Original e-compilation by Howard Currier

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What does this database contain?
In the years before prohibition, virtually every liquor dealer worth his salt plied his or her customers with proprietary brands of whiskey, gin and rum.  Often these beverages  were little more than raw alcohol with added flavor and color (often toxic in nature: read a blender's recipe book), but the more expensive brands were blends of whiskies from respected  distillers.  The distillers themselves also bottled proprietary brands which were sold through the mail and liquor wholesalers.  Given that even the smallest towns in the US had several liquor dealers, this meant that the number of brand names in use at this time was in the tens of thousands.  There was considerable overlap in usage - for example, most dealers created brands that they labeled  "Monogram"  or "Old Reserve", but many more brand names were unique.  This database is a compilation of those brands and matches them with their original owners

How was the database compiled?
Nowadays,  brands and trademarks are routinely documented and are protected by law.  In the 1800's, there was no such law.  Similarly, there were no laws governing the quality of  liquor being sold to the public, much of which was of low quality and routinely adulterated.  Some whiskey was of excellent quality, however, and the distillers and blenders who manufactured these bona fide spirits became understandably protective of their brands upon which their reputation was based.    Some attempted to protect their brand names by registering them with the US patent office and these records have survived to this day.  But in the final decades of 1800's, William Mida saw a need to produce a more easily accessible  record of trademarks and compiled "Mida's National Register of Trade Marks - Spirituous and Malt Liquors and Wines".  Mida was the editor of a trade publication and was himself a blender and wholesaler.  The Register was comprised of two volumes, dating to around 1895 (Vol. I) and 1900 (Vol. II).  In 1905, the US Government enacted a national trademark law and in the year that followed, hundreds of brands were submitted and registered by the patent office (read more about Mida and the history of whiskey trademarks).  This database includes data from from all of these sources.

The database also contains information gleaned from all of the paper (letterheads, billheads, promotional materials) and other advertising from the old industry.  Letterheads often proudly displayed trademarks and brand information, while sales leaflets showed pictures of the bottles alongside prices.  Bottles, jugs, and shot glasses that have survived from this era often reveal information about a brand and owner and all of this information has been used in compiling the database. 

The work continues.
Most of the original work on compiling this database was done by Bob Snyder, founder and curator  of the "Snyder Whiskey Research Center".  Bob made his accumulated data available to us through  the release of "Whiskey Brands", a loose-leaf ring binder containing 96 pages listing 7,648 brands and their owners.

This information was converted to electronic form by Howard Currier.  The pages of Whiskey Brands are not numbered, but the listings are grouped in several distinct sections according to how and when the brands were researched.   Howard created section and page identifiers for his own copy and his conventions have been preserved and perpetuated here.  This allows one to refer back from the electronic database to the relevant page in Whiskey Brands.  

The key is as follows (section cover pages are ignored):

pp. sg01-sg65: Whiskey Brands Registered by the Government From 1870-1919
pp. sp01-sp14: Whisky labels registered with the US Patent Office for years 1875-1919.
pp. su01-su67: Unregistered Whiskey Brands Used by the Industry From 1870-1919. (Researched 1970-1985)
pp. sx01-sx16: Unregistered Whiskey Brands Used by the Industry From 1870-1919. (Researched 1985-2002)
pp. sy01-sy03: Another short list compiled in 2002
pp. sz01-sz05: Additional Brands Researched 2003
pp. sm01-sm10: These additional 440 Whiskey Brands were gleaned from William Mida's Register of Trade Marks for Spirits published about 1895.
pp. sa32-sa52: Steve Abbott independently published a small booklet entitled "California Whiskey Trademarks, 1864-1916." It contains brands registered with the state of California, many of which were not included in Whiskey Brands. Brands in the database that came from Steve Abbott's work are tagged with an "sa##" identifier.

As of today, the database contains 11,188 listings.  New brands are added continually, using the same types of research material used by Bob Snyder, including letterheads, billheads, advertising flyers, bottles and shots.  As Bob notes in Whiskey Brands (see p. sy01), "There is no stopping place in collecting Whiskey Brands". 

YOU can help!  Just send whatever information you have (scans or copies of the original material is preferred so that it can be filed for future reference, but we'll take whatever form it comes in). You WILL be credited. Contact the

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