Vol. 2, No. 3, Saturday June  4, 2005

by dick bales


Surely one of the most common (and in some circles, even reviled) glasses is the Security Distilling Company glass. But I am a sucker for a series, and so I enjoy collecting this glass in all its variants. And although I like series glasses such as the A.M. Smith shots, I am most interested in Chicago glass, and so the fact that the Security shot hails from the Windy City just makes collecting it even more enjoyable.

There are at least five distinct types of the Security shot glass. The first shown here reads as follows:

Security Distilling Co. / 37 SOUTH WATER STREET CHICAGO, U.S.A.




I have this glass in two different sizes. The first is a monster, about 2 ½ inches high by 2 inches wide at the top. The second is quite smaller, only about 1 and 7/10 inches high and a bit less than 1 ½ inches wide at the top.

The second true variant reads:
Security Distilling / Co. / 37 SOUTH WATER STREET / CHICAGO, U.S.A.
Here is the third variant; note the change of address:




Security Distilling Co. / 69 SOUTH WATER STREET CHICAGO, U.S.A.



The fourth glass is embossed around the base in this manner:

SECURITY (arched) / DISTILLING / Co. / Chicago (reverse arched)

Finally, the late Barbara Edmonson describes a fifth variant in her book, Historic Shot Glasses. She notes a Security glass that reads, in black letters.


The Security Distilling Company was first located at 46-48 E. Van Buren Street in Chicago from 1901-05. It appears in Chicago city directories at 37 S. Water Street from 1906-10. This address then changed to 69 S. Water Street.

But note that the company did not move from 37 S. Water to 69 S. Water. In 1908 (later amended in 1909 and 1910), the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance that changed the street address numbering system. This ordinance created new addresses for many of Chicago’s buildings. (For more information on this street numbering system, see Streetwise Chicago, by Don Hayner and Tom McNamee.)

In a previous column I wrote about the many “go-withs” associated with the Hayner name. Shown here is a Security whiskey bottle that would go well with any Security glass collection. In Historic Shot Glasses Ms. Edmonson writes of a 1911 Security advertisement that offered people gifts like china and silverware if they convinced new customers to order “one gallon or more of our goods.”

Although the Security Distilling Company glass is exceptionally common, it is probably unique in that the two Water Street addresses illustrate how a Security glass can be dated by the address on the glass. (Or is this unique? What about the A.M. Smith glasses with Minneapolis addresses of 247-249 Hennepin Avenue and 547-549 Hennepin Avenue? Did the company actually move, or were the streets renumbered?)

The most common means of dating Chicago shot glasses is by examining city directory listings. (This information is available in the database.) A change of address is a second method. But there is also a third way—by the city phone number that appears on at least a few Chicago glasses. That, however, is the subject of another column.


If you would like to comment on "The Common Stuff", please post it but you can also contact Dick Bales directly at  BalesD@CTT.com




Copyright © 2005 pre-pro.com.  All rights reserved.