Jockey Club Whiskey

Provenance: Stephen Hubbell Collection

The Jockey Club Whiskey bottle is early and was produced and sold between 1873 and 1876. It is one of the few whiskeys found in a sixth size opposed to a fifth. These bottles are very rare and most examples are found in shades of amber. Thomas reported that bottles were found by Owens River near Lone Pine, California and another was dug in Sprucemont, Nevada, and yet another discovered in an old food cellar in a very old home near Dunnigan, California.

George Waterman Chesley was born in Dover, Strafford County, New Hampshire on February 3, 1822, and came from an old New England family. He lost his parents when quite young, moving to Boston to live with his sister. His first job was as a dry-goods clerk in Boston. He moved to Rhode Island where he married Alice Marie Whipple. Soon after, the news of the gold rush was heard and he promptly made arrangements to travel via the Panama route to get to California arriving in San Francisco in June of 1849. He quickly went on to Sacramento where he engaged in the auction business at 6th and K Streets specializing in cattle and horses.

After the Great Conflagration on November 2, 1852, when a great fire burned more than 80 percent of the structures in Sacramento, Chesley went back to San Francisco to sell real estate. He made some money and returned to Sacramento in 1856 where he went to work for Bradley and Company as a salesman in their grocery and liquor business. By 1866, he had his own business where he engaged in wholesale groceries, fine wines, liquor, and cigars. By all accounts, he was popular and successful.

In 1870 or so, Chesley formed G. W. Chesley & Co. in San Francisco and Sacramento who were importers and dealers in fine wines and liquors. He would have had his Jockey Club Whiskey bottles made in 1873 or 1874. John Siebe and J. S. Jones were also listed as being with the concern. In 1875, R. J. Van Voorhies joined the company. In 1877, his agent, the Siebe Brothers, was placed in charge of the San Francisco business while Chesley made Sacramento his headquarters. Chesley lived in downtown Sacramento near the state capital and became involved with civic duties.

George Chesley was a most amiable gentleman, serving a number of years as the President of the California Pioneers Association. He would die on November 23, 1891, in Sacramento. After 1891, E. A. Fargo handled the Chesley’s Jockey Club Whiskey brand where you will see another tooled-top bottle with an embossed jockey and horse.

Primary Image: Jockey Club Whiskey bottle imaged on location by the FOHBC Virtual Museum midwest studio led by Alan DeMaison.

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

Support: Secondary images from Jeff Wichmann and America Bottle Auctions

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