in the glass in the lip.

    "I have shown this bottle to a few collectors over time and the verdict is inconclusive. Some have said the brand didn't carry forward to circa 1890 (approximate age of this bottle), and others have said that it is possible someone could have carried the branding of Old Signet whiskey later in San Francisco resulting in this bottle."

    Item number: 280570610029
    Item location: Shingletown, CA, United States
    Seller info: bradbandc
    eBay auction ended: Oct 13,2010(reserve not met)
    Five photos, which you could possibly request from the owner, then add your two cents as to whether it's the missing link or the holy grail (or not).


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