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26 Nov 2021, last revised 24 Mar 2024

The Copper Country had embossed whiskey flasks from only two companies: G. Martini and the Hancock Liquor Co. The Hancock Liquor Co. was a short-lived firm for a wholesale liquor and saloon business.

Levy & Feldman, wholesale liquor dealers from Chicago, moved their fixtures into the Olivier block in Mar 1900 with the intent to open a branch store (15,16). They moved to Hancock in Apr 1900 and brought their own delivery outfit with them (17). On 09 May 1900, they were expected to open in a few days (18). By ten days later, they had rented the Gitzen property in West Hancock and expected their families to arrive from Chicago in the following week (11).

Newspaper ad - <i>The Copper Country Evening News</i> - 15 May 1900
Newspaper ad - May 1900
Newspaper ad - <i>The Copper Country Evening News</i>, 03 Jan 1901
Newspaper ad - Jan 1901

The 1901 Polk directory listed the Hancock Liquor Co. as a saloon at 301 Quincy St. (1). The firm consisted of A. L. and Ray Levy, and Henry M. and Ida Feldman (1). The 1900 Sanborn map showed the saloon on the northwest corner with Ravine St. In Jul 1900, they were preparing to enlarge their business by taking up the entire first floor of the building (12). This meant that Justice C. O. Olivier needed to move his grocery store and office to another location (12). In Jun 1902, the company expanded further by taking over the storeroom in the Olivier building formerly occupied by the Langier Music Co. (24,25). The 1907 map showed the expansion and displacement of the grocery and music stores. The 1907 map also shows that the street addresses were re-numbered.

Sanborn map - Jun 1900
Sanborn map - Jun 1900
Sanborn map - Nov 1907
Sanborn map - Nov 1907

A. Louis Levy was born in Apr 1874 in Germany and immigrated to the U.S. in 1876 (3). Ray Levy was his wife, and she was born in Apr 1878 in New York (3). According to his death record, Henry Feldman was born on 10 Nov 1866 in Hungary (8), although the 1900 census recorded a birth date of Feb 1868 (3). He immigrated to the U.S. in 1887 (3). Ida Feldman was his wife, and she was born in Nov 1872 in Germany and immigrated in 1875 (3). They were neighbors on Quincy St. (3), two blocks west of the saloon (1).

In Aug 1900, they purchased a team of sorrel horses for their new delivery wagon (13). In Oct 1900, they filed articles of association, capitalized at $5,000 with 500 shares (14). The stockholders were Abe Levy with 10 shares, H. M. Feldman with 10 shares, Ray Levy with 240 shares, and Ida Feldman with 240 shares (14).

Given that their business grew rapidly in the first nine months, they decided to branch out (19). On 01 Apr 1901, the company opened a branch store in Calumet in the lower level of the Kratt building with Hyman Cohen as manager (19). The 1901 directory listed the Calumet store at 323 5th St. (1). In Feb 1902, the company rented two storerooms in the Wilkins block and expected to have them ready for use by the middle of the next month (20). In late Aug 1908, however, the store in the Wilkins block was "going out of business in the near future" (23). In Dec 1902, the company lost a jury trial for rent due to Sarah H. Wilkins (22). She spent $1,300 to remodel the building for the purpose of leasing to the Hancock Liquor Co., but the company later decided to quit doing business there and left the storerooms vacant (22).

Newspaper ad - <i>The Copper Country Evening News</i> - 29 Jun 1901
Newspaper ad - Jun 1901
Newspaper ad - <i>The Daily Mining Gazette</i>, 19 Dec 1901
Newspaper ad - Dec 1901

On 03 Sep 1902, the firm Levy & Feldman dissolved by mutual consent with A. L. Levy continuing the business (26). The 1903 directory listed A. L. and Ray Levy for the Hancock Liquor Co. and classified the company in Saloons and in Wines and Liquors at 301-303 Quincy St. (2). As far as we have found, local newspapers last cited the company name in Feb 1905 (33). The 1905 directory then listed A. L. Levy for the saloon and wholesale liquor business at the same addresses (4). Levy had a ceramic whiskey jug glazed with his name (10). He was last listed in the 1912 directory (5). It is unknown what happened to him and his wife thereafter.

