ANOTHER "GREAT FEATURE ARTICLE" FROM THE PAGES OF
ANTIQUE BOTTLE AND GLASS COLLECTOR MAGAZINE
THE MAGAZINE OF THE ANTIQUE BOTTLE COLLECTING HOBBY
soda NEW YORK CITY BOTTLE LEGACIES bottles
WILLIAM & GEORGE EAGLE, THE CRYSTAL PALACE and More (part
ebay by Gary Guest nasa
....Knickerbocker, the name is synonymous with old New York. Since the days of the Dutch to the 1950s, with Jacob Rupperts associating a Father Knickerbocker (complete in colonial garb) with beer drinking--- the Knickerbocker name has always been a part of New York folklore.
Four bottles that bear the Knickerbocker name. The two stonewares and dated glass "1848" bottle to the right are from William Pond (c 1848-1863). The S.S (Samuel Smith) stoneware is from the early 1850's.
Actually the first Knickerbocker was a real person, and as far as we know had nothing to do with beer or bottles. Harmen Jansen Knikkerbakker (which was later anglicized to Knickerbocker and originally meant baker of marbles) migrated to the newly renamed English colony of New York in 1674.
By the early 1800s the Knickerbocker name was further linked to New York and particularly to New York City by the writings of Washington Irving. In 1809, Irving published A History of New York From The Beginnings Of The World To The End Of The Dutch Dynasty. In it, and in many of Irvings short stories that followed, the idea of a mythical father figure for the city took hold. There was even a Knickerbocker magazine published from 1837 to 1865 that regularly featured articles about the city, highlighting local travel, humor, and literary stories for its loyal readers.
So it should come as no surprise that by the 1840s many businesses were capitalizing on the Knickerbocker name. If it could be canned, eaten, stored or bottled, products often did better on the market if they were associated with some sort of Knickerbocker slogan. There was Knickerbocker ice, shoe and stove polish, Knickerbocker insurance, and of course, Knickerbocker soda and mineral water.
The S. Smith iron pontil example is from the late 1840's. Manhattan directories first list Samuel Smith as a brewer in 1844. By 1850 additional listings include; Brewer and Congress Water bottler and soda water.
For collectors of early sodas the bottles that most often come to mind when your thinking Knickerbocker are those of W.P. (William Pond) and S.S. (Samuel Smith) Knickerbocker. Although the two men collectively produced a number of round sodas and mineral waters, porter and ales, and stoneware bottles, only a few are embossed with the Knickerbocker name in addition to there own initials. As you might expect, the Knickerbocker name was simply a draw for consumers and did not represent a real person.
The most familiar Knickerbockers from both William Pond and Samuel Smith are the sided cobalt-blue sodas embossed with the 164 18th Street address and the 1848 date. Predictably, both sided variants date from the heyday of sided sodas and mineral waters --- the late 1840s to the early 1850s.
Samuel Smiths sided bottles are known in medium blue and emerald-green, and rarer shades of aqua-green and true cobalt-blue. The earliest lips are typically what youd expect to find on sodas from this period --- wide sloping collars rather than a thicker standard looking blob.
In addition to the three Brockway bottles, there is a fourth glass variation similar to the one on the left (with more of a sloping shoulder). An 8 oz. small sized stoneware is also known debossed, W.E. Brockway. Note the tops - very uncharacteristic for New York bottles.
Another ten-sided soda from Smith
with a later 1852 date (embossed 18 SS 52) is also
known in cobalt-blue with a bulbous blob more characteristic of
the 1850s. Unlike most other sided examples from Samuel
Smith, it is a lot harder to find than ones embossed with the
address and 1848 date. Additional Smith bottles carrying the
Knickerbocker name include: a round iron pontil example embossed
S. Smiths Knickerbocker Mineral & Soda Waters, from the
later 1840s, and an 8oz. stoneware in a dark Albany slip
glaze debossed, S.S. Knickerbocker Porter 1849, as well as a
commoner 8oz. S.S. Knickerbocker, with no additional debossment.
As for W.P. (William Pond) there are also several bottles known, both glass and stoneware, that bear the Knickerbocker name. Perhaps the best known sided bottles from New York City are William Ponds Knickerbocker Soda Waters. Ponds sided sodas are embossed with the same 164 18th Street address as are Samuel Smiths bottles. Given that both are embossed the same, and represent different individuals, its likely that the address was a bottling house shared by both businesses. In addition to the familiar 10 sided examples there are at least two 8oz. stoneware bottles known from William Pond, and a round glass bottle with date and address that bear Ponds initials and the Knickerbocker name.
The Crystal Palace opened in New York City in 1853. To help William Eagle, the Union Glass Works produce the bottle in four colors, dark green, teal green, aqua, and cobalt blue.
Sided W.P. Knickerbockers are known in cobalt, sapphire, and teal blue, aqua, and varying shades of green, both with sloping collars and a traditional looking blob. Stoneware bottles are what you might expect --- colors ranging from earthy browns to varying shades of gray.
Another familiar name from New York Citys soda past also happens to have produced one of the nicest looking pontil bottles of the 1850s. The bottles of William Eagle, particularly his Crystal Palace sodas, which commemorated the Crystal Palace in London, and later in New York City; belong to a select group of iron-pontil picture sodas from that period.
