E. G. Booz’s Old Cabin Whiskey 1840 (Figural Cabin)
GVII – 3
E. G. Booz’s Old Cabin Whiskey
120 Walnut St Philadelphia
Edmund G. Booz, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Whitney Glass Works, Glassboro, New Jersey
Amber Figural Log Cabin
Provenance: Brian Bingham Collection
Edmund G. Booz (1824–1870) was a Philadelphia importer and liquor merchant known for his figural “E. G. Booz’s Old Cabin Whiskey” bottles. Also embossed with his “120 Walnut St. Philadelphia” address and the date “1840,” Booz had his bottles made at Whitney Glass Works located at Main, High and State streets in Glassboro, New Jersey.
The Booz whiskey cabin is a favorite with antique bottle collectors and can be found cross-category in historical flasks, spirits, and figural bottle collections, among others. The cabin is also one of the most reproduced antique bottles.
The Booz Old Cabin Whiskey bottle also carries a number of myths. The first is that E. G. Booz is associated with the origin of the slang word “booze.” This is incorrect. The word is the usual and accepted form of bouse and was used as early as the 17th century, if not sooner. The bottle, however, may have revived and popularized its use.
Another misconception was that Booz’s cabin figural bottle was inspired by William Henry Harrison, whose 1840 campaign for President of the United States positioned him as the “Log Cabin” candidate versus his competitor Martin Van Buren, who was seen as more aristocratic. The Booz bottle and the embossed “1840” date suggest that E. G. Booz was a distiller and provided his whiskey during Harrison’s campaign, but Edmund Booz would have been only 16 years old at the time, and there is no evidence to support it. The 1840 date embossed in the glass may reference the Harrison campaign or the age of the Old Cabin Whiskey it contained. 1859 is the earliest date for these bottles based on an Edmund G. Booz advertising envelope with 1859 canceled on the postage stamp and written on the envelope’s face. Booz on the envelope was noted as an “Importer of Brandies, Gins, Wines &c. 120 Walnut St. Philad’a.”
Another issue is the glass shape and details of E. G. Booz’s Old Cabin Whiskey bottles do not resemble the log cabin bottles of the Harrison campaign. The Booz bottle represents an ordinary small two-story house with a shingle roof and plain, not log sides. The Whitney Glass Works mold maker may have modeled the Booz whiskey cabin to represent glass worker homes surrounding Whitney Glass Works. The glassworkers typically lived in small, modest two-story, four-room dwellings similar to the Booz bottle. Interestingly, a paper wrapper used as a bottle wrap depicted logs.
See the museum example of a GVII-1 “North Bend” – “Tippecanoe” Cabin Bottle.
See the museum example of a GVII-2 “Tippecanoe” Cabin Bottle.
Edmund G. Booz
Edmund G. Booz was born in 1824 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, to parents William and Alice Green Hewson Booz, both of them born in Bucks County. His father, William, was a small landowner and farmer. The first mention of Edmund G. Booz in Philadelphia is in the 1854 McElroy’s Philadelphia Directory where E. G. Booz, 87 S. Front, Liquors, Wines & C. is listed. Two 1850 listings for Edmund Booz (no middle initial) occur in the Philadelphia directory, without any liquor notations.
During the 1850s, glass was expensive, and whiskey was rarely sold in bottles. Instead, customers would bring their jugs from home, or they could buy refillable jugs from the grocer or rectifier. Booz would go one step further, offering a uniquely styled cabin-shaped bottle that his customers would appreciate and remember. In mid-1859, Edmund G. Booz moved his business to 120 Walnut Street and became an importer and liquor dealer. He rented his space from a Portuguese Madeira wine importer named Fortunato Joaquim Figueira. Booz then sold his cabin-shaped bottles to liquor merchants and tavern owners throughout the Delaware Valley until about 1870. Haunton, in his book Tippecanoe and E. G. Booz Too! discusses later variants in depth.
Edmund Booz married Catherine D. Johnson, a woman 12 years his junior who had been born in Philadelphia. They had two sons, Charles C., born in 1857, and Randall C. Booz, born the following year. Both died relatively young, one in their teens and the other in their late twenties.
