Chevaliers Old Castle Whiskey – Spiral Neck

Provenance: Steven Hubbell Collection

This bottle is one that you will remember as it has a spiral neck and is the only known whiskey to have this look. There are only ten or so examples in collections so it is pretty rare. Two were found in Hoquiam, Washington, and a third in Astoria, Washington along with two broken ones. Three spiral necks were found near Eureka, Nevada and an example was found under a house in Vallejo, California and yet another was found in Sebastopol, California by a ground excavator. Later another cache was found in Washington state.

The round bottles are typically found in a blue to green aqua glass color and have an applied long tapered collar mouth with a ring beneath. The typography is embossed on the bottle face, ‘CHEVALIERS’ (1st line angled upwards), ‘OLD’ (2nd line horizontal), ‘CASTLE WHISKEY’ (3rd line arched and angled upwards), ‘F. Chevalier & Co.’ (4th line small copy slight arch and angled upwards, ‘PROPRIETORS’ (5th line slight angle upwards) and ‘SAN FRANCISCO, CAL’ (6th line horizontal). With all that copy, there is also a circle monogram ‘FCCo’ beneath ‘CHEVALIERS’. Much of this copy appears to be “dancing” the way the mold was designed. On the reverse shoulder, there is an embossed horseshoe shape above where the label would have gone.

See the F. Chevalier demijohn in the FOHBC Virtual Museum Spirits Gallery.

Fortune Chevalier was born in 1815 in Belle Isle, France. He apprenticed as a stained glass craftsman and together, with a group of similar craftsmen, went all over France repairing the windows of various castles and churches damaged by the frequent wars of the time.

In 1850, Chevalier sailed for San Francisco with some helpers, and a large stock of window panes with the idea to establish a business of window construction and repair. He hoped that when his helpers were fully occupied with stained glass window work, he would be able to steal away and pan for gold in the Sierra foothills.

It turned out that his helpers had the same idea and they abandoned him once they arrived in California. Fortune ended up in Placerville and later in Sacramento, settling into the trade of wine and spirits. There were tens of thousands of thirsty miners and Chevalier established F. Chevalier & Co. with the intent of satisfying his own thirst for profit. The firm of F. Chevalier Company was founded in Placerville, California in 1857. Chevalier became the sole agent for Old Castle Bourbon Whiskey and imported Grappe d’Or Cognac. The business was shortly afterward moved to Sacramento and there carried on until 1870 when the increasing importance of the house and its expanding operations caused its removal to San Francisco. In 1872, its celebrated Castle whiskies were protected by a trademark deposited in the U.S. Patent Office in Washington, D.C.

In 1875, Fortune took on a partner, a man named Comte, who had experience in the wine business. In 1899, Fortune died at the age of 84; his son, George, then managed the business.

In 1905, the company was situated at Nos. 9, 11, 13 and 15 Beale Street, San Francisco, and had traveling representatives covering the entire Pacific coast, besides resident agents at various centers throughout the eastern states. The company also owned the Chateau Chevalier vineyards near St. Helens in the foothills of Napa County, California.

Two bitters products are associated with F. Chevalier & Co., that being Celebrated Crown Bitters (C 93) and Samson Laxative Bitters (S 22.7).

Support: Reference to Fortune Chevalier and the Picture Castles 1890-1919 by Ben Kutzkey, in the FOHBC Bottles and Extras, March – April 2008

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

Support Image: Embossed castle on Chevaliers Old Castle Whiskey bottle – Utah Antique Bottle Cliche

Support Image: Fully labeled Chevaliers Old Castle Whiskey – Richard Burgarella collection.

Support Image: Auction Lot 127: F. CHEVALIER CO SAN FRANCISCO with label for SAMSON LAXATIVE BITTERS. Amber with tooled top. When we look at this bottle, we see the embossing much like a couple other generic bottles we have in this sale. This one having the Chevalier name, and the others having the Roth Company and the Louis Taussig Company. This is one we haven’t seen before and was made sometime around the turn of the century most likely. Great label, bottle is about perfect. We had not heard of this brand prior to seeing this one. – Jeff Wichmann, American Bottle Auctions, Auction 70, Part 1 of the Don Dwyer Collection

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