Vol. 3, No. 5, Friday December 22, 2006

by dick bales

A New Series Glass?

It seems to me that there are not that many date-based "series" shot glasses in existence. Surely the most famous is the set of A.M. Smith "Merry Xmas" glasses.


There are at least thirteen glasses in this set, and the dates range from 1898 to 1914.

Another example would be the German Baptist Conference glasses of 1897, 1899, and 1905.

Shown here is the 1897 glass.

But I realized only a few days ago that there is a third set, the three Burrichter Bros. shot glasses from Galena, Illinois. Before discussing these glasses, a little history and geography lesson is in order.

Galena is in the northwestern part of Illinois, in Jo Daviess County. It has only 3,600 residents in the state, but it is the second-most visited area in Illinois, second only to Chicago.

There are several reasons for the region’s popularity. Although the Ice Age glaciers flattened most of Illinois, they missed the northwestern part of the state. The result is breathtaking rolling hills.

The town is named for galena, which is a lead ore. Native Americans mined the lead, as did the early French.

Because of these lead deposits, Galena was settled very early in the state’s history, even though its location was not close to Illinois’ other settlers, who generally migrated from the southeast. In the 1840s, at the height of the town’s prosperity, Galena’s population was larger than Chicago’s. But as the use of lead declined, so did the town.

But the beautiful buildings that were built by Galena’s first settlers remain. Eighty-five percent of the town is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. People come from all over to look at these buildings, shop in the stores, and stay in the "bed and breakfasts."
Finally, Galena is the hometown of the famous Civil War general and our 18th president, Ulysses S. Grant.

But enough about the city. What about the glasses?

Burrichter Brothers was a wholesale liquor firm in Galena that was established by John Burrichter, J. H. Hellman, and G. Sander in 1844. A 1904 history of Jo Daviess County indicates that by the time this book was written, a son, Frank Joseph Burrichter, had taken over the family business.

As shown here, there are at least three glasses in this series.  All three are identical, except for the number of years in the whiskey business.

(70) (71) (73)
Burrichter Bros.

I was able to buy the "70 years" glass on eBay recently for only $26.51. (Remarkably, though, there were seven bids for this nondescript glass.)  Assuming that the business started in 1844, this glass dates from 1914.

We have glasses for 70 years, 71 years, and 73 years. What about the "72 years" glass? Does it even exist? It does not appear in any of the pre-pro databases. If it is out there somewhere, this "text-only" glass might be as rare as that "DESPRES & CO." Chicago glass that I shamelessly lusted after in a recent "SOTW" article that I wrote. I doubt, though, that it would sell for as much money!

Besides the "72 years" glass, are there any other Burrichter Bros. glasses, perhaps stored somewhere in a Galena warehouse? Did the business fold after 73 years, or in 1917, just three years prior to the start of Prohibition? Regardless of the answers to these questions, it seems clear that these shots are a fine set of "series" glasses that, though "text only," are certainly worthy of collecting.

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