Toddy Culture

Recently someone asked me about toddy sticks.  I was familiar with toddy strainers, I even had one (photo below) for sale in my Etsy shop, but had never researched toddy sticks or, for that matter, anything toddy related.


My understanding of a toddy strainer was that it was similar to a julep strainer, but smaller…a little over 4 inches in length.  But now that my woeful ignorance of all things toddy was brought to my attention, I decided to do some investigating.  I’ve assembled the following tidbits of information for my further reference.

A toddy is basically strong spirits (like rum or whiskey), sugar and water.  It can be served room temperature or hot.  For our purposes here in this post, we will be discussing the hot toddy.  So if that recipe of alcohol, sugar and water is correct, why would you need a strainer?

I found the following paragraph in Alice Morse Earle’s 1906 “China Collecting in America”:


I had no idea that porcelain toddy strainers existed and love that sentence of Ms. Earle’s “I fancy some luxury-loving, toddy-drinking, money-spending old Newport merchant invented, explained to the Chinese, and imported to America these pretty porcelain toddy strainers.”  And Ms. Earle also solved the reason for the strainer, those pesky lemon and orange seeds.  I have since learned that toddy recipes varied according to individual tastes; some put spices and herbs in their concoctions in addition to citrus.

It appears that toddies were made and served in various ways….in the tavern, at home with family and when company came calling.

Let’s start with company.  To really impress your friends and neighbors, you would pull out the old toddy bowl or two.  These toddy bowls were smaller versions of punch bowls and measured approximately 10 inches in diameter.


Many of the pottery bowls were manufactured in the 19th century by Scottish potters, such as J. & M.P. Bell and the Annfield Pottery of John Thomson (shown above, picture from the Scottish Pottery Society).  These bowls are hard to find today most likely because 1) those that have them are hanging on to them, 2) they have broken or 3) those that are selling them don’t know they are toddy bowls and are not describing them as such.


The April 28, 1897 article of The Jewelers’ Circular featured an article on a silver punch bowl and toddy bowl sets made by Whiting Mfg. Co. and presented to the battleship Oregon by the citizens of that state.  Pretty fancy for a battleship, no?  In any case, you can see the relative size of the toddy bowl to the punch bowl.  Ladles were included as were glass punch cups in silver holders and tray. I don’t know if the punch cups were also used for the toddy.


The article above came from the 1908 Stirling Antiquary and mentions that toddy ladles could be found made of wood, brass, bone, pewter and silver.

Another interesting way to transfer the toddy from the bowl and into the cup is the toddy lifter.


The above article, from “Collecting Old Glass, English and Irish” by J. H. Yoxall,  mentions that “The earlier way of doing this (transferring a drink from a bowl to a glass) was by a silver or wooden ladle, but about the year 1800 the glass lifter (which is really a pipette or siphon) came into use.”  This really says something about how long we have been consuming toddies!  These toddy lifters have a hole at the bottom which, when sunk into the toddy, allowed the fluid to fill the chamber. Placing your thumb at the opening at the top created a vacuum and you could then transfer your toddy to your glass.

And speaking of glasses, most likely footed cups with handles or rummers were used for toddies.  A rummer is a goblet like footed, short stemmed glass.  You wouldn’t want to hold on to a hot glass, so most likely you would want to use something with a stem or handle.

The following article from “Antique English Pottery, Porcelain and Glass” mentions “giant rummers” being used in combination with toddy lifters.


Now, let’s move on to imbibing of the toddy at home.


Most likely you would boil some water and place it in a toddy kettle.  Toddy kettles have little feet on them, so as not to damage the table by the hot contents. Some toddy kettles, as the one shown above from the 1883 Army & Navy General Catalogue, have a spirit lamp as a heating source to keep the water hot.  It should be noted that toddies were usually consumed after dinner (in addition to cold and damp weather) and more than one was usually had, so it was important to keep that water warm.

Toddy plates, on which to place the mug and spoon, were also popular.  These plates were usually pottery (Scottish or English) or pressed glass.


The image above was taken from the book “Glass Tableware, Bowls & Vases” by Jane Shadel Spillman.  She dates this plate to 1827-35 and attributes it possibly to the Boston & Sandwich Glass Company.

So, your sitting at the kitchen or dining table.  You have a toddy kettle, mug or rummer before you on a toddy plate.  You would also have a decanter or bottle of your spirit of choice.  And you would have sugar available.  Now you need a spoon to mix the concoction.


The first image above comes from a 1907 Good Housekeeping magazine. The second image came from an 1894 B. A. Stevens catalog.

Following are some interesting snippets from various publications.  The one entitled “The Old Family Toddy” tells of an old Kentucky tradition of passing around the “toddy glass” among friends and family.  Must have been one really big toddy glass.

wp-1541164113761.jpgAnd the “History of Leominster” article mentions that young people setting up housekeeping should have “two decanters, a dozen tumblers and at least as many toddy sticks”. These people were serious about toddies!




