Western Spice Mills Mustard

Provenance: Lou Pellegrini Collection

In the United States, mustard, both dry and prepared, was most commonly packaged in stylized wide mouth, squatty barrel-shaped bottles from the mid-19th until well into the 20th century.

Mustard was a culinary requirement during the 19th century to spice up otherwise bland dishes and to cover up the off-flavors of foods in the age before refrigeration and other effective food preservation techniques. Mustard was also thought to be a cure for ailments ranging from congestion to hysteria, snakebite to bubonic plague. 

These figural barrel mustard bottles typically have three molded rings or bands above and below the central copy and label area. Other conformations ranging from two to at least six rings have also been recorded as well as some with vertical staves. Most examples have rings that are separated by a distinct space, as opposed to figural bitters barrels that use tight rings.

See the museum example of a G. E. mustard.

See the museum example of a G. K. mustard.

See the museum example of a H. Baader Mustard Manufacturer Philadelphia.

See the museum example of a Wm. Schotten & Bro. Mustard and Spice Mills.

Our 5″ tall by 2-½” wide example is embossed ‘WESTERN SPICE MILLS,’ in somewhat of an elongated oval, in two curved lines of typography on the face of the bottle. ‘Western’ is arched downwards on the top line over ‘Spice Mills’ which is arched upwards. There are three molded open-space rings or bands above and below the central copy area. The reverse area between the rings would have been where a paper label would have been placed. The bottle is very crudely made and was blown in aquamarine glass and has no evidence of mold air venting. The bottle has a very rough finish with just a bit of grinding done to the finish rim to keep it from being dangerously sharp. The base is not pontiled.

Western Spice Mills was a St. Louis, Missouri firm at the gateway of the rapidly opening West. They did a lot of business on the upper Missouri River as well as downstream along the Mississippi River. 

Western Spice Mills

Western Spice Mills centers around Ferdinand L. Garesché who was born near Trinity Church in New York City on December 7, 1827, to Vital and Mimika Bauduy Garesché. In April of 1839, two Garesché families, including young Ferdinand who was 12 years old, departed from Wilmington and headed to Pittsburgh and from there traveled on the steamer Thames, arriving in St. Louis, Missouri on April 30, 1839. Vital M. Garesché was the president of the passengers’ committee and published a letter in the Missouri Gazette thanking the captain and stating that there were sixty cabin passengers and one hundred on deck. Vital would die not long after in Cuba in 1844. St. Louis in 1839 was a growing city of some 16,000 people. This population had almost tripled since 1830.

Ferdinand L. Garesché entered St. Louis University and graduated in 1844. He was a clerk in the store of Chouteau & Valle after finishing his graduation and was an enthusiastic volunteer fireman and member of the famous “Greyhound” company. His circa 1848 painted leather parade hat is pictured above. In 1855, Garesché married Rosella Marie Hicks and founded Western Spice Mills with his brother-in-law J. Parker Norris. The Norrises had been a distinguished Philadelphia family since before the Revolution, one of them having been designated by William Penn to take his place after his death. The coffee and spice mills were located on 7th Street between Graüot and Chouteau, with an office at 88 N. 2nd.

When the Civil War broke out, Ferdinand joined the Missouri Guards and was taken prisoner at the surrender of Camp Jackson. In 1864, Western Spice Mills was being run by Garesché, Hicks & Co. who was comprised of Ferdinand L. Garesché and Charles W. Francis. The Hicks was probably Charles Hicks who was the brother of his wife. The proprietors were now addressed at s. 7th between Gratiot and Papin. By 1867, there was another change in partnership as the directory for that year read, “Western Spice Mills, Woodward & Garesche, proprietors (Tyrone J. Woodward and Ferdinand L. Garesché) s. 7th bet. Gratiot and Chouteau Avenue. Wholesale dealers in teas, coffees, spices, etc. 414 n. 2nd. This partnership would continue into the early 1870s. Many collectors are familiar with the fabulous Western Spice Mills cathedral pepper sauce bottles. We have an excellent olive-yellow example in our museum that is being prepared for exhibition.

In 1874, Ferdinand L. Garesché was elected Clerk of the St. Louis County Court on the Democratic ticket and served until the city was incorporated under its present Charter. He was then appointed by Mayor Overstolz as the first Commissioner of Supplies. He held that position for seven years and then went into the fire insurance business. Garesché held other important positions such as Surveyor of the Port and was involved with Edison Illuminating Company and other electric-light concerns of the city. He would die on May 16, 1903, at the age of 75 in St. Louis City, Missouri.

Primary Image: Western Spice Mills Mustard imaged by the FOHBC Virtual Museum west coast studio on location by Gina Pellegrini.

Support: Reference to Ketchup Pickles Sauces – 19th Century Food in Glass by Betty Zumwalt

Support: Reference to The Garesché, De Bauduy, and Des Chapelles Families: History and Genealogy by Dorothy Garesché Holland, Saint Louis, Schneider Printing Company, 1963

Support Image: Fireman’s painted leather parade hat worn by F. L. Garesche, Captain of Union Fire Company No. 2, 1848. Missouri History Museum.

Featured Stories

FOHBC Virtual Museum: Now Open Free 2020

Free Entry!

With COVID-19 canceling many events, bottle shows, and public gatherings and closing the museums that many of

Read More


Scroll to Top