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.
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: http://collections.mcny.org/Collection/Cocktail-Shaker-2F3XC5NQ9Q9Q.html . 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.
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: https://www.etsy.com/listing/598129004/cocktail-shaker-1885-patent-m-seips
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: