Vol. I, No. 3, Saturday September 3, 2004

by dick bales

Surely most collectors will agree that Sunny Brook shot glasses are found on eBay about as frequently as reruns of "Law and Order" appear on cable television. Nonetheless, the seemingly lowly Sunny Brook can form the basis of a respectable shot glass collection.

The pre-pro data base indicates that although the Sunny Brook distillery was located in Louisville, Kentucky, it was a Chicago-based firm that was owned by Rosenfield Bros.

The first glass pictured here indicates that Sunny Brook was the only whiskey awarded the grand prize and gold medal at the 1904 Worldís Fair. Barbara Edmonson in Historic Shot Glasses says that there was "contention and scandal" concerning this award, as Jack Daniels also apparently received a gold medal. This particular glass has 14 vertical panels; I have another one with 11 panels.

The second glass appears to be the rarest one in my Sunny Brook collection. Bearing the familiar words, "SUNNY BROOK THE PURE FOOD WHISKEY," it adds at the bottom, BRASSY & CO. DISTRIB. SAN JOSE, CAL." Ms. Edmonson in Old Advertising Spirits Glasses points out that the Sunny Brook slogan reflects the war between the bourbon and straight whiskey firms and the blended and rectified spirits manufacturers. This battle resulted in a 1906 declaration that only the former were true or pure whiskeys; the latter were imitation whiskies. This decision was reversed in 1909. This second glass bears no flat panels.

The third glass reads simply "SUNNY BROOK THE PURE FOOD WHISKEY." This glass, too, has no flat panels, but I have another with 14 panels. (By the way, I have found that the easiest way to count the panels is to hold the glass in front of you with the etching facing away from you and look through the inside of the glass at the etching in the front. Find some part of the etching on a panel that you can use as your starting point and then start counting. If necessary, move the glass around, looking through the glass at various backgrounds until you find one that allows you to distinguish the panels. Keep track with your finger as you rotate the glass, counting the panels as you go around.)

We have all seen the ubiquitous Sunny Brook Inspector peering out from the eBay auction pages. Variations of this glass abound. All the Inspectors I have seen so far have flat panels; I have them with 11 panels, 12 panels, 13 panels, 16 panels, and 20 panels. They come in various sizes, too. Compare the fourth glass shown here (16 panels) with the fifth glass, a 20-paneled monster that is two and one-half inches high! (I have another one with 20 panels that is only two and one-quarter inches high.)

So what, you sniff? You say you donít want a dozen pair of Inspector eyes staring at you from your display case? An understandable thought, but think about this. Think of the research information that one can obtain simply by collecting even just the Inspector variants! Barbara Edmonson lists the Inspector has having no panels and 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 19, and 20 panels. In just a few months I have found this 16 paneled Inspector variant that is not listed in either one of Barbaraís books. Just think; I purchased an unlisted Edmonson shot glass for just a few dollars!

And Ms. Edmonsonís books indicates that there are other Sunny Brook glasses out there that I donít even have yet. For example, there are versions of the second and third glass pictured here that include the words "HALL LUHRS & CO." I may have missed it, but so far I have not even seen one of these glasses offered on eBay in recent months. Barbara also mentions a "BRASSY & CO." variant that she lists at a respectable price of $65-$75!

It seems clear that one can enjoy shot glass collecting and even contribute towards our knowledge of shot glass variants without spending a lot of money. There are other benefits, too. There is less concern about last minute sniping that drives the glass prices upward. If you miss one on eBay, you can still sit back and relax, content with the knowledge that another one is likely to come around in the not too distant future. Finally, I have always felt that much of the joy of collecting comes in the hunt. With the countless Sunny Brook variants to be found, you can start a Sunny Brook collection, knowing that you will be trolling eBay, bottle shows, and antique stores for a long time before you amass a comprehensive collection.


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