In essence, the exhibit was Americas first Worlds Fair, and was a replica of the original built in London in 1851. Americas Crystal Palace opened on July 14, 1853 with President Franklin Pierce and a host of congressmen and New York dignitaries on hand for the opening day festivities. From the Secretary of State (Jefferson Davis) to the citys mayor -- if you were known politically, you were on hand that first day.
The building itself was a huge glass and iron dome structure that once stood just west of the old 42nd Street Croton Reservoir pumping station, between Fifth and Sixth avenues in todays midtown area of Manhattan. In addition to specialty shops and individual exhibits there was a 225 foot cast iron tower built (Lattings Observatory) adjacent to the palace complex that also featured small shops, ice cream and soda parlors, and a grand view of open country as far north as the village of Harlem, and southward, toward the encroaching city that was moving steadily north.
To be sure, in its day the Crystal Palace was the talk of the town. There were crystal fruit stalls and livery stables, billiard parlors, and hotels all named in honor of the exhibition. On the streets, vendors and cartmen sold all types of palace memorabilia, from banners and pins to exotic foods and tableware, all imported for the gala event.
A 10-sided pontil soda from Samuel Smith. William Pond (W.P.) also produced "Knickerbocker Sided Bottles". Both are among the most common of sided bottles from New York City.
What better way for a young enterprising soda maker like William Eagle to sell his brands of bottled sodas and mineral waters than to immortalize the Palace forever on some of his embossed bottles.
The business began in 1845 at 150 Fulton Street not far from the site of todays World Trade Center. Judging from the earliest listing William must have been related to George Eagle (presumably a son) because residences for both in 1845 were 150 Fulton. Also given the fact that George was in the porter business as early as 1840 at another location, and in 1843 on Fulton Street makes it likely that the two were definitely related. By the time of the Crystal Palace William Eagle had moved his business uptown a bit to Canal and Varick streets. Like most other soda bottlers at the time he also bottled mineral waters, porters, and ales, champagne ciders, and a variety of imports. An 1851 advertisement lists premium mineral waters, ale and bottles elder (elder was a popular term used in the nineteenth century bottling industry meaning older or aged.
Judging from the amount of Eagle bottles the business was certainly prolific, and remained at the same location all through its most productive years, the 1850s and 60s. The last listing found for Eagle was in 1885, and by the following year William Eagle had passed away. An 1886 listing refers to the business as, Eagle, William (estate of), ales, 1 Vestry St.
Another great looking soda of the 1850s belonged to George Eagle. In business in 1840 (and probably earlier) on Broadway he had moved to Fulton Street by 1843. Unlike William, most of the listings found for George indicate he mostly dealt in ales and bottled porter; only from 1851 till 1854 is there any additional mention of sodas and mineral waters. By the time of the Civil War it seems George Eagle has left Fulton Street and entered into semi-retirement. From 1861 till 1864 he is listed as an ale dealer from his home at 109 Kings. Later listings (1866-1867) no longer give mention of an occupation. Finally, in 1874, the only reference to anyone living at 109 Kings was a Margaret, wid George.
Unlike most other bottlers and beverage makers of the 1850's, George Eagle is known to have used only two different bottle styles. The "swirl" bottle (illustrated) and a mug based mineral water embossed "G. Eagle New York". Both bottles in any color are pretty hard to come by!
To date, no stoneware bottles are known from either individual, but who knows, one may surface as a result of digging or be discovered at a bottle show some day.
Another individual who was bottling sodas, mineral waters and brewing ale at an early date was William (aka W.E) Brockway. The business began (1853), like most others at the time, bottling mineral and soda water, and by 1858, had managed to also become a brewer of various ales and porter.
It seems that Brockway had become more of a brewer than soda maker or bottler --- listings after 1858 only mention him as a brewer. An 1864 advertisement refers to W.E. Brockways Spa Brewery at 82 to 92 E. 11th Street in Manhattan. A similar ad run between 1869 and 1870 gives the address as 315 to 321 E. 11 Street and reflects the re-numbering of residences and businesses that was occurring on many streets at the time.
Its unlikely that Brockway was doing much bottling by the 1860s because numerous ads only refer to various ales available by the barrel, and give no mention of them being bottled. Moreover, the only known Brockway glass bottles are pontiled, making it likely that they date from the 1850s. One early aqua example that is iron-pontiled even has the earlier street numbers. Even the 8oz. stoneware bottles that are known are reminiscent of the 1850 period. Generally, most Brockway bottles are pretty easy to find, and dont go for a lot of bucks.
Thats about it for now. A little historical background on just a few of the many beverage makers and bottlers that seemed to burst on the scene beginning in the mid-1840s. A special thanks to my digging cohorts and friends, Richie Johnson (for letting me borrow some of his sodas for drawing) and Jack Fortmeyer for updated information of New Yorks many cream sodas.....
REFERENCES FOR THE THREE PART SERIES:
Tweeds New York - Another Look,
Leo Hershkowitw,Garden City, N.Y. 1977
The Historical Atlas of New York City,
Eric Homberger, N.Y. 1994
Incredible New York, Lloyd Morris, 1951, 1975
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