A Wood Pittsg Pa

Provenance: Doug Shutler Collection

The city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is located at the confluence of the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River, forming the Ohio River. By the 1840s, Pittsburgh had grown to be one of the largest cities west of the Allegheny Mountains and was a vital link to the Atlantic coast and Midwest. A look at mid-1800 Pittsburgh city directories shows a city of prospering businesses and commerce including glassmaking and breweries.

Our museum example of an emerald green cylindrical container is in a Porter bottle form. Porter is a dark brown bitter beer brewed from malt partly charred or browned by drying at a high temperature. The bottle is embossed in large letters, ‘A WOOD’ (1st line), ‘PITTSG’ (2nd line, the “G is raised), and ‘PA’ (3rd line, flush right). The bottle was made in a two-leaf mold and has a double tapered collar or mouth and a deep iron pontil.

Soda water and beer were bottled in a limited array of bottle shapes and were typically round in cross-section. Square, rectangular, or other body shapes were almost unknown. Soda, beer, and ale being carbonated had to be contained in thick glass bottles since such a shape is inherently stronger than other shapes. The thick glass also helped maintain the longevity of the bottle because of extensive post-bottling handling and use since the bottles were typically re-used many times, as evidenced by extensive base and side wear seen on most examples.

Adam and Abraham Wood

Adam and Abraham Wood were most likely brothers who were in the brewery business as early as 1845 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Harris’s 1847 General Business Directory of the cities of Pittsburgh & Allegheny lists Abraham Wood as a brewer at the corner of Spring and Carson while Adam Wood was listed as a brewer located at Harrison and Liberty.

They were both born in England, Adam around 1812 and Abraham around 1817 according to the 1850 United States Federal Census which also listed them as brewers. That same year, the two partnered as A. & A. Wood at the same Harrison and Liberty Street address as Adam Wood. An 1850 Fahnestock’s Pittsburgh Directory advertisement that year reads, “A. & A. Wood, Brewers of Ale, Porter & Brown Stout, and Dealer in Malt & Hops. Corner of Harrison and Liberty Streets, Pittsburgh, Pa.”

A Dissolution of Partnership notice was placed in the Pittsburgh Daily Post on April 6, 1855, reading, “the Partnership heretofore existing under the style of A. & A. Wood, Pittsburgh, Pa., and A. A. Wood & Co. St. Louis, Mo., was, by mutual consent, dissolved on the 27th day of March 1855. Adam Wood, Abram Wood, J. C. Myers.”

The Phoenix Steam Brewery run by Spencer & Garrard placed advertisements in 1860 saying they were the successors to Adam Wood, Pittsburgh, Penna. They were located at the corner of Smallman and Wilken’s Street in the Ninth Ward, and at Point Malt House and Granary addressed at 17 Water Street. They specialized in celebrated cream, pale and amber ales, porter, and brown stout. Adam Wood was connected with the concern as “Brewer and General Manager.” In 1862, the Wood & Hughes Brewery opened and would close in 1870.

Primary Image: The A Wood porter bottle imaged by the FOHBC Virtual Museum midwest studio by Alan DeMaison.

Support: Reference to Soda & Beer Bottles of North America, Tod von Mechow

Support: Reference to The American Pontiled Soda Database Project

Support: Reference to A Very Short History of Pittsburgh For Pittsburgh, geography and geology have been destiny by William S. Dietrich II, Pittsburgh Quarterly, 2008 Fall

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