Bear Grass Kentucky Bourbon

Provenance: Richard T. Siri Collection

The museum is pleased to present a Bear Grass Kentucky Bourbon bottle by Herman Braunschweiger and Edward H. Bumsted who were sole agents for the brand in San Francisco, California. This very rare, applied top bottle was only produced for a year or so making it hard to come by. The glass is usually a lighter shade of amber making our darker example exemplary. There are also clear examples that include four with tooled tops and one clear example with an applied top.

On an adjacent museum gallery display shelf, we have the Pioneer Walking Bear bottle by Fenkhausen & Braunschweiger. That bottle is dated circa 1880 and 1881 when the two were partners. The Bear Grass Kentucky Bourbon follows when Braunschweiger leaves Fenkhausen and partners with Edward H. Bumsted. We can date it from 1883 to 1884. Both bottles are pictured side-by-side below for comparison.

Herman Braunschweiger was born on October 24, 1839, in Braunschweig, Germany. He was naturalized as a citizen of the United States in New Orleans, Louisiana on May 25, 1868.

Braunschweiger moved to San Francisco and partners with Amandus Fenkhausen importing and selling wine and liquors on the northwest corner of Front and Sacramento Streets in 1875 and 1876. Their business was named A. Fenkhausen & Co. In 1880 and 1881 they change the name of their concern to Fenkhausen & Braunschweiger snd have relocated to 414 Front Street. Edward H. Bumsted was listed as a traveling agent so he would have been selling the Pioneer Bear Whiskey.

Braunschweiger would leave Fenkhausen as he partners next with Bumsted and they name their business Braunschweiger & Bumsted. In 1882, they are selling Hibernia Stomach Bitters, Golden Anchor, Golden Chief, Golden Rule, Golden Cupid, and Silver Wedding liquors. They are now located at 223 California Street up until 1884.

The pair announce a Dissolution of Copartnership on August 9, 1884 in the Daily Alta California. Braunschweiger & Co. is launched that year and was announced in the same newspaper. They would prosper for a decade. Along the way, his son Edward would join him in business as a bookkeeper.

Listings from 1891 to 1894 show Braunschweiger & Co. (incorporated), as importers and wholesale dealers in wines and liquors still located at 223 California Street according to the City Directories for San Francisco, California.

From 1896 to 1904, Braunschweiger & Co. lists Herman Braunschweiger as president, Edward Braunschweiger, secretary, and treasurer and again note that they are importers and liquor merchants. They move and are now located at 5–7 Drumm with a telephone number Main 1646. The great 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed the company premises but Herman rebuilt and continued the business until retirement in 1913. Edward would continue the business.

Support: Reference to Whiskey Bottles of the Old West by John L. Thomas, Peachridge Glass, and Western Whiskey Gazette.

Support: Reference to Peachridge Glass, and Western Whiskey Gazette web sites.

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