Vol. 3, No. 6, Monday February 19, 2007

by dick bales

Hanging Around Arkansas with lakerdude, Elvis, and a Judge








This "Holberg & Co" glass from Fort Smith, Arkansas, was recently sold on eBay. Even though it is a "text only" glass, I felt that it should have been a contender for "Shot of the Week."

 Unfortunately, the glass didnít make the cut. (This was undoubtedly due to the glassmasterís prejudice against any glass that doesnít have a pretty picture on the front.) No matter; it is certainly worthy for being featured in "The Common Stuff."

Or maybe not, because this glass is anything but common. It attracted only four bidders, lakerdude, the genuineflask, xbottleman, and the winner, hawgzfan5, yet it managed to sell for $75.00! Why did such a nondescript glass sell for so much money? The reason is simple. If you go into the pre-pro database and look at the list of Arkansas glasses, you will see, one, less than a handful of Arkansas glasses are listed, and two, this glass is not one of them. Indeed, Barbara Edmonson makes the comment on page 152 of Old Advertising Spirits Glasses that "Arkansas glasses are really scarce." Conclusion: an unlisted Arkansas glass is very likely especially scarce.

But not all states are like Arkansas. I am pretty fortunate. I live in Illinois, a state that is home to dozens and dozens of pre-pro shot glasses. Indeed, some of the most desirable pre-pro glasses in existence hail from the Land of Lincoln. For example, in the last paragraph of Robinís Kevin Wade interview, Kevin comments that Chicagoís "Morning Joy" glass is one of his favorites.

Consequently, it is easy for me to specialize in Illinois glasses. On the other hand, consider poor lakerdude, who lives in Arkansas. If he were to concentrate on razorback glasses, he would be able to count his collection on the fingers of just one hand! (Hmmm, sounds like the ideal specialty for Dr. Richard Kimbleís "Fugitive" nemesis.)

It appears that Fort Smith, Arkansas, is every bit as unusual as this glass. Fort Smith was founded in 1817 as a military settlement; the men stationed there would patrol the nearby Indian Territory. The fort was abandoned in 1824, but by then a town had formed alongside the fort. In 1838 the fort was reoccupied, but was again abandoned in 1871. The town, though, survived these various comings and goings.

Pictured here are the original barracks of the fort.

Fort Smith was a major stop along the so-called "Trail of Tears," the 1838 forced relocation of the Cherokee Indian tribe. The town also played a prominent role in the Civil War as Arkansasís westernmost Federal outpost.

One of Fort Smithís most notable historic figures was Judge Isaac Parker. He served as a U.S. District judge from 1875 to 1896. He was nicknamed the "Hanging Judge" because in his first term, he tried eighteen people for murder, convicted fifteen of them, and sentenced eight of those to die. He hanged six of the eight on one day. During the course of his career at Fort Smith, Parker sentenced 160 people to hang. (156 men, four women.) Of these, 79 were executed on the gallows. The rest died in jail, appealed their sentences, or were pardoned. His courthouse is now a national historic site, where, it is said, more men were put to death by the U.S. Government than in any other place in American History.

Parkerís efforts to bring law and order to the "Wild West" have been memorialized in numerous books and movies; the latter include the two John Wayne westerns, "True Grit" and "Rooster Cogburn" and the Clint Eastwood classic, "Hang Ďem High."

Shown here is a reconstruction of Parkerís gallows.

Fort Chaffee eventually replaced Fort Smith. When Elvis Presley entered the U.S. Army in 1958, he did his basic training at Fort Chaffee. It was here where he got his famous G.I. haircut and allegedly coined the phrase, "hair today, gone tomorrow" in a comment to the news media.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find any information on Holberg & Company. (However, I did discover that the Fort Smith Hiram Walker plant is the only facility outside of Mexico that bottles and distributes Kahlua.) Nonetheless, it seems clear that this seemingly "common" text-only glass is a true rarity that comes from a very unusual town.


From the mailbag:
A few weeks ago junkmoney e-mailed me with a couple comments on my last column on "series" glasses.  n this column I mentioned that I knew of only three series glasses: The A.M. Smith "Merry Xmas" glasses, the German Baptist Conference glasses, and the Burrichter Bros. glasses. Junkmoney pointed out that the "Magnolia" glasses are also a fine set of series glasses.

In this same column, I stated that there were at least thirteen A.M. Smith "Merry Xmas" glasses. Junkmoney pointed out that there are over twenty glasses in the set. Thanks, Bill, for your comments!

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

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