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NEWYORK CITY BOTTLE LEGACIES

ebay The Dearborns(first of three parts) by Gary Guest nasa

Oneof the most recognizable New York City bottles of the “IronPontil” age are the soda and mineral water bottles ofJohn and Alexander Dearborn. The sons of Rodolphus Dearborn, bothmen entered the soda and bottling business as partners in 1848.At that time the Dearborns took over the business of anothersuccessful New York mineral water maker, A.W. Rapp. Rapp was inbusiness from 1843 to 1847 at 93 and 95 Third Ave and decided tosell out to the Dearborns in 1848.
Although the partnership officially started in 1848 both mentried various other related businesses before teaming up asJ&A Dearborn on Third Ave. As early as 1840, Alexander was agrocer, and by 1844 John was a root-beer maker. In 1844, old citydirectories list Alexander as operating a “CoffeeSaloon” at 107 Nassau Street in lower Manhattan, and JohnDearborn as a root-beer maker on Rivington Street.
The earliest Dearborn bottle is embossed, A. Dearborn & Co.(The “Co” being a Mr. William Boggs, and not JohnDearborn). The bottle dates from the 1846-1847 period, presumablybefore John joined the business. Like many mineral water bottlesof the time---it’s iron pontil, a deep cobalt-blue, andembossed on the back Mineral Waters / This Bottle / Is NeverSold.
Another equally early bottle, this time from John, happens to bea rather large stoneware bottle debossed simply, J. Dearborn.This bottle may also pre-date the partnership or may be from thelater 1850’s, when Alexander is strangely absent from thehistorical and business record.
By 1849 the business was known as J&A Dearborn, and by 1853another partner, John McChesney, arrived on the scene. Bottlesproduced after McChesney joined the business are embossed,J&A Dearborn & Co. Upon McChesney’s death (c1855)the “& Co” continued with both brothers runningthings for a short while until 1856; when John alone is listed asbeing in the soda business.
Later 1850 listings for Dearborn confirm that John rather thanAlexander became the dominant partner. From 1856 till 1858Alexander isn’t included in general directories---addressand no occupation given. Predictably, bottles from this periodare embossed, Dearborn & Co.
Apparently Alex was only temporarily gone. By 1861 he again islisted as being in the soda business, along with John. Althoughhis name appears regularly from 1816 onwards he probablywasn’t as active in the business as he once was. Later sodasand beers from the 1860s are embossed simply “Dearborn”,suggesting a single person, probably John was running most of thebusiness. Whatever the exact circumstances were is uncertain,however, by 1868 (there last year), the business had come fullcircle, with the name once again being listed as, J&ADearborn, soda makers.
In chronological order known Dearborn bottles, along with theircirca dates looks something like this: All bottles are roundunless otherwise noted.
The J. Dearborn stoneware bottle mentioned earlier is hard toplace according to what is known about the relationship betweenbottle and directory dates. With only a name debossed on theshoulder and no specific address, its hard to pinpoint a date formanufacture. It may pre-date the partnership by a few years, orhave been made during the later 1850’s when John Dearbornseems to have controlled the business without his brother.
Another peculiarity is the difference between the earlier andlater street numbers for the business along Third Avenue. Theearliest listing for the Dearborns are at 95 Third Avenue; thelater 83 Third Avenue. Did the business move or was there are-numbering of residences and businesses during the early1850’s? Hard to say, my guess is that there was re-numberinggoing on sometime during 852-53 and the Dearborns stayed in thesame building, and never moved.
Generally, most Dearborn bottles are rather common, and are seenat most bottles shows on a regular basis. Of course some are moreplentiful than others, and if sodas aren’t your thingyou’ll never spot those scarcer variations, or notice subtledifferences in embossment or color. Among the harder bottles tolocate are certain glass works molds and any stoneware A.Dearborn bottles. Also any unusually colored smooth basedvariations.
Hopefully as new variations are discovered the list of knownexamples will grow and become more diversified and keep us sodaand beer collectors on the look-out for additional bottles to addto our collections.
In Part II, the bottles of another familiar New York soda makerand bottler, D.L. Orsmby, and some of New York’s many creamsodas......


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