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FLAVOREDBEERS OF WESTERN NEWYORK

By Ann E. Spear

Lockport, N.Y.

Ourfirst mystery bottle was found in 1968, and we soon began toclassify it as a flavored beer. After seventeen years ofresearch, that name seems to fit the classification of this typeof bottle best. It certainly isn't a mineral water, a pop or sodabottle, or a regular hops beer bottle. It seems to be in a classall by itself.

An old store in Youngstown, New York was being emptied forremodeling into apartments. When clearing the basement ofcolorful advertising posters from the late 1800s (all of whichwere hauled to the dump), a quantity of old bottles embossed D.Davis were found. The bottles were sapphire blue, emerald green,and one black olive-amber, 10”x 3 1/2”, smooth base,and had twelve panels. As the bottles were brought up, a relativeof the D. Davis family saw them and took them home, giving one ortwo to an antiques dealer who was with her. A few of the bottleswere dispersed among relatives, including an entire case ofemerald green reportedly taken to the East Coast. The remainingsapphire blue bottles and the one black glass could be seen inmany of the windows of her home.

We were just beginning to collect old bottles in the mid1960's and my husband, who was a Fuller Brush man at the time,saw the blue bottles in the window and was able to purchase one,then two more. Finally, shortly after the lady died, we were ableto purchase the black bottle. The remaining bottles were kept inthe family. No one knew just what they had contained, but theyhad probably been returnable, as they showed much wear,especially on the base.

Soon after, a second, similar bottle embossed J.B.G. came intoour collection from a bottle collector. The collector'sbrother-in-law had found the bottle while hunting in the localwoods and had given it to her. Again, no clue to the contents,but the bottle had much wear on the base. This bottle was alsosapphire blue.

The third bottle we found was originally dug near the HarrisonRadiator Div. GMC plant in the Town of Lockport. Again, sapphireblue in color, paneled, same dimensions, but with an iron pontiland embossed Dr. Cronk, obverse R. Mc C. Although much has beenwritten about Dr. Cronk, we have not found reference to theinitials R. Mc C. We did find a pottery bottle of the same styleembossed sarsaparilla beer.

By 1971 we had added a beautiful, sparkling, sapphire blueflavored beer embossed M. Richardson. This bottle was verysimilar in style to the others, but did not have the panels. Thisbottle fell from the ceiling of a home on Chestnut Ridge inWilson, N.Y., during remodeling. (Soon after, a LockportTraveler's Companion (circa 1860) came from the cistern of thesame house). The bottle was so full of a varnish-like substancewe thought it was amber. In fifteen minutes we had cleaned thebottle and were amazed to see it was blue.

Quickly following the purchase of the M. Richardson bottle wewere able to buy another flavored beer embossed H.H.P. from adigger in Shelby, New York. We then bought a variant to theH.H.P. embossed H.H.P. & Co. that had been found in somewoods. And finally some pieces of the puzzle began to fall intoplace.

In the 1970s we belonged to an antiques club that met at theNiagara County Historical Society building in Lockport. We gave aprogram about old bottles and at that time met Francis Swanson, alocal history buff. Visiting with Fran, we discovered he owned anotebook filled with 68 leaves containing 267 documents from thebusiness of M. Richardson. He loaned us the book and allowed usto photograph several of the receipts. When Fran passed away afew years ago, we purchased the book from his widow.

The most exciting document we found in the notebook was thebill of sale of the H.H. Parker & Co. business to ClaussaRichardson, as quoted exactly: “LOCKPORT: August 14, 1860.For and in consideration of the sum of One Hundred and TwentyDollars to me this day paid I hereby sell, assign and transferall my rights title and interest in the Beer Shop Company knownas H.H. Parker & Co. to Claussa Richardson.” This billsale was signed H.H. Parker.

A call to the Niagara County Historian verified a listing inthe 1859 Lockport City Directory of H.H. Parker, owner of a lemonbeer business at 6 Lock Street. The call also confirmed thatClaussa Richardson was the wife of Mortimer M. Richardson, whocontinued to make lemon beer until at least 1866. The record bookhas numerous tax receipts to confirm this, and one read:“NO. 2270 UNITED STATES INTERNAL REVENUE Collector's OfficeDistrict of Lockport Sept. 17, 1866 Received of M.M. RichardsonTwelve 70/100 Dollars for Excise Tax on August Lemon Beer $12.70.Annual Watch 1 $1 and (unreadable) $1. Total $14.70 being amountassessed on August 1 for 1866. M.L. Burrell, Dr. Collector.”

