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TEA CUP / BOURBON (arched) / (picture of a fancy porcelain tea cup) / SHEA-BOCQUERAZ CO. (reverse arched) / SAN FRANCISCO CAL. (arched)

         ID#: RCL127

Glass Category:Liquor advertising
Glass Type:Thin-walled shot
Label Type:Usual white-etched label, gold rim
Dimensions:2-1/4" x 1-7/8" x 1-1/2"
Edmonson:HSG, p. 174, entry #8
City:San Francisco
Brand Registration:1891, 1906
Shea, Bocqueraz Co. listed from 1868-1917.

The Wilsons (p. 131) had suggested that James Shea was originally a Boston liquor dealer, but a descendant (great grand-daughter Peggy) provides the true story (and images):


The Shea family

"James Shea, was born in Skibbereen, Cork, Ireland. His original name was James Sheehy and Sheehy is the name used by his brothers in Watsonville, CA. He applied for citizenship under the name James Sheehy, then changed his name to Shea when he got involved with Shea, Hussey & Co. (listing 1868-1870). It made his brothers very upset when he did this.

James left Ireland and arrived in San Francisco by way of Cape Horn. His fiancée, Annie Shipsey, was born on Clear Island, Cork, Ireland. She traveled from Ireland to San Francisco via the Isthmus of Panama and the couple were married in San Francisco in the 1850's. They lived on Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco, until Shea died in the early 1900's."

James Sheehy (above) and
Annie Shipsey (right)

The Wilsons suggest that Shea, Bocqueraz & McKee were formed when Robert McKee joined the business. McKee is reported to have been the owner of the popular "Tea Kettle" brand that appears on many bottles from this period, but Mida identifies the registered owner to be J Levy & Bro. of Cincinnati, OH,. who had been using the "Kettle Distillery" logo since 1846 and the "Tea Kettle" brand since 1892. The distillery was located in Trimble County, KY.

Snyder attributes the brand to Richwood Distilling Co. of Cincinnati, OH (listed 1893-1913): the source of this information is not recorded, but was probably taken from an advertising flyer or brochure. The name of Robert McKee was dropped from Shea et al. c. 1885 following his death.

Mida indicates that the "Tea Cup" brand originated on April 1, 1891, with Shea, Bocqueraz & Co. listed as sole proprietors. The origins are unclear, but the name is clearly a nod to Tea Kettle, for which they were agents (so noted on their bottles). The Wilsons surmise that the brand was probably of low quality given the dearth of bottles bearing the name, perhaps an indication that it was a rectifier's concoction. It was advertised heavily, as witnessed by the number of shot glasses and signs that survive to this day.

Shea, Bocqueraz & Co. were originally located on Front Street which used to be on the waterfront, but after the 1906 fire the marsh was used for all the debris and later was completely filled in for the Panama Pacific International Exposition of 1915. It is now considered the "Wharf" in San Francisco.

Brand names used by this company include: "Astor", "Carlton (dry gin)", "Golden", "Roanoke", "Roanoke Rye - Honey & Horehound", "Springfield", "Tea Cup", "Tea Cup Extra Old Bourbon Whiskey", and "Tea Kettle."

Company name timeline:
Shea, Hussey & Co. (1868-1870), Shea, Bocqueraz & McKee (1871-1887), Shea, Bocqueraz & Co. (1888-1903), Shea, Bocqueraz Co. (1903-1917)

Address timeline:
SW cor Front & Jackson (1868-1896), 527 Front (1896-1898), 525 Market (1899-1906), 509-517 Mission (1907-1917)

Find out more about Shea, Bocqueraz Co.
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