Thursday, June 2, 2011

Oregon's "Laurel Palace"- Oro Fino

Here is an extremely rare western sixth recently dug which packs as much history as any whiskey bottle from Oregon, and is as historically significant as almost any western whiskey in my view.
This early sixth was from the Oro Fino Saloon in Portland, Oregon which officially opened in 1862. This bottle was likely made about 1865-66. It ranks as one of the west's earliest whiskey bottles. In 1862 Tom Harris, and James Lappeus were listed as owners of the Oro Fino Saloon at 8 Stark St. in Portland. in 1864 Lappeus took on a new partner named Powell, and in 1865, he took on yet another partner, a C.W. Knowles. This partnership lasted a bit longer, into 1872, after which Knowles assumed sole ownership of the Oro Fino. The saloon lasted into 1882 which was it's last year in existence.
The Oro Fino was considered Portland's finest establishment and stated " The Oro Fino at Nos. 6, 8, and 10 Stark Street. Patrons of the above establishment will always find the choicest qualities of wines, and liquors, ales, porter, and fine cigars. A first class oyster saloon is attached to our Bar rooms, where the bi-valves will be served in all styles and at all hours, Lappeus, and Knowles, proprietors"
The description of this saloon in downtown Portland in the 1860s, and 70's conjures up images of the elite in this port city gathering for spirits, and a cigar. The bottle itself is not necessarily the most attractive, being shoulder embossed. It does not have much going for it aesthetically, but for pure western history, and rarity, this little sixth packs quite a punch. I know of two examples in existence since this new find. The embossing reads "Oro Fino, Portland, O." I would love to see a label, and one can assume that it could have contained any type of liquor. The Barry and Patten, as well as the Laurel Palace also fall into this category in my opinion.They are also products promoting a saloon( The Excellent, and Laurel Palace). This is especially attractive to me. Most likely they all contained a fine bourbon, but possibly a port. In any case, the Oro Fino, and the B&P, as well as the Laurel Palace remain extremely historically significant for those who appreciate the glass, and the story behind it's creation. The tie in to a specific saloon is a rarity in a western whiskey bottle, and is the epitome of the old west.