Albert von Harten Ginger Ale Savannah Ga
Albert von Harten
Albert Von Harten, Savannah, Georgia
Turquoise Ginger Ale Style Bottle
Provenance: Mike Newman Collection
Albert Von Harten lived a relatively short life in Savannah, Georgia. He was born on December 15, 1842, and died when he was 33 on September 5, 1876. He did manage to have his name embossed on some very collectible bottles.
Our feature turquoise blue-green specimen is embossed ‘ALBERT VON HARTEN’ and ‘SAVANNAH GA’ on one face of the bottle in two lines of flush right sans serif copy from shoulder to base. The second “N” of “Von Harten” engages the bottle base. The “A” in “Ga” is smaller, raised and underlined. The reverse of the bottle is embossed ‘GINGER ALE’ in a similar manner in one line. The 7-inch tall by 2-¼” inch wide ginger-ale-style bottle has a rounded tapered collar and smooth base. The rounded shoulder and base bottle can also be found in dark teal green and emerald green glass.
According to voter registration documents, Von Harten was a barkeeper on Bull Street in 1869 and a “soda maker” two years later on Green Square in the city. Early advertisements show he manufactured and bottled ale, porter, and soda water at 36 Houston Street, on the corner of President Street in Savannah. At least three bottles were made solely for him, a ginger ale and two pony-style bottles. In the early 1870s, Von Harten partnered with Martin Grogan, a local grocer, under the banner Von Harten & Grogan. They would commission and use two bottles with their partnership name. Business prospects looked good for the two gentlemen.
See the museum example of a “Von Harten & Grogan Savannah GA” soda water bottle. (Coming soon)
On the evening of September 23, 1872, Martin Grogan was strolling down the street with another man named John Nolan. As it turned out, Nolan was formerly employed by competing local soda water manufacturer John Ryan and, more recently, James Ray. In a raised voice, one of the men was overheard saying, “Damn me if I don’t have satisfaction.” Five minutes later, there were reports of pistol shots. A nearby police officer heard the shots and headed in the direction, only to hear one more shot. When he arrived, Nolan was standing with a gun over Grogan, who was on the ground with a severe wound to his lower abdomen. Nolan was taken to the police barracks and Grogan to his home, where he succumbed to his injury.
Albert Von Harten became the sole proprietor again. Records note that he had a large soda water manufacturing business with accompanying machinery, complete with three horses and harness, three wagons, a soda water generator and fountains, bottles, kegs, 15 pounds of vitriol, 16 barrels of marble dust, and many other articles used for production and distribution.
In December 1872, Von Harten, John Ryan and James Ray posted the following in the Savannah Morning News:
We, the Undersigned Manufacturers and Bottlers of Soda Water, &c. for mutual protection, and with a view to do a legitimate and equitable business, to guard against the loss of our bottles and disputed accounts, have adopted the following rules for the government of business, and do mutually pledge and bind ourselves to adhere strictly to the same:
Rule 1. Every person requiring a supply of Soda Water, &c, from either of the undersigned will be charged with and held accountable for the number of bottles and boxes entrusted to their care, and shall be on demand, delivered the same to the owner, or an equivalent, at the rate of one dollar per dozen for bottles, and one dollar for every box not returned or accounted for.
Rule 2. Our Terms will be Cash on delivery of goods, at the following rates: To dealers, per ½ half dozen, 35 cents; per dozen, 65 cents; Per two dozen, $1.25, and no deviation.
Rule 3. No person will receive a greater number of full than the return of empty bottles.
Rule 4. The empty bottles and boxes should be delivered to the driver previous to their furnishing full ones.
Rule 5. Drivers are prohibited from using our money. We will not be responsible for any debts contracted by them.
Rule 6. Parties receiving a greater number of full than they have of empty bottles will be furnished the same by depositing their value with the driver; said deposit to be refunded when the bottles are returned.
Take effect from this date. Savannah, December 27, 1872.
John Ryan, James Ray, Albert Von Harten
On December 15, 1874, Von Harten married Annie M. Weigand at the Lutheran Church of Ascension in Savannah. Like his soda water manufacturing business, the marriage was short-lived because yellow fever struck in 1876. Sadly, Von Harten and his three-day-old newborn died, while Annie survived. A few months later, John Ryan bought the sole rights to Albert Von Harten’s soda water business.
Primary Image: “Albert Von Harten Savannah, Ga Ginger Ale” bottle imaged on location by Alan DeMaison, FOHBC Virtual Museum Midwest Studio.
Support: Reference to Early Georgia Sodas, The Bottles & Proprietors, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Macon, Savannah & Valdosta by David Kyle Rakes and Ferdinand Meyer V, September 2021.
Support: Reference to Soda & Beer Bottles of North America, Tod von Mechow.
Support Image: Auction Lot 83: “Albert Von Harten / Savannah. GA.” Soda Water Bottle, America, 1860-1870. Cylindrical, medium blue-green, tooled heavy sloping collared mouth – smooth base, ht. 7 inches; (professionally cleaned). Attractive bright color. Fine condition. – Norman Heckler Jr. & Sr., Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #131
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