Booz’s business grew in sales and reputation, and in 1864, he doubled the size of his 120 Walnut Street location by expanding to an adjacent space at 15 Granite Street behind his address. This addition allowed Booz to expand his spirits collection and rectify whiskey for his customers. There has been an assumption that E. G. Booz distilled his own whiskey, but no evidence supports this. Jesse Godley, his original landlord on South Front Street, is a likely source, as he owned federally bonded warehouses on Front Street. Booz’s next-door business neighbor was Whitney Glass Works, who had their retail outlet at 118 Walnut Street.
McKearin lists and illustrates three E. G. Booz whiskey cabin molds in American Glass; GVII-3, GVII-4 and GVII-5, with straight and beveled roof configurations. The original bottle had a paper-label wrapper that depicted an early American cabin or house. The original Booz bottles are almost always in shades of amber, orange-amber or olive amber in glass color, with an extremely rare green-aqua example in the Corning Museum of Glass (GVII-5).
Our rich orange-amber GVII-3 museum example is rectangular and measures 7-5/8 inches tall by 4 1/16 inches wide by 2 7/8 inches deep at the base and 3 inches at the roof line. The size approximates a quart. This straight-line roof mold typically has a high percentage of roof and corner damage because of the thinness of the glass, as it was difficult to blow glass into the roof corners and crevices; thus, the bottles were weak at those points. The later GVII-4 roof mold was beveled to fix this problem by using metal plugs added in the corner peaks of the roof.
The obverse cabin side depicts a tall embossed door with a latch and a large window with four panes to the right of the door. Over the door and signifying the second floor is a small four-paned window and a third similar window above the large window below. The reverse bottle side is blank and smooth and would have displayed a large paper label.
The obverse roof side is embossed ‘E. G. BOOZ’S OLD CABIN WHISKEY’ in three centered lines of sans serif copy set within a smooth rectangular area surrounded by square roof tiles. The opposite roof has ‘1840’ embossed similarly on the gabled roof. On one smooth end of the cabin bottle is embossed again ‘E. G. BOOZ’S OLD CABIN WHISKEY.’ (with a period) in three centered lines of top-to-bottom reading sans serif copy. The opposite side is embossed ‘120 WALNUT ST. PHILADELPHIA.’ The “T” of “ST” is smaller, raised, and has two dots or periods under the “T.” The bottle is considered scarce. The bottle has an applied broad-sloping collared mouth and a smooth base with a circular depression.
The consigner of our museum example reports that he bought this flask around 2010 on eBay for $1,200. As he recalls it was listed starting at $999. “The gentleman said he had found it as a young man in the muddy bank of a stream in New Jersey where he grew up. He had it for 40+ years. He knew nothing about bottles and had contacted an auction house that noticed the open bubble in the corner and said it could bring $2,000 to as much as $4,000. They wanted a 30% commission, so he listed it on eBay but made no claim to its authenticity. It was up to the buyer. I did my research and took the risk.”
Most reproduction Booz bottles can be detected by studying the cabin and roof details, typography details, and glass colors. The Clevenger Brothers of New Jersey first made an excellent reproduction in 1930. Many other look-alikes followed, including bottles marked “Nuline” or “Booz Bottle,” which are of more recent production. The best identification tools and images are represented in Tom Haunton’s book.
On July 19, 1870, a dehydrated Edmund Booz collapsed at his home on 1310 Brown Street, suffering from the effects of sunstroke. He died later that evening, with the official cause of death being brain congestion. He was buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia. After Booz’s death, his store’s contents were auctioned off. The store contained 500 packages of domestic and imported liquors, horses, carriages, harnesses, fixtures, stocks, and personal property. There was no mention of distilling equipment.
Fast forward to the twentieth century, the 1950s were an era when bourbon sales were declining, and distilleries like Jim Beam and others began releasing their bourbons in collectible decanters. To take advantage of this, a Bardstown, Kentucky distillery established the E. G. Booz Distilling Company and released a log cabin decanter inspired by the original Whitney Glassworks design. They advertised E. G. Booz as “a name so famous, it has become part of the English Language” and claimed that 114 years before (using the 1840 date), E. G. Booz “owned a small distillery where hand-made whiskey of rare excellence was produced.” The spirit inside was a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, rather than what was likely a Pennsylvania spirit in the original Booz bottles from the 1860s.
Primary Image: “E. G. Booz’s Old Cabin Whiskey – Philadelphia” imaged by Alan DeMaison at the FOHBC Reno 2022 National Antique Bottle Convention mobile imaging station.
