|Research Update: 1 Year Later|
Unbeknownst to me, Messrs Humphrey & Martin
were notable among Philadelphia liquor merchants for having embraced
the power of advertising in all forms available to them. Several
additional items have turned up over the past year and I have no doubt that
the next year will yield several more.
The best of them was an exquisite label-under-glass back-bar bottle that sold at a local auction in Sept. 2004 for $1,600. I've also seen a window pulled from an old saloon that featured a painting of the floral design shown on the bottle. Less expensive items have included a Bouquet Whiskey penknife, a bartenders guide that features Bouquet Whiskey, and a Bouquet pocket mirror. I have yet to find a bottle of Bouquet Whiskey with its label intact, although several unlabeled empties have turned up. Patience will eventually be rewarded no doubt.
I've found absolutely nothing that features Anchor Whiskey, so its fate remains an interesting little mystery. It's possible that there was no such brand - perhaps the orginal brand name was "Bouquet and Anchor" but was shortened over time.
The additional trips to the Philadelphia Free Library have helped uncover the origins of the company, but they've left several unanswered questions also. The first relates to the date when the business was established, suggested on the billheads to be 1860.
There is no record of a suitable Humphrey or Martin in the city directories in 1860 - or in any of the succeeding years until we get to 1870. The directory that year showed a Lambert Humphrey and a William Humphrey, who were identified as being the proprietors of "Lambert Humphrey & Bro., Liquors", located at 401 N 3 rd Street. That puts the date at which the company was established as being 1869, although it's entirely possible that they bought a pre-existing business that dates back to 1860. They may also have started out in another city before moving to Philadelphia. There's just no easy way of answering this particular question.
In 1979, Lambert Humphrey's home address changed to New Jersey and the following year he was replaced by Samuel Humphrey. The business was now known as "William Humphrey & Bro., Liquors", but still located at 401 N 3 rd Street.
In 1882, William dropped out and disappears from the directories. He was replaced by John W. Martin to yield the now familiar "Humphrey & Martin", but the business address switched to 237 Callowhill St. Excuse me, what?! 401 3 rd St. was located on the corner of 3 rd and Callowhill, so perhaps they just relocated the front door! This was the only time the Callowhill address was used and by 1883 they were back to 401 3 rd St, where they remained until Prohibition.
Interestingly, John Martin was shown living at the same address as Samuel Humphrey (535 Franklin) for a couple of years after he first appears in the directories. Is was common for men to live full-time in boarding houses or hotels during the pre-Pro years - is this where they met and established the business relationship? Or was 535 Franklin St. the address of Humphrey's home and Martin was an a school chum or the son of an immigrant friend? There's no way to know without help from the family.
Prohibition killed to business. Samuel Humphrey apparently retired and both he and his son (Samuel Jr.) disappeared from the directories in the early 20's.
John W. Martin left the partnership in 1917 but apparently had seen the writing on the wall because he had made a lateral move to the Philadelphia Erdmann Vinegar Co. Vinegar was produced from alcohol by fermentation and was a natural and respectable extension of the liquor business in the years leading up to Prohibition. The 1921 directory showed him to be Vice President of this old and revered company.
It would be wonderful to be able to locate the modern descendants of this old company to get a family perspective, but Humphrey and Martin are such common names that this seems a remote possibility.
No matter. It doesn't take TOO much imagination to recreate this old business. Perhaps if we think about it hard enough, we'll actually be transported back in time to 401 N 3 rd St?*. Come on, can't you smell the aroma of the whiskey in the barrel room next door? It's just a hint -- but I swear I can just make out the clatter of dray horses on the cobbled street outside....
*apologies to Jack Finney, author of Time and Again.
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