The page above is from the 1884 Vajen & New Hardware Catalog, and shows an example of “Muddler, or Toddy Sticks”.

And this brings us to the tavern setting.


The image above is from the 1900 “Stagecoach and Tavern Days” by Alice Morse Earle. It shows the toddy stick in the glass and also shows what is called a “loggerhead” on the table next to it.


The image above was taken from “Iron and Brass Implements of the English House” by J. Seymour Lindsay. These loggerheads, toddy irons or mullers as they are sometimes called, were how the tavern toddy was heated. You would have your mug or glass filled with water, sugar and liquor and the hot loggerhead would be inserted in the glass, producing pronounced steam and sizzle.  I believe each toddy would be served with a toddy stick. The sizzling and hissing of the loggerhead and clinking of the toddy stick filled taverns with their own peculiar form of music.

It should be noted that loggerheads were sometimes also used at home as well, not just in the tavern setting.  Paul Revere is said to heat his toddies at home using a loggerhead.

So there you have it.  If you are a serious barware / bar tool collector you certainly have many items to be on the lookout for: toddy strainers, toddy bowls, toddy ladles, toddy lifters, toddy kettles, toddy mugs / glasses, toddy spoons, toddy sticks, toddy irons / loggerheads.  Let me see, did I forget anything?

Posted in hot toddy, loggerhead, toddy bowl, toddy kettle, toddy ladle, toddy lifter, toddy plate, toddy stick, toddy strainer, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Napier Novelties,Gimmicks and Gadgets

When I came across the following utensils with the “Napier” mark, I thought they were lovely… and unusual.


The pieces are only just over 6 inches in length and the bowls are 3 inches wide.  What were they?  Salad servers, a dessert or ice cream serving set?  What?  The “fork” tips are very sharp. So, being the snoopy sort of person I am, I got on the internet and searched, sure that I would find an answer.  But I didn’t.  I still do not know what the intended use was.  But I did find some very creative Napier cocktail related ads.

Napier started out in North Attleboro, MA in 1878 under the name of the E. A. Blisss Co. manufacturing gilt men’s watch chains. The company moved to Meriden, CT in 1890. During World War I (and again during World War II) they ceased jewelry production and produced war related items such as medals and medallions. James Napier became president of the company in 1920 and the company was renamed The Napier-Bliss Co. In 1922 the company name was changed to The Napier Company.    The company was bought by Victoria & Company in 1999, and is still manufacturing jewelry today under the umbrella of Jones Apparel Group.

Although most people think of jewelry when it comes to Napier, the company was very successful with their line of barware, much of which is highly collectible today.  They manufactured “The Penguin” cocktail shaker, which was designed by Emil A. Schuelke and patented in 1936. This figural shaker is rare and very desirable as is their “Dial A Drink” shaker.  But, for the purposes of this post, I’m going to concentrate on their cocktail related novelty line.


Shown above is the earliest Napier novelty ad I could find.  It came from the November 1922 issue of Vanity Fair.  Remember, the company was renamed The Napier Company in 1922 and this must have been one of their earliest ads.  Actually, most ads with Napier products were retailer ads.  I didn’t find that The Napier Company advertised themselves to any great degree.  The ad above ran during prohibition. They show both New York and Paris addesses and call their flask a “flasque”. The top becomes a collapsible drinking cup. Creative, no?


There is quite a lag between the 1922 ad and the 1931 ad shown above for the three-in-one spoon. Again, this is still during prohibition and there is no mention of cocktails in the wording. They state “it is good for cooking as well as for preparing all kinds of beverages.” I believe Napier manufactured a sterling version of this spoon without the bottle opener.  The Meriden Daily Journal, December 21, 1931 edition, ran an article about local pilots being given Napier “silver jigger spoons”.  I’ve seen both versions of these spoons with “Patent Applied” or “Patent Pending” on them. I have never seen one with an actual patent number. It is interesting to note that a patent for a similar spoon was issued to J. A. Lavin on May 5, 1931.


Prohibition ended on December 5, 1933 and the words “jigger” and “cork screw” were being used in ads clearly related to alcoholic beverages. The Red Cap Caddy ad above dates to 1940 and this gadget was patented on April 11, 1939.  I’ve never actually seen one of these; they must be very rare.


The 1947 Pittsburgh Post Gazette ad above shows the Napier “silver-plated valve jigger on stand” which “automatically releases liquid”.


The ad shown above is from a 1948 issue of the Milwaukee Journal.  It offers two sizes of jiggers, the “jumbo jigger” and the “horse-and-pony”.  I have a jumbo jigger for sale at my Etsy shop:


This jigger is truly jumbo in size.  It is a double jigger with a two ounce measure on one end and a four ounce jigger on the other.  It is over 4 inches tall and has a good weight to it.


