Golden Eagle Bourbon

Provenance: Ken Schwartz Collection

What a strong, proud, and beautiful bottle. Within a large slightly debossed circle in the rich red-amber glass, we see a prominent embossed American eagle and shield on the face of the bottle. The eagle is grasping an olive branch and three arrows in its talons. You would not miss this bottle or a display of Golden Eagle Bourbon on a saloon shelf or at your local liquor store.

A rather late bottle, circa 1905 or so, the typography appears arching down in two curved lines above the eagle with embossed copy reading ‘GOLDEN EAGLE DISTILLERIES CO.’ Beneath the eagle, in a similar manner arching up, is the copy ‘SAN FRANCISCO, CAL.’ The opposite side of the bottle would have been reserved for a paper label for their Golden Eagle Bourbon and Rye Whiskies. We are not aware of any surviving labeled examples. This tooled-top bottle is found in dark amber and red-amber only. It is somewhat rare.

Frederick H. Putzmann (Putzman)

Frederick H. Putzmann, Sr. (1818-1891) was from Brandenburg, Germany. His wife was Elizabeth and they would have five sons and two girls. He came to America at some point and we see him first from 1862 to 1864 at Putzmann & Locher in San Francisco, California. He and John Locher were importers and jobbers dealing in wine, liquors, and distilling at 803 Battery. He must have been alone, without his family at this point, as he was living at the Globe Hotel.

Next, in 1865, we see him at Pacific Distilling Co. (Willam Hesse, Henry Voorman, Frederick Putzman, George Schultz, and Henry Von Bargen) located at Bay Shore and Fort Point Road. Putzman would drop the second ‘n’ in his last name sometime after this point in time in the 1860s.

We see Frederick Putzman next at Putzman, Dorn & Co. in 1871. He was partners with Richard Dorn and Henry Wolters. They were dealers in California and foreign wines and liquors and were located at the southeast corner of Third and Market Streets. His oldest son, Frederick Hugh Putzman, Jr. (1848-1893) was a salesman at Kohler & Frohling while another son, Robert Henry Putzman was in sales with his father. It appears that the whole family was living in San San Francisco at this point.

Robert Henry Putzman

Robert H. Putzman was born in June 1863 in California and was 13 years younger than his brother Frederick. In the early 1890s, Frederick Jr. would partner with Thomas J. Walsh and establish the Putzman & Walsh liquor house at the corner of Pine & Montgomery specializing in California wines and brandies. He would then go out on his own and run a saloon at 19 Montgomery and from there form Putzman & Schurmann lasting from about 1896 to 1901. They were selling wines and liquors under the banner Bonanza Wine Vaults at 341 Pine at the corner of Montgomery. Prussian Bitters and Golden Gate Whiskey was their house specialty. Henry J. Seegelken would then buy out Schurmann and join Robert Putzman. Henry Seegelken was from the old liquor firm of Seegelken & Buckner.

On March 3, 1903, Putzman and Seegelken formed Golden Eagle Distilleries Co. at the same address with $25,000 in Capital Stock. R. H. Putzman was president. Seelgelken was Secretary. Robert also put up his saloon for sale that year.

The company used the brand name Golden Eagle. As noted above, they were located first at 341 Pine from 1902 to 1904. They moved to 417 Montgomery in 1905 where they were located during the great San Francisco earthquake on April 18, 1906, which adversely hurt their business as would be expected. Over 80% of the city of San Francisco was destroyed in the ensuing fires. Next, the company moved to 257-269 Divisadero in 1907 and finally to 430 Divisadero in 1909. They disappeared from the San Francisco directories in 1912. In 1911, we see that they were trying to sell their liquor store, inventory, and delivery wagon.

Primary Image: Golden Eagle Bourbon bottle imaged by the FOHBC Virtual Museum midwest studio by Alan DeMaison.

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

Support Image: Second example courtesy Jeff Wichmann, American Bottle Auctions.

Support Image: Golden Eagle Whiskey shot glass image from

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