A.P. Hotaling Old Bourbon Whiskey – Sydney

Provenance: Richard T. Siri Collection

In 1883, Anson P. Hotaling’s successful ventures in Australia led him to trademark a brand of whiskey, especially for the Colonies. This time, he chose Sydney, New South Wales, and the Barron, Moxham Co. as his agents. The new brand was to be known as “Kangaroo” and featured a boldly embossed “Roo” on the bottle’s face. The bottles were blown in San Francisco, filled at Hotaling’s Jackson Street warehouse, and shipped to New South Wales.

To date, the Kangaroo Old Bourbon Whiskey bottles remain extremely rare, with only a handful coming to light, and only one actually making it to the United States. We are fortunate to have it in our museum collection.


The exact dates for Hotaling’s business interests in Oregon and Washington have been difficult to pin down. The legal structure of the Hotaling companies is very confusing, to say the least. It is apparent that Hotaling operated at least two liquor businesses that were separated from his San Francisco company. At issue with researchers is the often incorrect naming of the companies in newspapers and other sources. Branch Hotaling outlets were operated in Boise, Idaho, and Spokane, Washington that has not been investigated and that produced no known bottles. The proper names of Hotaling’s businesses were not clear to early newspaper writers as well, which confuses research. Portland, Oregon, was the earliest northwest town where Hotaling established a store.

Newspaper and directory listings imply a start date of at least July 1873 to about 1883. In 1883, the Portland branch business was incorporated, with the new naming style of ‘The A. P. Hotaling Co.’, lasting until 1894, when it was purchased by Rothchild Bros. of Portland. Therefore, the Hotaling bottles from Oregon would be embossed as ‘A. P. Hotaling & Co.’ from 1873 to 1883. Those embossed ‘A. P. Hotaling Co.’ would be made from 1883 to 1894. It is currently not possible to determine exactly when bottles were blown within each of the date ranges and can only be assumed that the applied top specimens were made prior to those with tooled tops.


The Seattle branch of Hotaling was a separate legal entity from that of the Portland operations. The A. P. Hotaling Co. of Puget Sound began as an incorporated company and is first noted in Washington newspapers in August 1883. John C. Nixon played a major role in this ‘branch’ of the Hotaling liquor empire. Homer L. Algar and John Cleaver Nixon established the Grotto Saloon in Seattle in 1875. Nixon was born in Cumberland County, New Jersey, on July 12, 1846. He served in the Civil War and in 1874 he arrived in Seattle. The partnership of Algar & Nixon was dissolved on March 1, 1878. Homer sold out to his brother, Frank C. Algar, who then continued in partnership with John C. Nixon. Algar then sold out to Nixon in 1878 who continued the Grotto Saloon until August 1882 when he sold out to E. K. Cowles. Nixon then became the wholesale agent for A. P. Hotaling & Co. of San Francisco, operating as J. C. Nixon & Co.

About January 1883, A. P. Hotaling created a joint-stock company in Seattle with Hotaling keeping half, and the other half was held by J. C. Nixon and H. S. Algar. At that time the company was christened “The A. P. Hotaling Company of Puget Sound”. It opened for business in November 1883, with Nixon as president and manager. As president of The A. P. Hotaling Co. of Puget Sound, J. C. Nixon purchased the liquor business of L. L. Gale & Co. in Port Townsend, Washington.

By 1893, Nixon separated from The A.P. Hotaling Co. of Puget Sound and entered into a partnership with McConnell, as Nixon & McConnell, wholesale and retail liquor dealers. It is also noted that for years he was president and manager of the A. P. Hotaling Co. in Seattle. Nixon & McConnell were declared insolvent in July 1897. Nixon died in Seattle on August 18, 1897, from complications of diabetes.

There is a notable exception to the Hotaling family of embossed bottles with respect to dating based on the precise company name and/or address molded into the glass. The PMSS Co. bottle is embossed with ‘P.M.S.S. Co. BOTTLED BY A. P. HOTALING Co. SAN FRANCISCO CAL.’ The precise name style of Hotaling’s San Francisco business never dropped the ampersand in its name. This may easily be explained away as an error, since, as noted earlier, it was often misspelled in its written form. Nevertheless, the bottle could easily date to the late 1880s or early 1890s. The glass is typical of German manufacture.

See the museum example of the P.M.S.S. Pacific Mail Steamship Co. bottle by Anson P. Hotaling.

Support: Primary research and historical write-up by Eric McGuire.

Support Image: “Kangaroo” circular for The Genuine Bourbon Whiskey from the Michael Dolcini collection.

Support Image: A.P. Hotaling & Co. Importers & Dealers in Fine Wines & Liquors. San Francisco, California advertisement from the Michael Dolcini collection.

Support: Reference to Whiskey Bottles of the Old West by John L. Thomas, 2002

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