Monday, April 12, 2010


It was November of 1971 and we were driving home after one of our visits to hang out and scrounge with our buddy Mike McMcoy of Coloma (Discovery House Antiques). We spotted the sign for Plymouth, off of Hwy. 49, and decided to check it out. At the entrance to town, we spotted an old building that was vacant and calling out to us! Looking thru the front windows, it appeared that this "mercantile" store had been vacant for many years, and was just full of "stuff", as if someone had just walked out and left everything there. As we walked around the building, we discovered a cellar door on the street side, and closer examination found it to be readily accessible and not locked. After entering the basement, we managed to find a number of old bottles that had been thrown into the crawl space and retrieved as many as we could reach. Nothing great, mostly pottery beers, medicines, pickles, etc. Then, we discovered a stairway that led up to the store, and it was open! After poking around in the store for some time, we came upon boxes full of old paper items; billheads, letterheads, documents, etc. Most of this paper was dated from the 1880's to around 1910. Soon after, we discovered more paper items in another room, but most seemed to date after 1910, so we left it, thinking that it just was not old enough! We loaded up the older paper items and headed for home. After inspecting our "find", we discovered some documents for the incorporation of the mercantile business of "Coblentz, Levy, Rosenwald and Kahn". I don't remember the dates, but among the paper was also documents that showed that this partnership dissolved a year later, with Coblentz and Levy leaving, and Rosenwald and Kahn forming a new corporation. A "Coblentz and Levy" appeared shortly after this time in Portland, Oregon and were listed as whiskey merchants. Could this be the same 2 guys from Plymouth?

My buddies and I split up the items from the find, and I had disposed of all my paper items over the years. Just recently, I was able to acquire one friends share of the find. The bill head from Hall Luhrs was from the 1880's and really colorful. There were a few of the Loewe Bros. letterheads , and they were dated 1894. These were mostly hand written letters, and hard to decipher. The one pictured here states at the bottom "we have bought the business of Wilmerding Co. and about Jan 1st will move to 216 California St.". It appears to be dated Nov. 24, 1894. If there are any other billheads or letterheads floating around out there from "Rosenwald and Kahn", chances are they are part of this original find back in 1971.


  1. I can well, or maybe not so well, remember Mike's parties. We stayed at his house on a number of occasions, and dug across the street behind the Vineyard House. Too bad that is now strictly off limits as a CA State Park because the dump in the vinca behind the house is still holding some great glass.

    In that same year, 1971, I scored a 1918 Coca Cola festoon with three girls holding umbrellas and coke glasses from a building just down the road, in Ione. Not whiskey, but attractive in it's own right.

  2. Hey Dennis, great story! I think I recall you pointing that building out when we passed it last year? With discoveries of such historical treasures at a slim to none level now, it's important that they are shared and documented by those of you that experienced them. As you tell this story I can nearly imagine myself there at your side, vicariously experiencing the thrill of discovery with you. Keep up the good work and let’s hear more! BTW: love that seventies hair!


  3. Hello. Interesting about Coblentz- Levy documents. Do you have pictures, or know where the documents you found are now? I am doing some historical research that has lead me to Plymouth, and Portland. Anything related to these two family names are of interest to me.


  4. Steve, shortly after finding these documents, I sent them to Bill Wilson, thinking that the info. contained in them would be of some interest to him. I never heard back from him, so I don't know what happened. It may have been about the time that he and Betty split up, but not sure. Anyway, these documents dis-appeared. Maybe Betty Zumwalt might know something! Dennis

  5. Hey Dennis, My uncle, Tom Lehr was part of that great find. He always talks about it. Around that time he had taken a load of paper (boxs) to the Auburn show and laid them all out to sell. Everyone there that my uncle was crazy, but Richard Siri told my uncle he was on to something big. I still have some of that great paper find. Tom lehr also found the other great paper find in Grass Valley. Mike McKillop

  6. That's interesting Mike. After we got home from this trip, I called my buddy Mike McCoy to tell him about this and suggested that he go down to Plymouth to check out the stuff that we left. He took someone with him, so it may well have been your uncle, because I think they took all the rest of the paper. We screwed up by not checking that pile closer, as Mike and his friend found a leather or canvass bag marked "Wells Fargo & Co." and inside were two handguns. The friend took one, supposedly a Colt 45, and Mike took the other, a Saturday Night special of some sort. He sent that gun to me, which I still have.

  7. Actually, we've amassed quite a bit of data regarding the enterprise of Coblentz & Levy.

    The original partners were Lazard Coblentz, Levy, Alex Rosenwald, and Isaac Kohn and they were based in Plymouth CA. In 1890, Coblentz & Levy left for Portland and the partnership dissolved. Rosenwald and Kohn remained in Plymouth, the store later becoming G. & M. Roose, Inc. Coblentz & Levy originally were at 128 Front St, moving to 166 2 nd in 1893. They were called "Coblentz & Levy" from then until 1910, at which point they became the Coblentz Co. The firm was headed by Lazard Coblentz while Julien Coblentz was secretary treasurer. In 1911 they moved to 104 No. 5th St. The company incorporated in 1912 and it closed in 1913. The time frame of the evolution of partnerships and company names were as follows: Coblentz & Levy (1889-1910), The Coblentz Co. (1911), The Coblentz Co. Inc. (1912-1913). Their registered brands were North Star Old Kentucky", and "Old Private Stock, and they were located at the following addresses as noted; 128 Front St (1889 / 90 - 1893), 166 2nd (1893-1912), 105 No. 5th (1913). They utilized two different style fifths; the first being the clear applied top generally regarded as a German connection, and an amber and clear tooled cylinder (slightly different molds).


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