Baker's Pure Rye 1847
The Label

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Bakers Pure Rye Whiskey, 1847.

There are no known surviving illustrations of Baker's Pure Rye bottles in their day -- and there's a good reason for that. Whiskey barrels would've been commonly seen in person by many drinkers, and sometimes appeared in whiskey ads. But seeing an individually-packaged whiskey bottle would've been quite unusual, and strange in an advertisement.[1] That's because bottled, labeled whiskey was very rarely for sale. We'll get into that later in depth.

For authentication purposes, we can compare this label to  surviving bottles of other W.T. Walters & Co. vintage-dated whiskeys. They're privately owned so I can't show them here, but the design is consistent. And the graphic design of this label is appropriate for the period, as is the paper stock itself.

And actually, not much more can be said here, because counterfeiters love it when labeling authentication is explained online. It's a free lesson in Forgery Improvement! But in general, the basics of paper analysis involve special lighting and strong magnification. We also look at things like ink, font, and printing process. And I've got the added bonus that if I get stuck on something, I can call my wife's family, who have been in the label business for three generations.

 

You may have wondered about the horizontal lines that faintly crisscross the paper. Those actually come from cellophane tape (like Scotch tape). The prior owners had tried to “laminate” the front and back labels for protection. A Los Angeles paper conservator was consigned to remove the tape and adhesive residue.

 

Next Page: The Glass >> 

 

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[1] In saloons, branded decanters were sometimes used as the decades wore on, and those were continually refilled from barrels. To understand what seeing a labeled, branded bottle at a merchant or bar would've felt like in the mid-19th century, imagine walking into a corner liquor shop today and seeing full whiskey barrels for sale, which you could also buy portions from. It was the opposite back then.

 

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