ebay Louis Taussig & Co. whiskey bottle
byBret Heinemann - Atusaudero, Ca.

.....It is not known exactly when or why Louis Taussig came toCalifornia. It is assumed, however, he was like everyone else,since he arrived sometime between 1849 and 1856. The discovery ofgold in California in 1848 had increased the number of young menheading west. The western frontier had always offeredopportunities to those who sought fame and fortune. Even thoughmost people heading west found hardship rather than eitherfortune or fame, they kept coming. Probably because most of themwere able to make new lives for themselves. Also the isolation ofthe West Coast from the rest of the United States, and most everyplace else prior to the completion of the first transcontinentalrailroad in 1869, created new business opportunities with minimalcompetition. One of which was the sale of whiskey to the youngminers who arrived as a result of the Gold Rush.
During the 1860s, there had developed in the eastern UnitedStates a distilling capacity three times what was needed there.1The problem of how to get this surplus to the western markets wassolved in 1869 with the completion of the first transcontinentalrailroad. The major markets in the west at this time being SanFrancisco, Portland, Seattle, and Virginia City. The mining andlumber townsand camps started by the gold rush were also good potentialmarkets for whiskey.

Louis Taussig claimed to have got started into the wholesaleliquor business in 1856 at 723 Sansome Street in San Francisco.However, there is no record of him having operated a business inSan Francisco at this address at this time.2 Ithas been established that he was a silent partner in the firm ofLouis Altschul and Company. He took over the company in 1864 whenhe formed a partnership with David L. Lederer (formerly of theFletcher and Lederer bakery). This partnership lasted about oneyear. He also operated the Congress Hall Saloon at 318 BushStreet in San Francisco for a while in the 1860s. From 1869 toabout 1871 Louis Altschul was the majority partner again.3In 1866 he was listed as a wholesale liquor dealer.4
Louis Taussig, like other wholesale liquor merchants, soldwhiskey in quantities of not less than five gallons.5He was also subject to any special taxes in the places where heconducted business. However, he was exempt from having topurchase specific wholesale liquor licenses for every locationthat he conducted business in. The places of business weredefined as the place where the transfer of ownership of theproduct took place.6 This policy was reaffirmedby a Treasury Department decision on January 21, 1898.7A merchant was classified as a rectifier if he attempted topurify or refine the product in any way other then simply pouringit through a cloth to strain out impurities.8
Along with the arrival of larger quantities of good whiskey fromthe East on the railroad came the increased use of authorizedagents. In addition to which, there was by the 1880’sfifteen distilleries operating in California.9The use of these agents by distillers to sell their brands alsohelped to guarantee quality. The brands distributed by LouisTaussig included P. Morvilles AAA whiskey and Carrol Rye.10
Louis Taussig by 1873 had moved to the southwest corner ofBattery and Sacramento Streets, and the firm became known asLouis Taussig and Company. In 1873 Louis Taussig had formed apartnership with Adolph Fried and Adolph Eisenbach.11From 1874 until Prohibition the Louis
Taussig Company was on of thelargest wholesale liquor merchants on the West Coast.12
Somewhere between the mid 1870s and 1900, Louis Taussig andCompany opened distributing outlets at #9 Delaney Street in NewYork City and at #15 Sycamore Street in Cincinnati.13

Drawingcourtesy of John L. Thomas from his book "WhiskeyBottle of the Old West."

The Taussig San Franciscoaddresses were 205 & 207 Battery Street and 26 & 28 MainStreet.14
By 1877 Gabriel Taussig was working for the company. He wouldeventually become the president. Rudolph J. Taussig began workingfor the company as a traveling salesman in 1885; and in 1888Edward and Hugo Taussig began working for the company. LouisTaussig would become involved in real estate working out of the26 & 28 Main Street store. In the early 1890s John J. Carrollbecame a partner. Louis Taussig died about 1900. The family wouldcontinue until Prohibition forced them to close.15
In 1883 the company was valued at between $75,000 and $125,000;and in 1915 the company had grown in value to be worth between$300,000 and $500,000. This was despite the setbacks the companysuffered in the 1906 earthquake.16
The passage of Prohibition, which put an end to the business ofLouis Taussig and Company, was the result of the belief that mostof the ills in society could be cured, if liquor was no longeravailable. Men who spent their time in saloons were seen as athreat to both women and the sanctity of the home. Saloons wereregarded as a threat to men’s jobs; and the men whofrequented saloons were viewed as more likely to abuse or abandontheir wives and children.

Drawingcourtesy of John L. Thomas from his book "WhiskeyBottle of the Old West."

The temperance movement began in the early 1870s in Ohio with acampaign to shut down the saloons there. This campaign was onlytemporarily successful in closing saloons there. This campaignwas only temporarily successful in closing saloons. In 1873 agroup in Chicago founded the Women’s Christian TemperanceUnion under the leadership of Anne Wittenmeyer. The WCTU was oneof the major forces behind the temperance crusade. In 1879Frances Willard became the leader of the WCTU, and she changed itfrom a Midwestern prayer group into a national militantorganization. Willard also enlarged the scope of the organizationto include a plan to reform all of the social evils in society.The WCTU would grow and have 160,000 members by 1890 and 245,000by 1911.17
The attitude, in general, of both the liquor merchants anddistillers was in favor of national laws to regulate theirindustry. They viewed national quotas as necessary to stabilizetheir industry and protect themselves from more severe localrestrictions. They even tried unsuccessfully to get Congress toregulate their industry.18
After January 16, 1920, with the passage of the Volstead Act thesale of liquor became illegal; and prohibition became law. Theend of an era had arrived.....

1. Jeremiah W. Jenks, “The Development of the WhiskeyTrust,” Political Science Quarterly, 4 (1889) 298.
2. William L. Wilson, and Betty Wilson, Spirit Bottles of the OldWest, (Wolfe City: Henington Publishing Company, 1968) 139.
3. John L. Thomas, Whiskey Bottles of the Old West, (Bend:Maverick Publications, 1977) 45
4. William L. Wilson, and Betty Wilson, Spirit Bottles of the OldWest. 139
5. William Mida, Mida’s Compendium of Information for theLiquor Interests, (Chicago: Criterion Publishing Company, 1899)203.
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid. 213.
8. Ibid.
9. William L. Wilson, and Betty Wilson, Spirit Bottles of the OldWest. 139.
10. John L. Thomas, Whiskey Bottles of the Old West, 45-46.
11. Ibid.
12. William L. Wilson and Betty Wilson, Spirit Bottles of the OldWest. 139
13. John L. Thomas, Whiskey Bottles of the Old West, 45-46
14. William L. Wilson, and Betty Wilson, Spirit Bottles of theOld West. 139.
15. John L. Thomas, Whiskey Bottles of the Old West, 45-46.
16. Ibid.
17. Nancy Woloch, Women and the American Experience, (New York:McGraw-Hill Inc., 1994) 287-288.
18. David Stauber, “Attitude of the Distillers andWholesale Liquor Dealers on the Regulation of the LiquorTraffic,” The Annals of the American Academy ofPolitical and Social Science, 32 (November, 1908), 539.

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