Vol. 6, No. 4, Friday July 23, 2010

by dick bales

twit-twoo, I suck, do you???

Belleville, Illinois -Beautiful City,

Not-So Beautiful Shot Glasses

I am a sucker for small towns that have just a few shot glasses.

I first became intrigued by Belleville, Illinois, after I read the following entry about “The Owl Bar” shot glass in the May 4, 2010, Shot of the Week:

"[This glass is] a crappy, faded owl from Belleville, Illinois. BUT WAIT! It has the magic word “BAR” on the top line, so instead of being maybe a $35 glass, it’s actually worth $203.50! Yowza, yowza, pudding and pie…."

Belleville, Illinois is a small city in the far southwestern part of the state and is part of the St. Louis metropolitan area. The city sits above the river bluffs of the Mississippi River. As the title of this column suggests, “Belle ville” means “beautiful city.” Mr. George Blair named the city in 1814; he essentially “founded” it by donating 26 acres of land. Belleville was incorporated as a village in 1819, and it became a city in 1850. It was the center of the first important German settlement in the State of Illinois.

As shown in this period postcard, the city does seem to live up to its “beautiful” name. However, the glasses do not. They are all fairly ordinary.

For example, shown here are two glasses and a whiskey jug from A.W. Herr & Co. Note that the jug indicates that the company was at the southeast corner of Belleville’s public square. The land for this town square (one acre) was originally donated by George Blair.

The “blue” shot glass is a distinct variant that is not in the pre-pro database. Note the unusual shape of the “L’s” in the lettering on the glass.

Here is a glass and jug from Jos. Leopold & Bros.

Other Belleville glasses include these from the Western Brewery Company and the A. Buesch Wine & Liquor Company.

More than anything else, Belleville seems to be a city of contrasts. It’s name means “Beautiful City,” but its shot glasses are fairly ordinary.

Its “Art on the Square” (there’s that public square again) art fair was named the number one art fair in the nation by Art Fair Source Book.

But if you want to relax with a drink after the art fair, you probably won’t go to Kelly’s Show Bar to look at the art.



But “yowza, yowza,” on the other hand, I hear that the “pudding and pie” at the Owl Bar is pretty good. . . .

Poo-Bah's note.
I can usually rely on SOTW to elicit comments from the pre-pro collecting community, and this one was no exception.  Here's one addressing the "desirability" of the spectacularly crappy Owl glass:

"I know the man who bought it. He's a member of our bottle club. He lives in Belleville, IL and has probably the best collection of Belleville advertising items. He has the serving tray and a trade card from the same bar. None of us around this area had ever seen the glass before. So as a SERIOUS collector of Belleville trade items, he was determined to get it. Unfortunately for him there is a stiff competition between the Belleville collectors around here."

I dunno, still looks like $0.01 of recycling to me. Anyone else want to pay $200+ for it? 

I DO know of a nice bridge in NY that's for sale... 


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