ANOTHER "GREAT FEATURE ARTICLE" FROM THE PAGES OF
ANTIQUE BOTTLE AND GLASS COLLECTOR MAGAZINE
THE MAGAZINE OF THE ANTIQUE BOTTLE COLLECTING HOBBY
NEW YORK CITY BOTTLE LEGACIES
ebay The Dearborns (first of three parts) by Gary Guest nasa
of the most recognizable New York City bottles of the Iron
Pontil age are the soda and mineral water bottles of
John and Alexander Dearborn. The sons of Rodolphus Dearborn, both
men entered the soda and bottling business as partners in 1848.
At that time the Dearborns took over the business of another
successful New York mineral water maker, A.W. Rapp. Rapp was in
business from 1843 to 1847 at 93 and 95 Third Ave and decided to
sell out to the Dearborns in 1848.
Although the partnership officially started in 1848 both men tried various other related businesses before teaming up as J&A Dearborn on Third Ave. As early as 1840, Alexander was a grocer, and by 1844 John was a root-beer maker. In 1844, old city directories list Alexander as operating a Coffee Saloon at 107 Nassau Street in lower Manhattan, and John Dearborn 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 John Dearborn). The bottle dates from the 1846-1847 period, presumably before John joined the business. Like many mineral water bottles of the time---its iron pontil, a deep cobalt-blue, and embossed on the back Mineral Waters / This Bottle / Is Never Sold.
Another equally early bottle, this time from John, happens to be a rather large stoneware bottle debossed simply, J. Dearborn. This bottle may also pre-date the partnership or may be from the later 1850s, when Alexander is strangely absent from the historical and business record.
By 1849 the business was known as J&A Dearborn, and by 1853 another partner, John McChesney, arrived on the scene. Bottles produced after McChesney joined the business are embossed, J&A Dearborn & Co. Upon McChesneys death (c1855) the & Co continued with both brothers running things for a short while until 1856; when John alone is listed as being in the soda business.
Later 1850 listings for Dearborn confirm that John rather than Alexander became the dominant partner. From 1856 till 1858 Alexander isnt included in general directories---address and no occupation given. Predictably, bottles from this period are embossed, Dearborn & Co.
Apparently Alex was only temporarily gone. By 1861 he again is listed as being in the soda business, along with John. Although his name appears regularly from 1816 onwards he probably wasnt as active in the business as he once was. Later sodas and beers from the 1860s are embossed simply Dearborn, suggesting a single person, probably John was running most of the business. Whatever the exact circumstances were is uncertain, however, by 1868 (there last year), the business had come full circle, with the name once again being listed as, J&A Dearborn, soda makers.
In chronological order known Dearborn bottles, along with their circa dates looks something like this: All bottles are round unless otherwise noted.
The J. Dearborn stoneware bottle mentioned earlier is hard to place according to what is known about the relationship between bottle and directory dates. With only a name debossed on the shoulder and no specific address, its hard to pinpoint a date for manufacture. It may pre-date the partnership by a few years, or have been made during the later 1850s when John Dearborn seems to have controlled the business without his brother.
Another peculiarity is the difference between the earlier and later street numbers for the business along Third Avenue. The earliest listing for the Dearborns are at 95 Third Avenue; the later 83 Third Avenue. Did the business move or was there a re-numbering of residences and businesses during the early 1850s? Hard to say, my guess is that there was re-numbering going on sometime during 852-53 and the Dearborns stayed in the same building, and never moved.
Generally, most Dearborn bottles are rather common, and are seen at most bottles shows on a regular basis. Of course some are more plentiful than others, and if sodas arent your thing youll never spot those scarcer variations, or notice subtle differences in embossment or color. Among the harder bottles to locate are certain glass works molds and any stoneware A. Dearborn bottles. Also any unusually colored smooth based variations.
Hopefully as new variations are discovered the list of known examples will grow and become more diversified and keep us soda and beer collectors on the look-out for additional bottles to add to our collections.
In Part II, the bottles of another familiar New York soda maker and bottler, D.L. Orsmby, and some of New Yorks many cream sodas......
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