we actually have an alternate means of finding out about the existence of
Anchor Rye. For many years, Bob Snyder has been researching the
pre-pro liquor industry; he is founder of the Snyder Whiskey Research
Center. He collects, researches and collates brand names used
by the old distillers. In 2002, he published a list of some 7,000 brand
names with the name and address of the brand owner and date of
registration where applicable. The publication is called "Whiskey
Brands" and can still be obtained by contacting Bob Snyder directly
(for full details, see the page on Research
Texts). The list is arranged by brand name rather than owner, but
it doesn't require too much effort to scan the list and locate the
two entries for Humphrey & Martin, one under "Bouquet"
and the other under "Anchor".
(In 2006, Whiskey Brands was converted to electronic form and incorporated into a searchable database here at www.prep-pro.com).
At this juncture, the only way to learn more about Humphrey & Martin is to get off our rumps and pay a visit to the local library. Luckily for me, the Philadelphia Free Library is only a few minutes walk from where I work, so one lunchtime I wandered down the road and sauntered in. I headed for the business section and asked a handy librarian to point me in the right direction. She looked unreassuringly perplexed when I explained the purpose of my visit but she did come up with a wonderful old text published in 1895 entitled "Philadelphia, Old and New".
The book was an advertising vehicle of its day and after a few introductory pages extolling the cultural, intellectual, and industrial might of the city, there follows pages and pages of descriptions of local businesses. Some only amount to a brief paragraph but others fill an entire page and are lavishly illustrated by the business owners and their premises. There were several liquor dealers among them, none of which sounded familiar, but this was not surprising given that the year was 1895 and shot glasses from this period are rare. Some photographs from the book are reproduced below.
I've since acquired shots from several of these dealers who apparently survived into the shot hay-day. There was no mention of Humphrey & Martin, even though the "established" date mentioned on the letterhead is 1860 and hence they were clearly extant at this time.
At this point I realized I needed professional help and that came in the form of a local digger, Bob Daly. Diggers (both privy and pocketbook) have been researching the history of bottles for much longer than shot collectors and they can be of enormous help in pinning down the origins of shot glasses. Bottle shows are a good way of meeting bottle collectors who are interested in your favorite town, and even small towns usually have a bottle club that meets on a regular basis. Even better, many of these clubs have published books or lists of known bottles from the area and these can be a gold mine of information.
I found Bob Daly through a want-ad in Antique Bottle and Glass Collector magazine. His ad expressed an interest in Philadelphia bottles of all kinds, so he seemed like a likely expert on the area. Unfortunately our temporal interest envelopes do not overlap - his ends at around 1870 and mine begins somewhere around 1900, but Bob turned out to be extremely helpful in getting me started on my library research. He patiently guided me through the process in a series of e-mails and I owe him a great debt of gratitude in that regard. Many thanks Bob. So it's back to the library....
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