The Shreve Crump & Low ad above is from a November 1952 Boston Symphony Orchestra Programme.  Extremely creative design and only 4 inches tall.


The ad above is from a September 1953 issue of the Milwaukee Journal.  The silver gavel like double jigger is for use by the “Chairman of the bar”.


I think the personal shaker shown above might be my favorite design. The base has a built in strainer and the top can be used as a drinking cup (that doubles as a cigarette urn as it says in the ad…yuck!).  It holds only four ounces.  But where do you get the teeny weeny ice cubes needed for this shaker?  The ad came from an October 1953 issue of the Wilmington Sunday Star.


The ad above is from a February 1954 issue of the Joplin Globe.  The graduated measuring cup shown is a classic design….very popular and reproduced today by another company.


And talk about popular!  The “bottoms up” jigger shown in the 1958 Meriden Journal ad above has to be one of the most popular Napier products.


The article shown above starts out by discussing a Napier musical baby cup and segues into a musical jigger that plays “How Dry I Am”. For the “man who has everything”.   Taken from an October 1959 Meriden Journal.


Taken from an October 1961 St. Petersburg Times issue, the ad above shows raised finger jiggers signifying one or two ounce capacity.



The “cat-nip jigger” shown above is another one of my favorites.  I believe it also came in a chubbier “fat cat” version. Taken from a July 1963 Ocala Star Banner.

So lest we not forget, this post started with mystery serving utensils (which are available at my Etsy shop  If anyone has any suggestions as to what these might be used for, I’m all ears.






Posted in bar, bar spoon, bar tool, bar ware, barware, cocktail, cocktail shaker, jigger, mid century, Napier Bottoms Up Jigger, Napier Co., Prohibition, vintage | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tipping Jiggers

A while back I came across a tipping jigger marked “Industria Argentina”.  I began to research and found that there were quite a number of this style jigger produced in South America.  Then, I found a sterling silver jigger produced by Webster Co. See the following photo:


I began to wonder if there were any patents issued in the United States for a tipping jigger. I knew Napier produced the famous “Bottoms Up” jigger and Tiffany produced their own versions of a tipping jigger.  But did anyone actually patent this design?

The earliest patent I could find for this type of jigger was Patent No. 115,831, dated July 25, 1939, granted to H. B. Kaempf.  He called his design a “measuring container”.


Kaempf’s patent was not assigned to anyone and the patent had a 14 year term. The patent description really didn’t say much:


In the August 1946 Plastics Magazine, the following ad appeared.  It seems that Kaempf is looking to sell his patent rights (due to expire in 1953), molds and his established business.  Also interesting is that he is calling this jigger the “Akret Jigger”. Where this name came from, I have no idea.



Whether Kaempf actually sold his patent rights and business, I do not know. In 1939 Kaempf had been offering his jigger in two sizes, one ounce (which he called the “Hostess” jigger, offered in silverplate) and one and a half ounces (which he called the “Host” jigger, which he offered in both silverplate and sterling).  This photo shows the “Host” jigger (the patent number is stamped underneath each handle):


The following ad comes from the July 1947 Popular Science Magazine.  It is showing a plastic jigger, looking very much like the jigger shown above.  It refers only to Akret Products with no mention of Kaempf.  Perhaps he was successful in selling his business and patent rights.


Kaempf also offered a Master Host jigger, which was a 2 ounce jigger shown above.


A month after Kaempf’s patent expired, the following patent application was filed:


It wasn’t approved for many months and has a patent date of April 13, 1954.


Although the jigger image changed slightly, the description write up is pretty much the same as Kaempf’s.  Note that this John T. Jackson patent was assigned to Old King Cole Displays, Inc. I can find no example of an Old King Cole jigger.


In 1959 Frederick W. Rettenmeyer obtained a patent for a “liquid measuring cup” and this patent was assigned to The Napier Company of Meriden, CT.


This Napier jigger was known as the “bottoms up jigger” and was sold for close to fifty years (a good run)! It is highly collectible even today.


The sterling silver “Tipsy” jigger shown in the above ad from a June 1963 “Spotlight” publication appears to be the Tiffany & Co. jigger shown below:


In 1960, Tiffany advertised the “Tipsy” jigger in sterling as “a practical bar accessory that fits over the glass and tips to empty”.


The photo above shows a form of tipping jigger, known as a ” trip jigger”. It is marked “Irvinware Inc. Patent No. 3527270, Made in West Germany 18/8 Stainless Steel”.

This Patent No. 3527270 for “Liquid Measure With Tipping Cup”, dated September 8, 1970, was obtained by Karl-Heinz Weil. The intent is that pouring liquid into the jigger would trip the mechanism so that it would tip over and pour the liquid into the cup below. There is no indication of how much liquid would trigger the cup to tip and there are no measuring marks on the cup. I tried pouring in one ounce and it tipped before I was finished pouring. Perhaps half an ounce? I really don’t think this jigger is an accurate measure but more of a novelty.


