My great grandfather, Anton Hasselbaum, founded a beer, wine and liquor business in Providence, Rhode Island prior to Prohibition. [See my blog post of January 25, 2013 here.] Anton is pictured above in an undated photograph that ran in the Providence Evening Bulletin on July 5, 1932 -- the day after Independence Day celebrations throughout Rhode Island. This was at a time when the passage of the 21st Amendment, and the end of Prohibition (December 5, 1933), were still a year and five months in the future. Anton died on Valentine's Day 1916 almost three years before ratification of the 18th Amendment -- which brought Prohibition to America and would have doomed Anton's business.
Given the date of this newspaper piece, the image and the question posed amount to something beyond mere nostalgia for the bygone era of the horse and buggy. It recalls also that in 1932 folks were still no longer able to get deliveries from the likes of Anton Hasselbaum -- so they could not enjoy a brew chilled in ice water, or a glass of wine, or a cocktail, as they celebrated the nation's independence on the 4th of July 1932!
The caption to the photograph reads as follows:
This picture shows Mr. Hasselbaum himself standing beside the horse during a trip to Riverside. How long ago the picture was taken cannot be definitely determined, but in the words of an old-timer, "It were well over 40 year ago." It was in the days when saloons carried very little bottled beer, and at a time when it was not against the law to transport the amber fluid, and neither was it uncommon for the family to have a "rack" left at the house for the week-end. Mr. Hasselbaum ran one of the leading bottling works in those days, in the Elmwood section, and his wagons went all over the city and into surrounding territory to deliver beer "for the family." It was then thought somewhat "the thing" to have the beer wagon stop at the house and deliver a week's supply.
As a prominent bottler in Providence, the A. Hasselbaum Co. bottled beer and ale for various producers such as Handley's Peerless Ale. This was in the days before screw-top bottles or bottles with removable and disposable caps; indeed, it was a time when beer and soda bottles were not disposable at all and were washed and re-used. Anton's bottles used a porcelain "stopper" with a rubber washer held in with a wire bale. Such a system was quite common then, but is rare now. Photographs of an A. Hasselbaum Co. bottle and a stopper are shown below and each has the Hasselbaum trade mark displayed on it.
I now own six of my great grandfather's bottles -- each is 100 years old or more.
Photo of article from the Providence Evening Bulletin in the collection of the author.
Photos of a Hasselbaum bottle and stopper courtesy of Ken Hasselbaum, a late cousin of mine, showing items from his collection. Ken is the one who introduced me to the possibility of obtaining Hasselbaum bottles that are now over 100 years old. Thank you Ken!
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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
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