Support: Reference to Tippecanoe and E. G. Booz Too! by Thomas C. Haunton, Fourth Edition, Jerseyana Antiques and Collectibles, 2017
Support: Reference to American Glass by George S. and Helen McKearin, Crown Publishers Inc., New York, 1989
Support: Reference to Booz in the Name and Booze in the Bottle by Jack Sullivan, Those Pre-Pro Whiskey Men!, July 2015
Support: Reference to Ancestry.com, Newspapers.com and Wikipedia.
Support Images: Auction Lot 21: “E.G. Booz’s / Old Cabin / Whiskey” Bottle, Whitney Glass Works, Glassboro, New Jersey, 1860-1870, Cabin form. amber, applied sloping collared mouth, smooth base, ht. 7 1/2 inches; This extremely rare example retains about 75% of its original wrap-around label. Ex Robert Heath collection, Jay and Maxine Jacobs collection. – Norman Heckler Jr. & Sr., Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #210 ($27k)
Support Image: Log Cabin Flask, GVII-5, Whitney Glass Works (maker) Colorless glass; mold-blown; applied collar, circular depression in base. Obverse: in the form of cabin with gable roof; tall door with latch; window with four panes at right; over door small four-paned window and similar window above the large window. Reverse: plain. Ends and roof: on one end inscription “E. G. BOOZ’S/OLD CABIN/WHISKEY”; on other end inscription “120 WALNUT ST/PHILADELPHIA”; roof over obverse, inscription “E. G. BOOZ’S/OLD CABIN/WHISKEY”; reverse roof, “1840”. That part of roof on each side which does not contain the inscription is marked off by squares. Roof ridge beveled at ends. Provenance, McKearin Antiques. – Corning Museum of Glass
Support Image: Auction Lot 234: “E.G. Booz’s / Old Cabin / Whiskey / 120 Walnut St.. / Philadelphia / 1840 / E.G. Booz’s / Old Cabin / Whiskey” Figural Bottle, Whitney Glass Works, Glassboro, New Jersey, 1860-1870. Rectangular modified cabin form, medium yellowish amber, applied sloping collared mouth – smooth base, ht. 7 3/4 inches; (1/2 inch area of manufacturing mold seam roughness on one side of neck, light overall interior haze). GVII-3 A boldly embossed example of this bottle-collecting classic. Fine condition. – Norman Heckler Jr. & Sr., Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #189
Support Image: Auction Lot 8: “E.G. Booz’s / Old Cabin / Whiskey” Figural Bottle, Whitney Glass Works, Glassboro, New Jersey, 1860-1880. Rectangular modified cabin form, bright yellowish golden amber, applied sloping collared mouth – smooth base, ht. 7 5/8 inches. GVII-3 A beautiful bottle with more yellow than normally seen. Fine condition. Ex Hugh Williamson Kelly collection, Robert and Janice Weekes collection. – Norman Heckler Jr. & Sr., Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #167
Support Image: Auction Lot 85: “E.G. Booz’s / Old Cabin / Whiskey” Figural Bottle, Whitney Glass Works, Glassboro, New Jersey, 1860-1880. Rectangular cabin form, medium yellow amber with an olive tone, applied sloping collared mouth – smooth base, ht. 7 7/8 inches; (shallow 1/8 inch flake from top edge of mouth). GVII-4 Beautifully whittled and crude surface. Bold embossing and an attractive bright color. Generally fine condition. Timothy and Christine Hill collection. – Norman Heckler Jr. & Sr., Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #159
Support Image: Auction Lot 39: “E.G. Booz’s / Old Cabin / Whiskey” Figural Bottle, Whitney Glass Works, Glassboro, New Jersey, 1860-1880. Rectangular modified cabin form, medium yellow amber, applied sloping collared mouth – smooth base, ht. 7 5/8 inches. GVII-3 Strong mold impression. Attractive whittled texture. Fine condition. Ex Charles B Gardner collection. – Norman Heckler Jr. & Sr., Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #106
Support: Reference to E. G. Booz Log Cabin Whiskey with Whitney Threaded Cap – PeachridgeGlass.com, March 2014
Support: Reference to E.G. Booz and North American Log Cabins Too!– PeachridgeGlass.com, October 2012
Join the FOHBC: The Virtual Museum is a project of the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors (FOHBC). To become a member.