Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Early and Often~

Kinda sums it up now, doesn't it? Truth be known; it sounds like an accurate description of our annual house boating trip...

As many of you know, I developed a penchant for hoarding and displaying honest labeled western whiskies back in the seventies when most folks were scrubbing the labels off the bottles in order to better appreciate the glass. Me, well, a simple mind equals simple pleasures. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that paper rots away long before glass. And contrary to what I used to tell my wife (back when I was young enough to care), I really didn't read the articles, I just looked at the pictures~ To me, the western whiskey label is the centerfold on the bottle and the rest is, well, pretty much just an article.

A while back I posted an article about the labeled and embossed Tea Kettle that showed up on my doorstep. Never a day goes by that I don't pay my respects to Shea, Bocqueraz and McKee for that bit of sunshine in my collection.

Too tell the truth though, my all time favorite was produced for Jacob Goldberg, Charles and Henry Bowen, and Louis Lebenbaum. The firm of Goldberg, Bowen & Lebenbaum was in business for a relatively short period of time (1892-1895), and were located at 426-432 Pine in San Francisco. The firm was officially listed as Importers of Wines And Liquors and Commercial and Retail grocers. Their grocery outlets were located at 432 Pine and 215 Sutter.

In 1892, they contracted with a German Glass factory, (probably Gerresheimer Glashuettenwerk of the Dusseldorf region) through Abramson - Heunisch Co. of S.F., who were jobbers of bottles, corks etc., etc. and had a run of clear applied top cylinder fifths blown. The bottles were embossed "Bottled By / Goldberg, Bowen, / & Lebenbaum / Importers of / Wines And Liquors / 426 To 432 Pine St. / S. F." A large company logo is located above this at the shoulder at the top of this full faced embossing pattern.

The quality of the bottles left something to be desired and most all display with small flashes or checks and other production related issues attributable to poor annealing at the glass factory. Most of this variant are also heavily whittled and display with extreme crudity. One small production run was produced with a mis-spelling and Liquors is spelled Liquops. It is estimated that fewer than a half dozen of the mis-spelled variant are in collections at this time.

They contracted with L. Schmidt & Co. / lithographers to have a label plate cut for a new brand of whiskey called Early & Often. The neck label has directions for the "proper use" of the product and the main body label pictures typical Victorian scroll work and the sun rising above the main body of the label. .
There are believed to be two or three of these examples currently in collections. Two of the labeled examples are on the rare mis-spelled variant of this bottle

Lebenbaum left the partnership in 1895. The 1897 Crocker Langley directory lists Louis as an importing grocer and tea & wine merchant in partnership with Jesse Meyerfeld located at 236 Sutter and residing at 1522 O'Farrell.

Goldberg Bowen & Co. continued forward, weathering the setback caused by the Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906, and remained prosperous as commercial and retail grocers, even after prohibition had forced most of the wholesale liquor dealers in the city to close their doors.


  1. I'm pretty sure this is the same bottle I owned at one time. Here's a little interesting tidbit of history that goes with this bottle:

    Back in the late 1970s three examples of these rare labeled bottles were discovered in the Bidwell Mansion in Chico California. Apparently they were found stashed away while the building was undergoing some renovations. There's a tremendous amount of history associated with these bottles. To own one of these historical bottle treasures is one thing but to know it's story I believe makes it so much more appealing. It becomes clear after reading the following that it's no surprise why they were hidden away.

    Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park in Chico, California is not only a state landmark, it also is one of the finest examples of Victorian homes in California. Significant for its history as the home of John Bidwell, known throughout California during the late 1800's.

    When John Bidwell galloped into Butte County on the heels of horse thieves back in 1847, he encountered a valley so pretty he was almost stopped in his tracks. Instead, he kept on going, caught the thieves, and turned them over to his boss, John Sutter, one of the known entrepreneurs of the California Gold Rush. A year later Bidwell witnessed history when gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill in the Sierra; he turned prospector and made a fortune. But he never forgot the verdant valley he'd seen near Chico Creek, 90 miles north of Sacramento. By 1850 he traded his gold for 26,000 acres, planted wheat, and planned a new town.