The above shown December 1978 Bailey Banks & Biddle ad shows yet another version of the tipping jigger.

The Kaempf, Webster, Irvinware and Tiffany jiggers are all available at my queenofsienna Etsy shop:

Posted in Akret, H. B Kaempf, jigger, Napier Bottoms Up Jigger, roll over jigger, Tiffany Jigger, tipping jigger, tipsy jigger, Uncategorized, Webster Sterling jigger | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

An Old Fashioned Blog Post

I learn so many interesting things researching vintage and antique items that cross my path.  Take for instance those flat bottom or bent tip little spoons with red ball tops that I had found.  They were less than 4 inches in length, were marked “E.P.N.S” and “Great Britain”.  The flat bottom shape to the tip of the bowl seemed to indicate that they were to be used as a muddler.  The decorative red ball end seemed to say that these were to be placed in the glass when serving the drink.  But what drink would that be?

624219785 Old Fashioned Cherry Spoons EPNS Great Britain

I found images of similar spoons on the internet and saw that some people were calling them jelly spoons or baby spoons…which made absolutely no sense to me. Then, thanks to Cheryl at, I found an advertisement that explained it all.

1939 New Yorker Nov.4,1939 Abercrombie

The ad shown above was for Abercrombie & Fitch and was in a November 1939 issue of The New Yorker magazine. These spoons were called “Old-Fashioned Cherry Spoons” and were to be used to crush sugar.  They were also available at Von Lengerke & Antoine in Chicago.

1950 Chicago Tribune Dec.17,1950

I found an earlier ad for similar type spoons in a 1935 New Yorker Magazine calling them “Old Fashioned Cocktail Spoons”. A 1935 Scribner’s Magazine called them “Old Fashioned Muddler Spoons”. The Chicago Tribune carried an ad for these spoons in 1950 (shown above).  In 1952 these spoons were still being advertised in The New Yorker.  They appear to be been offered in boxed sets of eight.  Quite a long run for this design.

Versions of these spoons have been marked “Made in England” in addition to “Great Britain”.  The only manufacturer’s mark that I have come across on similar spoons is for Barker Brothers of Birmingham, England.

There have been many versions of the “Old Fashioned” cocktail over the years.  It originated as what was called a “Whisky Cocktail” which was basically a small lump of sugar, a couple dashes of bitters, whisky and perhaps a little water. That was it.  But over the years, inventive individuals added other ingredients such as fruit, including cherries.  There were those who still wanted the “old fashioned” whisky cocktail, however, and that name stuck…the “Old Fashioned” cocktail.

Many of the early “Old Fashioned” cocktail recipes call for the drink to be served “with a spoon”.  This must have been to stir and dissolve any of that remaining sugar at the bottom of the glass.

Stephen Visakay, in his book “Vintage Bar Ware” shows similar type “drink stirrer / muddler” spoons but the round Catalan tips were yellow not red.  He indicated they were English circa 1930.  Chase offered their own version of the “Old Fashioned Muddler”.

Apparently “Old Fashioned” cocktails remain tremendously popular.  Within the past few years two books have been written solely on the subject of the “Old Fashioned”. In 2013 Albert Schmid published “The Old Fashioned: An Essential Guide to the Original Whiskey Cocktail”.  In 2014 “The Old Fashioned: The Story of the World’s First Classic Cocktail with Recipes and Lore” was published by Robert Simonson.

There aren’t many bar tools that are specific to a particular cocktail.  There is the Tom Collins spoon, which is a long bar spoon which is used to stir the drink when making it  but not served with the drink. There is the julep strainer which could be used to strain a drink but, at least in early times, it was also served in the glass. And then there is the Old Fashioned spoon.  I have learned something.


The muddler shown above is a Napier sterling silver combination mudder and jigger.


And the muddler spoons shown above are manufactured by Barker Bros.  These would make a nice addition to your Old Fashioned cocktails. Both these and the Napier are available for sale at my Etsy shop

Posted in Abercrombie & Fitch, bar spoon, bar tool, bar ware, Barker Brothers, Old Fashion Muddler, Old Fashioned Cherry Spoon, Old Fashioned Cocktail, Old Fashioned Spoon, Uncategorized, Whisky Cocktail | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Bernard Rice’s Sons

In the blog post immediately preceding this one, I discussed Bernard Rice’s family but didn’t discuss Bernard Rice’s Sons’ well known cocktail shakers.

A successful cocktail shaker line offered by this firm was the “What’ll yer have?” shaker.