After the dissolution, Feldman continued in the liquor business. In Oct 1902, Feldman was remodeling the old Hancock Progress building to open a saloon (21,28). The 1903 directory then listed Henry M. Feldman for a saloon at 305 Quincy St. (2), which the 1907 Sanborn map showed to be adjacent to the Hancock Liquor Co. In Oct 1904, he leased a building in Houghton where he planned on opening a liquor house (32). The 1905 directory then listed Feldman for both the Hancock saloon and a saloon at 150 Shelden St. in Houghton (4). By the 1907 directory, Feldman had moved his residence to Houghton and was only listed for the Houghton saloon (27). Henry was a saloon keeper in 1910 (6) for the same saloon (29), and then he was not listed in the 1912 directory (5). In 1920, the Feldmans resided in Chicago, and Henry continued to be a saloon keeper (7). Henry died in Chicago on 24 Jan 1930 at the age of 63 (8).

The bottles of the Hancock Liquor Co. were called the Olympia flask (31). The Illinois Glass Co. patented its shape on 09 Aug 1898 and copyrighted its name (31). Molds with an embossing plate were available in several half-pint (6, 7, and 8 oz.) and pint (12 and 16 oz.) sizes (31).

Given their history, the bottles date to 1900-1905. Since the Hancock Liquor Co. were wholesalers and not manufacturers, they probably purchased whiskey by the barrel and bottled it for individual sale. This was a common practice, with most of the manufacturing of whiskey occurring in Kentucky (9).

References

  1. R. L. Polk & Co. 1901. Houghton County Directory 1901-02. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  2. R. L. Polk & Co. 1903. Houghton County Directory 1903-04. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  3. U.S. Census Bureau. 1900 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  4. R. L. Polk & Co. 1905. Houghton County Directory 1905-06. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  5. R. L. Polk & Co. 1912. 1912 Calumet, Hancock, Houghton and Laurium Directory. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  6. U.S. Census Bureau. 1910 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  7. U.S. Census Bureau. 1920 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  8. Illinois, U.S. Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 (accessed on ancestry.com)
  9. Regan, G. and M. H. Regan. accessed Dec 2021. The Book of Bourbon. posted on Distilled Spirits Council. americanwhiskeytrail.distilledspirits.org/american-whiskey-history
  10. Copper Country Bottle Collectors. 1978. Old Copper Country Bottles of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Copper Country Bottle Collectors. Calumet, MI.
  11. anonymous. (1900, May 19). untitled. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 3.
  12. anonymous. (1900, Jul 27). Portage Lake. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 3.
  13. anonymous. (1900, Aug 30). Portage Lake. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 3.
  14. anonymous. (1900, Oct 16). Portage Lake. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 3.
  15. anonymous. (1900, Mar 02). Hancock brevities. The Daily Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 3.
  16. anonymous. (1900, Mar 23). Hancock brevities. The Daily Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 3.
  17. anonymous. (1900, Apr 30). Wholesale liquor store. The Daily Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 3.
  18. anonymous. (1900, May 09). Hancock brevities. The Daily Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 3.
  19. anonymous. (1901, May 31). Branch at Calumet. The Daily Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 5.
  20. anonymous. (1902, Feb 12). untitled. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
  21. anonymous. (1902, Sep 25). Hancock brevities. The Daily Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 5.
  22. anonymous. (1902, Dec 15). A quick verdict. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
  23. anonymous. (1902, Aug 31). Calumet-Laurium brevities. The Daily Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 6.
  24. anonymous. (1902, Jun 04). Hancock brevities. The Daily Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 5.
  25. anonymous. (1902, Jun 11). Hancock brevities. The Daily Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 5.
  26. anonymous. (1902, Sep 11). Dissolution notice. Hancock Evening Journal (Hancock, MI). p. 4.
  27. R. L. Polk & Co. 1907. Houghton County Directory 1907-08. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  28. anonymous. (1902, Oct 01). Brevities. Hancock Evening News (Hancock, MI). p. 4.
  29. R. L. Polk & Co. 1910. 1910 Calumet, Houghton, Hancock and Laurium Directory. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  30. R. L. Polk & Co. 1916. Houghton County Directory 1916-17. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  31. Illinois Glass Company. 1906. Illustrated Catalogue and Price List. St. Louis, MO and Chicago, IL.
  32. anonymous. (1904, Oct 28). Houghton brevities. The Daily Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 2.
  33. anonymous. (1905, Feb 16). Hancock brevities. The Daily Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 3.

2
Hancock Liquor Co bottle
capacity: half pint
color: clear
top: cork seal
maker's mark: IGCO diamond (base)
other marks: DESIGN PATENTED (base)
date: 1900-1905
rarity: extremely rare

s54
Hancock Liquor Co bottle
capacity: pint
color: clear
top: cork seal
maker's mark: IGCO diamond (base)
other marks: DESIGN PATENTED (base)
date: 1900-1905
rarity: extremely rare