United We Stand Whisky

Provenance: Ken Schwartz Collection

This amber, slug plate, applied top bottle is extremely rare and represented in very few collections. Most have been found or dug in the Portland, Oregon area. Look closely at the striations and swirls in the glass.

“United we stand, divided we fall” is a phrase used in many different kinds of mottos, most often to inspire unity and collaboration. It is also on the emblem of the State of Kentucky which is where the bourbon came from for so many of these western brands.

One of the earliest western liquor firms to take advantage of the Kentucky bourbon and the saying United We Stand was Wilmerding and Co. of San Francisco. Their bottle was embossed UNITED WE STAND, OLD BOURBON WHISKEY, WILMERDING & CO. SOLE AGENTS, SAN FRANCISCO and was introduced in the late 1870s.

Julius Clute Wilmerding was noted as being in the Golden State as early as 1848 and eventually found himself in partnership by the name of Wilmerding & Kellogg in January 1869. See museum examples of McKennas Nelson County Bourbon and C. W. Stuart’s Extra Kentucky Whisky.

Wilmerding & Kellogg then admitted a new partner by the name of John Tuthill Haviland in January 1875 and the partnership was re-titled as Wilmerding, Kellogg & Co. In October 1877, Calvin W. Kellogg relinquished his partnership status and the company name was changed to Wilmerding & Co. During these business partnerships, good old Kentucky bourbon was packaged and sold to the populace in California and new growth areas like Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.

Our museum example is embossed UNITED WE STAND WHISKY, CHARLES KOHN & CO., PORTLAND, OR., AGENTS FOR NORTH WEST COAST. In 1883, Charles Kohn of Portland introduced his brand of United We Stand Whisky. You will see both spellings of Whiskey (or Whisky) depending on the brand. Both are correct.

Charles Kohn was one of the most prominent citizens of the Pacific Coast. He was born in Wallisch bergen, Bohemia in 1848 and immigrated to California in 1868, entering what was then known as Union College, to complete his education. In 1865, he became connected with the firm of Marcus, Kohn & Co., wholesale and retail clothiers. In 1869, he entered the great commercial house of Wilmerding & Co. as a traveling representative, remaining with that firm for many years. In 1883, he established the wholesale wine and liquor house of Charles Kohn & Co., in Portland, Oregon. His brother Napthally was his partner. They secured suitable offices in the old O.S.N. co. block, at No. 41 Front Street.

Kohn’s wholesale house was both successful and long-lived, spanning over 27 years in Portland. The firm would relocate to Third and Pine Street where they were located most of that period. Charles Kohn died suddenly of a heart attack on September 21, 1910 just after returning from a business trip to San Francisco. He had amassed a small fortune from his great business years.

There is another embossed United We Stand slug plate bottle embossed UNITED WE STAND WHISKEY, C J STUBLING, DISTRIBUTER, THE DALLES, ORE. We have pictured it further above next to our museum example and Wilmerding example.

SupportWesternWhiskeyToolTopGazette.com and Bruce Silva

Support Images: Jeff Wichmann and American Bottle Auctions

SupportWhiskey Bottles of the Old West by John L. Thomas

Support: Eric McGuire for Wilmerding information.

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