1933 D89653 Rice

Louis Rice’s description for the patent follows:

1933 D89653a Rice

Although the 1933 patent for this shaker does not show it, the shaker itself contains recipes for 18 different cocktails. The description does mention that the panels are divided for the display of recipes.  Of interest, the patent was filed in October of 1932 and issued in April of 1933.  Prohibition didn’t end until December of 1933. Those Rice boys knew a change was coming and they jumped right on it, including cocktail recipes on the shaker in case you forgot how to make them during that long dry spell. Ha!

For those of you with inquiring minds, the 18 recipes are as follows: Harvard, Jack Rose, Manhattan, Maple Leaf, Martini, Pink Lady, Side Car, 20th Century, Yale, Absinthe, Alexander, Bacardi, Bronx, Canadian, Clover Club, Coronation, Dubonnet and Eggnog.


The above illustration, compiled from images taken from the 1934 L. & C. Mayers catalog, shows three different styles of this shaker.

“What’ll yer have?” drinking cups were also available from Bernard Rice’s Sons:


These cups have three cocktail recipes on each and I believe a total of six were available in a set.


Two different examples of these cups are available at my Etsy shop.

1924 1493501 Rice stopper

Years earlier, in 1922, Louis Rice had obtained the patent shown above.  Although this “stopper” could be used on a cocktail shaker, he did not use the term “cocktail shaker” on the patent as he did on the “What’ll yer have?” patent.

In 1924 Louis Rice obtained another patent, this time calling it a “beverage shaker”.

1924 1509981 Rice

The following Bernard Rice’s Sons ad from the January 30, 1924 Jewelers’ Circular is for yet another “shaker”:

1924 Jewelers Circular

Bernard Rice’s Sons offered many other versions of cocktail shakers and were quite successful. I’m sure they  would have made their father proud.

Posted in antique barware, Antique cocktail shaker, Apollo Silver, Bernard Rice, Bernard Rice & Son, Bernard Rice's Sons, cocktail shaker, Uncategorized, What'll yer have? | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Bernard Rice’s Family

You might be familiar with the company known as Bernard Rice’s Sons.  They are well known for cocktail shakers bearing their mark (sometimes accompanied by the Apollo mark) during the 1920s and 1930s.  But little hard documentation can be found about their history.  Some reference has been made that this company is somehow related to or succeeded Redfield & Rice, a company that went out of business in the early 1870s. I could find no connection or link between Redfield & Rice (James Rice) and Bernard Rice’s Sons (Jacques and Louis Rice).  Let me share with you what I did find.

It really all started with Ignatius Rice (1838 – 1910), Bernard’s brother and Jacques and Louis’ uncle. New York City directories show that Ignatius was in business with an gentlemen by the name of Gustavus Oberndorf in the mid 1860s.  Rice & Oberndorf were manufacturers of and agents for various items such as pocketbooks, combs, brushes, perfumes and notions.  In 1866 Ignatius obtained a patent for a comb design and that same year he was assignor to another comb design patent.

Following are snippets of directories and patents from 1864 to 1884:


The 1867 – 68 Trow’s New York City Directory shows that Ignatius went into business with his brother Bernard (1836 – 1896).  The following article comes from an 1884 publication “New York’s Great Industries”:

1884 New York's Great Industries pg206

The two brothers continued in business until 1891, the year that Bernard went into business with his eldest son, Jacques ( 1869 – 1935 ).  The business was known as Bernard Rice & Son.

1891 New York Herald Jan. 28 1891

The above notice from the January 28, 1891 New York Herald also mentions that Ignatius went into business with William Rice Hochster manufacturing tortoise shell, celluloid, rubber and horn novelties. Their firm was call Rice & Hochster.

Bernard Rice died in 1896.  Bernard Rice & Son was succeeded by Bernard Rice’s Sons in 1897 with brothers Jacques and Louis ( 1872 -1933 ) at the helm. The 1901 Trow’s Directory lists Apollo Silver Co. (registered trade name) as belonging to Jacques B. and Louis W. Rice.  The April 10, 1906 Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office shows the trademark as a “fleur-de-lis inclosed (sic) in concentric circles, with the words “Apollo Silver Co.” between the circles granted to Bernard Rice’s Sons.

I have seen speculation that Apollo Silver Co. existed prior to Bernard Rice’s Sons involvement but I could find no evidence of that.

Jacques and Louis also originated “Riceszinn” a pure non-tarnishable metal of secret composition! The following is from a 1902 publication, Geyer’s Stationer:

1902 Geyer's Stationer pg17 June 12 1902

And this is an ad from a 1902 Jewelers’ Circular:

1902 Sept. 1902 Jewelers Circular

Some beautiful items were made combining Riceszinn and iridescent art glass.  I don’t think many are aware of the connection between Bernard Rice’s Sons and Riceszinn.

Following is a chronological listing of information from directories and publications from 1889 through 1909:

Rice notes 2

Bernard Rice’s Sons continued in business into the mid 20th century.  Quite a successful run for a company with roots that began almost one hundred years earlier.