    Bidwell was one of the first Northern Californians to install an indoor toilet, a tidbit you discover during the tour of the mansion. The ballroom upstairs never felt the step of waltzing feet, as Bidwell's wife, Annie, was a prohibitionist who did not believe in drinking liquor or dancing.

    Bidwell Mansion is a beautiful, three story, 26 room Victorian House Museum that stands as a memorial to the Bidwell family legacy. Recognized as an important pioneer, farmer, soldier, statesman, politician and philanthropist, John Bidwell was known throughout California and across the nation.

    John Bidwell, a progressive fellow, married Annie Ellicott Kennedy Bidwell, the daughter of a socially prominent, high ranking Washington official. Unlike her husband, Annie a staunch Christian committed to moral and social causes. Active in the suffrage and prohibition movements, Annie worked to remove alcoholic beverages and did not believe in dancing, among other things.

    The Bidwell's were married April 16, 1868 in Washington, D.C. with then President Andrew Johnson and future President Ulysses S. Grant among the guests. Upon arrival in Chico, the Bidwell's used the Mansion extensively for entertainment of friends. Some of the guests that visited Bidwell Mansion were President Rutherford B. Hayes, General William T. Sherman, Susan B. Anthony, Frances Willard, Governor Stanford, John Muir, and Asa Gray.

  2. Hi;
    Nope, different example. To quote Paul Harvey, "and now the rest of the story". I got a call from a friend in North Eastern California in the mid to late 80's. He was excited because a building that had been locked up for decades had been sold and when the place was opened up, a hoard of pre turn of the century "junk" had been found inside. A brief history of the fort follows:

    "Although various dates have been given for the inception of this post (1863 to 1866), located at the present town of Fort Bidwell at the northern and of Sunrise Valley in Modoc County, it was most probably established sometime in 1863. The post, strategically located in the northwestern corner of the state, was intended to hold in check the marauding Indians of northeastern California, southern Oregon, and western Nevada, and to protect the travel routes into eastern Oregon and Idaho. Originally called Camp Bidwell, it was named for Major John Bidwell, California Volunteers, a veteran of the Mexican War, and a pioneer California settler Abandoned early in 1865, it was reestablished as a log built two company post on July 17, 1865, close to its original situation on a new site selected by Major Robert S. Williamson, Corps of Engineers. Major General Irwin McDowell, the department's commander, then referred to it as a fort, but officially it was designated as Camp Bidwell until April 5, 1879, when it became Fort Bidwell. (Records in the National Archives maintain that when the post was reestablished, it was designated "Fort" Bidwell by General Orders No. 44.)

    Although tile post was still garrisoned until October 21, 1893, the military reservation had been transferred to the Department of the Interior on November 22, 1890. The property then became a government Indian school and the headquarters for the Fort Bidwell Indian Reservation. In 1930 the boarding school was discontinued and the military barracks, formerly used as Indian student dormitories, were torn down, The commanding officer's quarters, however, are still standing, and nearby is the old post's cemetery.

    A few "early and often" phone calls to the owners of the "junk" were met with success and I was able to trade a half dozen rare Southern Oregon siphons for this piece, directly out of the store where it had been found. It's remained a treasured addition ever since.

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  4. Jacob Goldberg was my Great Great Uncle and I probably have the largest collection of bottles and paraphernalia (matches, olive oil, wine, whiskey, postcards, stamps, checks, etc) from Goldberg Bowen. If you are curious about any information about them company I may be able to help.

    I have the original articles of Incorporation from 1889 for Goldberg Bowen & Co

    The company was originally owned by:

    Jacob Goldberg
    Charles R Bowen
    David L McShaw
    Henry A Bowen
    Hugo D. Keil
    George W. Whitney

    In 1891 it became

    Goldberg. Bowen and Lebenbaum

    A few pictures of some of my bottles:


  5. Great collection Matt. I wish I was related to John Van Bergen.......


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