Richardson purchased his bottles from the Lancaster GlassWorks, Lockport Glass Manufacturing Co., Lockport Glass Works(same business location, different proprietors), and the WhitneyGlass Works. On 5/14/67 he purchased 3 cask 1 bbl 3 86/144 quartbeer bottles for $53.96 from the Lockport Glass Manufacturing Co.Although the color of the bottles is not mentioned, and we do notsee tax records after 1866, the bill does say QUART BEER BOTTLES.

Our collection also includes an emerald green M. Richardson,paneled, found on Sand Hill, close to Rapids, N.Y., and an aquaexample, no panels, found in the basement of a home in Barker,N.Y. In 1983 we purchased an emerald green J.B.G. from a youngman named Jim who was remodeling a house on Harvey Avenue inLockport built in 1858. While deepening his basement, heunearthed several fragments and one whole bottle. Jim's dadthought the bottle was worthless and tried to throw it out. Jimknew we collected old bottles and sold it to us, going home withenough cash to show his dad old bottles did have worth.

Other examples of flavored beers include a pint Boughton andChase, iron pontil, ten panels, sapphire blue, dug in a garden onRoute 104 between Lockport and Gasport. Burt Spiller fromRochester kindly supplied the following from the Rochester DailyUnion, Sept. 23, 1852, page 3 Col. 2: “About 2 o'clock thismorning a small wooden building owned and occupied by Boughtonand Chase, situated on the Feeder near Mt. Hope Ave., was totallydestroyed by fire. The premises were used for the manufacture ofCronk's Beer and Gleason's Mineral Water. The property wasinsured for $1500, which, the owner says, will not cover theloss. The origin of the fire is unknown. The building was nearlydestroyed before a general alarm had been spread.” We onceowned a blue E. Tousley Cronk's Beer, twelve sided.

Two Skinner Gallery auctions offered flavored beers for sale.The Gardner collection contained a seven-paneled Boughton andChase Rochester N.Y. Bottle Registered According To Law, pint,sapphire blue, heavy sloping collared mouth and iron pontil. Thedescription listed the bottle as a soda. It sold for $950. ThePattridge collection (from Rochester, NY) sold a J.B.G. listed asa beer or soda, iron pontiled, sapphire blue, some damage, whichsold for $375 plus buyer's fee. Also in the Pattridge collectionwas an E. Tousley Cronk's Beer in emerald green, twelve panels,sloped collar, which sold for $600 plus buyer's fee.

This receipt from the UnitedStates Internal Revenue dated Oct. 29, 1866 shows that M.Richardson paid $10.25 tax on his "Lemmon Beer".

All of the flavored beer bottles in our collection showconsiderable wear, and were probably returnable. At one timeRichardson received credit from the Lockport Glass Works forglass cullet. Although many of our bottles were dug, they are allin very good condition.

Beer made from the blending of various roots and barks waspopular in Europe and America since colonial times. Ingredientscould be spikenard, ginger, sarsaparilla, wintergreen, or fruitssuch as lemon. Yeast and sugar were added to the flavorings andwater. As the product aged the sugar were converted into alcoholof about 2 to 5%, the same alcohol content as today's hops beer.

In 1970 the Hamm Brewing Co. of England introduced analcoholic soft drink under the trade name Shandy. The companyoffered a flavor choice of cola, lemon-lime, or grapefruit. Thedrink was advertised to have the same alcohol content as beer.

Thus we conclude that the name-flavored beer is appropriatefor this class of bottle. This category is uncommon with lessthan 100 examples known to us. All of the bottles we have seencame from the local area within a hundred-mile radius coveringNiagara, Orleans and Monroe counties in New York State. Thebottles were probably made locally in Lockport and possiblyLancaster. And finally, we will continue to classify the bottlesas flavored beers until someone can convince us that anotherclassification is more appropriate.

The following bottlesare from the collection of Eric Schmetterling.

Wm. Cook, green, (pint size)

H. Sproatt / Toronto, (cobalt blue)

R. Green / Toronto, (cobalt blue)

H. Sproatt / Toronto, (small letter)

E. Tousley / Cronk's Beer (green)

E. Tousley / Cronks Beer (cobalt)

H.H.P.

J.B.G. (green)

J.B.G. (cobalt)

S. Smith / Auburn, N.Y.

M. Richardson (green)

B. & G.

Dr. Cronk

Dr Cronk - RMcC (on reverse)

R. McGoun

M. Richardson (aqua cylider)

M. Richardson (green cylinder)

M. Richardson (cobalt cylinder)

D. Davis

Boughton & Chase (pint size)

D. Davis (black olive green)

RMC Co.

H.H.P.

H.H.P. & Co.


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