I intend to write a separate blog post on Bernard Rice’s Sons cocktail shakers.


Posted in Apollo Silver, Bernard Rice, Bernard Rice & Son, Bernard Rice's Sons, Jacques Rice, Louis Rice, Rice & Brother, Rice & Oberndorf, Riceszinn, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Herman Strater’s Hawthorne Strainer

Original Hawthorne strainers showing D. P. Sullivan’s name, the Oct. 11, 1892 patent date and the manufacturer, Manning Bowman & Co. are not easy to find these days.  Finding one with an additional name, Herman Strater & Co., Boston, is pretty much a miracle.


Dennis P. Sullivan operated the Hawthorne Gentlemen’s Cafe and Restaurant on Avery Street in Boston in the late 1800s. William Wright, of Boston, patented a “strainer for mixed drinks” in 1892 and assigned it to Dennis P. Sullivan, also of Boston. It was manufactured by Manning, Bowman & Co. of Meriden, CT.


The ad shown above is from the 1896 Harvard Advocate. Note it says “No Student’s Sideboard complete without the Hawthorne Strainer…” Pretty good, those Harvard students had sideboards with cocktail apparatus back then.


Herman Strater & Sons, located on Sudbury St. in Boston, produced high grade workboards, electric pumps, bar faucets and fittings, as well as copper funnels and other bar sundries for clubs, hotels and saloons. They started in business in 1834 and continued into the 20th century.


How Herman Strater got his name stamped on the front of the handle of this Hawthorne strainer, with D. P. Sullivan’s name on the back of the handle, I don’t know. They were in related businesses in the same city during the same period of time. Most likely they knew each other, I would think.  Avery Street is less than a mile away from Sudbury Street.


Sudbury St. is at the top left side of the above map in Section 11.  Avery St. is in Section 16 in the lower left corner.


Some snippets from Boston directories and other info are shown above.

1895 539965

Herman Strater is probably best known for his copper funnels.  He patented the funnel design shown above in 1895.


The Strater ad shown above is from a 1916 Current Architecture publication.


The “Practical Christmas Gifts” ad shown above was published in 1915 in Vanity Fair. I know I would be delighted to receive any of these items for Christmas. I especially like the “Something Novel” grouping shown in the lower left corner. Note the cocktail strainer at the bottom…I have a feeling that this might be a Hawthorne strainer with Strater’s name on it similar to what I have. Remember, this is 1915 and the strainer was patented in 1892. Maybe Dennis Sullivan had a few boxes of surplus strainers that he sold to Strater.  And note the book…Strater’s famous Recipe Book for Cocktails. I haven’t been able to find a copy anywhere.  This ad was in a high class, popular magazine, Vanity Fair. He must have made some sales as a result. Why can’t I find this book? How come there are no Strater strainers out there except for the one I’ve come across.  Maybe your great grandfather got this set for Christmas a little over one hundred years ago and it’s still in its Strater box in your attic, basement or barn. Go look! It was offered for sale at $6 back then, delivered. I’d be willing to pay a little more than that.

This Strater Hawthorne strainer is available for sale at my Etsy shop.



Posted in Boston MA, cocktail strainer, Hawthorne strainer, Herman Strater, Manning Bowman, Massachusetts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Michael Seips 1885 Patent Cocktail Shaker

In the second half of the 19th century there were industrious individuals trying to come up with a better way of mixing, shaking and straining cocktails. I applaud them for their creativity and contribution to society! A while ago I wrote about a combined liquor mixer and strainer manufactured by Thomas Miller of Jersey City, New Jersey.  Mr. Miller obtained his patent on September 26, 1882 for a mixing tin that had a movable strainer attached to it.  Two years later, in 1884, E. J. Hauck obtained a patent for the first three piece cocktail shaker.  And one year after that, Michael Seips patented his idea for a two piece, sliding top, cocktail shaker.


Mr. Seips’ contention was that the top or cap on the three piece shaker was apt to get misplaced or bent out of shape. His invention eliminated the separate cap and built in a sliding mechanism on the top piece of the shaker that could be moved up to expose the straining holes for pouring.

1885 324173 Seips Manning Bowman

Seips’ patent was assigned to Manning, Bowman & Co.





The following photo shows the top in the “up” position, exposing the strainer holes.


For some reason, the Seips’ patent doesn’t get much play in the published history of the cocktail shaker. Manning Bowman did actually manufacture this design.  An example of the Manning Bowman strainer can be found here at the Museum of New York: . And, interestingly, so did Tiffany & Co.  In Tiffany’s 1893 edition of their Blue Book they describe it as a mixer with  a “patent strainer top” and in their 1907 Blue Book they refer to it as “Patent Mixer with Strainer and Cover”.  Instead of a beaded detail, the Tiffany shaker had a roped design.  Perhaps the seven year patent expired, and Tiffany thought enough of the design to manufacture it themselves.  Or perhaps they had an arrangement with Manning Bowman.  I don’t know.

