United States: Alcohol Trademarks Of The 1800's: California Uncorks The Past

Last Updated: May 16 2016
Article by David A. Kluft

For the last two years, we have published the Trademark Year in Wine and Beer, a catalogue of each year's trademark disputes in the alcoholic beverage industry. That is why we were extra excited on April 21, 2016 when the California Secretary of State announced the release of nearly 4,000 digitized trademark applications filed between 1861 and 1900. These "Old Series Trademarks," registered under California's "Act Concerning Certain Trademarks" of 1861 and the Trademark Registration Act of 1863, provide fascinating insights into 19th Century consumer culture and commercial speech.

We jumped into the database and poured over the wine, beer and spirits marks. Below you can find our twenty five favorites, along with some annotations and links to each complete digitized record. All of the mark owners were located in San Francisco, unless otherwise noted. You can also access the complete database here.  All images are courtesy of the California State Archives:

BelvistaWine : 1893, E.G. Lyons Co.

The "Golden Gate" strait before they put a bridge on it in 1937.

Uncle SamCellars and Distillery: 1886, C. Anduran & Co.

This Uncle Sam is about halfway through his evolution from his origins during the War of 1812 to his more famous depiction on World War I recruitment posters.

Cabernet Vino Rico: 1896, Henry Dechert.

This label would probably not pass muster under today's voluntary wine industry regulations, which forbid advertisements with models or personalities who appear to be under 21, or who are actually under 25.

Münchener Beer, Special Brew: 1894, National Bottling Co.

You can find some history about the brewer, the descendant of German innkeepers, here.

Jackass Kidney and Liver Bitters: 1889, J.S. O'Callaghan & Company; Sacramento.

The "Jackass" name is likely a double entendre referring to the ingredient Jackass Bitters, a Central American plant which appears to be depicted on the label and which is still used as an herbal remedy.

Garfieldand HancockWhiskey : 1880, Kane O'Leary and Co.

About a month after the Republican and Democratic conventions, Mr. O'Leary hedged his bets by registering trademarks depicting the names and images of both 1880 presidential election candidates.

Old Tom Gin: 1899, Wreden Kohlmoos Co.

Historical notes on the use of "Old Tom" to refer to gin are available here.

Wunderbier: 1899, Wunder Brewing Company.

Historical information about the Wunder Brewing Company is available here. A Brazilian brewery appears to have revived both the name and logo.

Philadelphia Lager (Three Bears Drinking Beer): 1881, Jacob Denzler.

Having grown up in Philadelphia, I can attest that this depiction is entirely accurate.

BBB Beer: 1878, Otto C. Lademann; St. Louis.

An early Budweiser mark.

The KnickerbockerBeer: 1895, Wm. Wolff and Co.

The distinctive flying wheel mark of the Bartholomay Brewing Company appears in the upper left hand corner — you can get a better view of it here. Bartholomay, unlike its sister company Genessee Beer, did not survive prohibition.

Old JudgeKentucky Bourbon: 1882, Neumark Gruenberg and Co.

Historical information about the OLD JUDGE brand is available here.

The IndependenceCordial: 1891, Michel Faure; Los Angeles.

The label depicts the French personification of liberty (we think) telling Uncle Sam: "Please my uncle, taste this cordial Liquor!" and Uncle Sam replying: "This is fine indeed, my niece." The back of the label described the drink as "the only superfine liquor electrified to render it hygienic to the highest degree."

The Hub Punch:1881, H. Graves and Sons; Boston.

This product disappeared during prohibition, and was resurrected in 2014 by Bully Boy Distillers of Boston.

Medal Wine Company:1899, Palmer and Church.

"An Old and Generous Wine for Invalids."

Simala Bitters: 1892, Frank Wieland.

Three glasses a day are recommended; half doses for children.

Old Log CabinWhiskey: 1894, Hall, Lurhs and Company; Sacramento.

"Chemists Say it's Perfect"

Blue Gum Bitters: 1886, Blue Gum Bitters; Stockton.

This Australian-themed beverage was apparently a combination of gin and eucalyptus. The bottle is sought after by collectors.

Admiral Dewey Whiskey: 1898, Hugo Goldschmidt, Los Angeles.

This mark was opportunistically registered on May 26, 1898, just weeks after Dewey won the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish American war.

Pipifax Magic Bitters: 1873, J.W. Goewey and Company.

Pipifax, which ironically means "nonsense" in German, was marketed as the "Famous Rosicrucian Elixir" for the cure of dyspepsia, biliousness, pimples and headaches.

Anderson County Sour Mash, 1894, Louis Taussig and Company.

Taussig was a Jewish immigrant from Bohemia who reportedly converted to Mormonism and became one of the larger liquor wholesalers in the West.

Huckleberry Tonic: 1886, E.A. Fargo and Co.

The timing of the registration, a year after Huckleberry Finn was published in the United States, indicates an attempt to invoke Mark Twain's still-controversial Jim character.

Metropole Whiskey: 1899, Theodore Gier; Oakland.

Theodore Gier was a colorful Oakland grocer who became a successful California business leader, was decorated by Kaiser Wilhelm for his contributions during the Boxer Rebellion, and later lost everything when the government confiscated his vineyards during prohibition.


Old PioneerWhiskey: 1881, A. Fenkausen & Co.

Mr. Fenkhausen took his IP rights seriously. The label declared:

"Trademark Patented 1878: Death to Imitators."

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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