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  • Item Category: Glass
  • Source: eBay
  • Sold Date: Jul 17,2008
  • Channel: Online Auction

You are bidding on an outstanding square HANNIS DISTILLING CO square whiskey bottle. It stands a full 8-3/4" tall by 3-5/8" square. This is the first suqare whiskey bottle ever produced and was the the result of a marketing ploy and revenge plot (see below). It is a beautiful shade of deep golden amber and has a hand ftooled double collar mouth. It is nicely embossed on the front panel as follows:




The fun began when the Hannis Distilling Company made the decision to sell their Mount Vernon Rye brand (just the brand itself, not their distilleries). It seems t were multiple organizations bidding, and the successful buyer was the Cook and Bernheimer Company, a wholesaler in New York City. One of the unsuccessful bidders was George W. Torrey, a liquor dealer from Boston who apparently felt personally slighted, and vowed to get even. He bought out the Cecil distillery instead and began bottling his own brand, taking it immediately into national marketing. His brand was "The Only Original and Genuine Mt. Vernon Rye." If you've noticed the distinction between "Mount" and "Mt." you are more observant than Mr. Torrey was expecting his potential customers to be. The resulting advertising war, was highlighted by Cook & Bernheimer shouting, "Square bottle!" ; Torrey countering, "No! ROUND bottle!" Mt. Vernon bragged that it was bottled-in-bond, a significant feature, as the assurance of product quality was a very relevant issue in the whiskey industry at that time (more on that later). Mount Vernon was not, nor did it feel it needed to be, boasting all those World's Fair gold medals. And although Torrey directed his brand from Boston and Cook & Bernheimer theirs from New York City, both brands were actually being produced in Baltimore, which added local competition to the mix. East Baltimore had its Mt. Vernon Distillery on Haven Street (it was called 16th Street at the time); west Baltimore had its Mount Vernon Distillery at Ostend and Russell (now the site of Baltimore's own sports areas). And of course the campaigns also got as much mileage as it could out of the competitive allegiance of their New York City and Boston customers, foreshadowing by nearly a century the recent World Series. But, unlike the Series, New York's Cook & Bernheimer, with their square bottle, ended up the survivor. The 1909 edition of Bonfort's Wine and Spirit Circular lists only Hannis' Mount Vernon.

You will receive the exact square bottle shown in this auction if you are the successful bidder.

Buyer pays $8.79 postage and very careful packaging for this big, heavy piece of whiskey history.

As always, please review my feedback profile and bid with absolute confidence.

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Keep your perspective. Remember you are just a custodian. Unless you're buried with them or break them
someone else will own them a hundred years from now.