1893 Blue Book pg114 & 1907 pg163

Gorham also made a shaker with this sliding straining mechanism. They made it in sterling silver, item A3527. Exactly when they manufactured it, I don’t know.

The Seips name, apparently, was spelled both “Seips” and “Seip”.  His patents (there were several) all show “Seips”. However, his grave stone at Walnut Grove Cemetery in Meriden, CT shows “Seip”.  His grave stone shows that he was born January 11, 1835 and died February 2, 1903.  His family came from Easton, PA.  Michael married Eliza Jane Huston on March 3, 1856 at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Philadelphia. They had a daughter, Ida Virginia.

By 1870 Michael Seip(s) and family were living in Middlesex County in Connecticut. Manning Bowman & Co. was located in Middletown, which is in Middlesex County.

In 1880 the Seips family were in West Meriden. Michael Seips and E. H. Manning together applied for a patent (handle) in September 1880.

Then, in 1885, Michael Seips (alone) applied for the patent of the shaker the subject matter of our research.

An 1886 Meriden Directory shows Michael Seips as Foreman at Manning Bowman & Co. (home at 178 Cook St.)  The 1887 Directory shows him as Superintendent at Manning Bowman. It appears that he applied for his last patent in 1902.

The shaker I have listed at my Etsy shop does not have a maker’s mark.  It has the beaded band top (two rows), beading at the bottom of the top section and beading at the very bottom.

My listing can be found here:

UPDATE: This shaker has been sold.

UPDATE: The following Manning Bowman shaker is available for sale at my Etsy shop.


 It can be found here:

Posted in Antique cocktail shaker, cocktail shaker, Manning Bowman, Michael Seip, Michael Seips, Tiffany Cocktail Shaker, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

The J. K. Basye Julep Strainer

I’ve envisioned antique julep strainers being used at fashionable bars in the Gay ’90s, or in a dark speakeasy during Prohibition, and later, perhaps, by Nick Charles as he poured martinis for Nora and himself.  But I didn’t envision a julep strainer being used in some saloon in the wild west.  I guess I thought those cowboys, gunslingers and other sorts were ordering shots of whisky or a shot and a beer or something similar.

Then I came across a julep strainer with no mark other than “J. K. Basye”.


The strainer had a large star cut-out in the handle.  It was tarnished and showed some wear.


The star and the shape and placement of the holes were the same as shown in the 1883 Derby Silver Co. catalog (image follows).  Derby changed that design several years later.

Derby 1883 catalog

Those of you who follow this blog know I love a good mystery and I immediately began my search to discover who J. K. Basye was.

The first thing that came to light was an article mentioning a watch which had belonged to a Colonel Potter being pawned at J. K. Basye’s shop in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The article date was in November of 1880.  Colonel Charles Potter was the stepson of Rhode Island Governor Charles Van Zandt.  Potter was a surveyor for the U. S. Geological Survey.  He went missing in the canyons outside of Albuquerque in October 1880 and his watch turned up at J. K. Basye’s jewelry store the following month.  It was later discovered by Sheriff Perfecto Armijo that Potter had been murdered by a band of outlaws.

In 1880, Basye was located in what is now known as Old Albuquerque.


He moved to New Albuquerque (built to take advantage of the new train route) in 1881.  Following are some articles and advertisements related to Basye’s store.


Albuquerque was a rough and tumble town back then.  Saloons were many and included the Bon Ton Saloon, The Elite, The White House, Fat Charlie’s Retreat, Marble Hall, The Boss Saloon, Railroad Palace Saloon and Zeiger’s Metropolitan Saloon.  Following is a photo of the Metropolitan on the corner of 1st and Railroad:

1st & Railroad Ave. Metropolitan

What surprised me was the fact that bartenders back then were called mixologists. Here are two articles from the Albuquerque Journal mentioning mixologists. The first describes mixologists behaving badly.  The second mentions a mixologist doing “the Tom and Jerry act”.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, Tom and Jerry is a sort of eggnog.


In April of 1882, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday spent a few days in Albuquerque.  The two men had their famous “falling out” there at the Retreat Restaurant.  Here is a picture of Wyatt:


Albuquerque was growing by leaps and bounds and by 1886, this is what it looked like (the red dot shows where the Metropolitan Saloon was. Basye’s store was just up the street a bit):

1886 detail 2nd 3rd

J. K. Basye left Albuquerque sometime between 1888 and 1890, next showing up in Seattle.  The following excerpt came from a publication on the Basye Family history. It is interesting that Albuquerque isn’t mentioned.  He would have been only in his mid 20s when he first went into business in Albuquerque.

The Basye family in the United States, by Otto Basye 1950

Following is James K. Basye’s 1919 obituary:


If any family members are interested, I do have more info on James K. Basye. Please ask.

So, this julep strainer has quite an interesting history.  It could have been in a smash or julep served to Wyatt or Doc.  I’d love to know who actually owned it.  Maybe it was James Basye’s own personal julep strainer.

It is available for sale here at my Etsy shop:

Posted in Albuquerque History, antique julep strainer, Doc Holliday, J. K. Basye, James K. Basye, mixologist, Uncategorized, Wyatt Earp | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Curious Story of a Strainer

I came to acquire a julep strainer with “Central Park Garden” on the handle.


The handle is back-tipped with a star cut-out and no maker’s mark.


Never having heard of the Central Park Garden, I started my research.  It turns out that it was a restaurant and entertainment complex on Seventh Avenue between 58th and 59th Streets.  Looking for an image, I found the following:

1. Hotel

The building right on the corner has a sign “Central Park Hotel”. Next to it is the Central Park Garden (sign on top) Restaurant (sign above the second floor windows). I was curious about the hotel.  Was the hotel connected with the restaurant?  I searched New York City directories and found that the hotel was listed in an 1859 directory. 1859! Wasn’t that about the time that Central Park was being planned by Frederick Law Olmsted?  Searching Central Park I found that the park was established in 1857 and Olmsted  and Calvert Vaux won a design competition to improve and expand the park in 1858.  The park’s first area was opened to the public in the winter of 1858.

Whoever owned that hotel must have been pretty smart as the City Directory was published in 1859 but the information for it was gathered the preceding year.  (How on earth did they do that back then? Have you ever seen one of these directories?  Hundred and hundreds of pages of information all in tiny little print.)

So, it turns out that the owner of the hotel was Hermann Knubel.  The City of New York had acquired some of Hermann Knubel’s land for Central Park.  So Mr. Knubel had apparent advance knowledge and quickly put that knowledge to work.  Central Park was directly across from his hotel and the Broadway and Seventh Avenue train terminus was nearby. The photo below was taken from the train tracks.

3. Music Hall from tracks

But the 1859 directory said nothing of the Central Park Garden, only the Central Park Hotel. Central Park Hotel was located at 902 Seventh Avenue.

Central Park Garden (900 Seventh Avenue), I learned, opened in May of 1868.  It was built as a permanent home for the famous Theodore Thomas Orchestra. In addition to the restaurant, there was an open air auditorium and beer garden.

2. Music Hall

Following is an 1872 article describing Central Park Garden and Thomas’ concerts. Note in the second paragraph where it says “Refreshments and liquors of all kinds are sold to the guests; but the prices are high”.  Keep in mind this post is about that julep strainer.

4.Lights and Shadows of New York Life 1872

The following illustration was in the February 1875 issue of Scribners Monthly:

5.Scribners Monthly Volume 9 Issue 4 Feb.1875 pg465

The Theodore Thomas Orchestra’s final season opened at the Central Park Garden on May 17, 1875.  After that it was used for various sporting events, including boxing, wrestling and walking matches (also called competitive pedestrian matches).  It reopened in 1877 as “Central Park Garden and Hart’s Summer Theatre”.

6. 1903 A History of the New York Stage pg595

Note that the following article mentions that the property was converted to a riding academy in 1878.


The following article was published in 1878 by the New York Times.  It describes a court case involving Warren Soule who had taken a loan and used the furniture and silverware of Central Park Garden as collateral, claiming that he owned these items. However, the furniture and silverware were actually owned by Leonard Appleby. Mr. Soule, unable to pay the loan, was arrested.

Although not mentioned in this New York Times article, court documents show that Mr. Soule took the furniture and silverware under cover of night sometime before June 16, 1876 and sold them (to whom, I do not know).  And this is where the julep strainer comes in.  The strainer was apparently part of the stolen loot!  Talk about a history!

1878 NY Times March 13

Following are a couple pages from that court case I mentioned.  A more complete listing of the items used as collateral by Soule is included.


And note at the very bottom of the next page it states that “Soule carried off in the night…almost the entire stock” of the Central Park Garden.


And this article describes the demise of the Central Park Riding Academy. The property was converted to a theater complex.


This julep strainer is available for sale at my Etsy shop.

The second half of the nineteenth century seems to have been an interesting time. The following article discusses what some working class women did to pass the time.


Pedestrian matches and endurance walks were quite popular in the 1870s. Betting on pedestrian matches was prevalent.  I had no idea!  You live and you learn.

And I just wanted to add the following which provides a further discussion of the Central Park Garden.

1.1911 Memoirs of Theodore Thomas 1911 Rose Fay Thomas building

This was written by Theo Thomas’ daughter.


Posted in 900 Seventh Avenue NYC, antique barware, Central Park Garden, Central Park Hotel, cocktail strainer, Hermann Knubel, julep strainer, New York City, star julep strainer, Theodore Thomas, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments