Vol. 5, No. 3, Tuesday October 14, 2008

by dick bales


The cover story of the Fall 2006 issue of Bottles and Extras, “the official publication of the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors” (to quote the masthead), is a review of the national bottle show in Reno, Nevada. The article contains several pictures of the various exhibits of bottles that were on display at the show.

It is somehow appropriate, then, that this issue also features Robin’s “Random Shots” article detailing his pre-pro list of ten most common shot glasses, with a special emphasis on Hayner glasses. (This article is also available through the “Random Shots” link on this website.) It is my belief that a collection of Hayner glasses might be the “ultimate collection,” as it could be the linchpin of a shot glass display that would rival any bottle exhibit.

In this superb article, Robins points out that the “lowly” Hayner glass appears for sale on eBay at least once per week. This ubiquitousness is due to The Hayner Distilling Company’s sales success and marketing efforts. Hayner claimed the title of “largest mail order house in the U.S.” In its heyday, Hayner had offices in at least fourteen U.S. cities, including its main building in Dayton, Ohio.

Interestingly, Hayner’s decline preceded national Prohibition by several years. Much of the company’s income was derived from shipping liquor in plain brown packages across state lines into areas where local laws had already banned liquor sales. But the enactment of the Webb-Kenyon Act of 1913 and its subsequent enforcement in 1917 closed this loophole. As a result, Hayner’s alcohol fortunes dried up, but not before its shot glasses were spread far and wide across the country.

Why are there so many Hayner shot glasses in mint condition? Robin suggests that someone found a warehouse cache of glasses, still in their original wrappings, sometime after the repeal of Prohibition. (Hmmm, now we know what was in all those crates in that final scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark.)

What makes Robin’s article so incredible is two-fold. First of all, it details his discovery that there are at least four distinct Hayner “Lockbox 290” glass variants. Secondly, it offers up admittedly circumstantial evidence that George Truog (the original “glassmaster”) might have created the “horseshoe and barrel with grain stalks” design of the Hayner glass.

It isn’t just Hayner shot glasses that clog the cyber-arteries of eBay. A search of “Hayner” reveals such items as bottles, bottle openers, price lists, and advertisements. A collection of Hayner glasses, featuring all their designs and variants (with large photographs pointing out the variants), together with a sampling of these “go-withs,” would surely be an attractive shot glass display.

Consider, for example, what has appeared on eBay in just the last few months:

My favorite item is the deck of Hayner playing cards. These cards are a souvenir of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. The famous “horseshoe and barrel with grain stalks” design is positively exquisite!

If these pictures don’t prompt you to rush to your computer and start sniping all things Hayner, then go to the pre-pro website. Go into the database and “quick search” the word, “Hayner.” Click on a listing and then scroll down and click on “Find out more about Hayner Distilling Co.” You will be amazed at the dozens of Hayner images that Robin has amassed. But then, click on one of these pictures. You will see that he has collected information about all these items as well.

George Truog may have been the original glassmaster, but Robin is surely just as talented.


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