What's a pre-Pro?
Early Shots
Cheap Shots
The End of an Era

The allure of the thin-walled whiskey glasses as a cheap and easy way of marketing was embraced fully by distilleries, liquor wholesalers and retailers, hotels, saloons, drug stores (who had long sold liquor for medicinal purposes) and even some furniture stores.

The distilleries and larger wholesalers who were marketing their product nationwide via the mail lead the way in terms of glass production volume, because each unmarked shipment included at least one thin-walled shot glass. The most common pre-pro glasses surviving today thus include those produced by the Hayner Distilling Co. of Dayton, OH., Jacob Rieger & Co. of Kansas City, MO., (who claimed to be "the largest mail-order whiskey house in the United States"), the Sunny Brook Distillery Co. of Chicago, IL., the Detrick Distilling Co. of Dayton, OH., the Kellerstrass Distilling Co. of Kansas City, MO. and Myers & Co., Distillers of Covington, KY. The latter were the owners of the Fulton brand featured in the introduction to this brief history of pre-pro shot glasses.

Hayner Distilling Co. shot glass Jacob Rieger & Co. O! So Good shot glass Sunny Brook Distillers "Inspector" shot glass
Detrick Distilling Co. shot glass Kellerstrass Distilling Co. shot glass Myers & Co. Fulton Whiskey shot glass

A flyer advertising Rieger's Monogram Extra Fine Whiskey, from Jacob Rieger & Co. of Kansas City, MO.  The date is unknown.

The O! So Good glass featured on the top row above (middle) was an advertising premium from J Rieger & Co. of Kansas City.   The flyer above is from the same company and promises two sample bottles of whiskey and a corkscrew in addition to the "Gold Tipped Whiskey Glass" in every order. The glass in the photograph above has lost its Gold Tip sometime during the past 100 years, but there are remnants clearly visible in person.  The gold bands on pre-pro whiskey glasses often shown signs of wear and may often be missing altogether.

Advertisement for 10-Year Old Securty Rye Whiskey, from Security Distilling Co. of Chicago, IL. The "Security Rye Whiskey" ad that appears next to the Jell-O girl on the first page of this series attempts to lure new customers with the promise of a free shot glass with every bottle ordered.  The fact that Security Distilling Co. whiskey glasses are one of the most common surviving today stands testament to the company's success in persuading whiskey-drinkers to buy their product.

Security Distilling Co. shot glass

An advertisement for Green Mountain 10-Year Old Whiskey, from the Green Mountain Distillery of Kansas City, MO.  It was published in a 1900 edition of Munsey's Magazine.  The excerpt highlights the offer of a free gold-rimmed, fine etched whiskey glass with every order.
An advertisement for Green Mountain 10-Year Old Whiskey, from the Green Mountain Distillery of Kansas City, MO.  It was published in a 1900 edition of Munsey's Magazine. Green Mountain Distillery shot glass with a blue-green label.
Pre-pro whiskey glasses with colored inscriptions are relatively rare, perhaps because they were more expensive to produce.  

The Green Mountain Distillery glass at right above has a blue-green label to advertise its midwestern Green Mountain origins. It also has a gilded rim, which added to the cost of its manufacture.  Still, the Green Mountain Distillery of Kansas City, MO. guaranteed a free glass and corkscrew with every order (see clipping from the ca. 1900 Munsey's  Magazine ad above) and the company must have been well rewarded for the quality of its premiums given how common this glass is nowadays!    

The smaller liquor wholesalers and retailers presumably gave away glasses to their patrons on an individual basis, much as branded pens, pins, and other small items are handed out by businesses of today.  It's difficult to be sure exactly how the glasses found their way into the hands of consumers because such details were rarely recorded.  

Elk Ridge Rye shot glass from the Ullman-Einstein Co. of Cleveland, OH. We do know that the E.L. Kerns bottling plant of Trenton, NJ. sold Elk Ridge Rye, which was distilled by Ullman-Einstein Co. of Cleveland, OH.

E.L. Kerns offered Elk Ridge Rye shot glasses (such as the one shown at left) as a reward to help persuade customers to return their empty whiskey bottles!

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