27 Dec 2021, last revised 26 Feb 2023
Antique collectors know G. Martini for his extensive array of ceramic whiskey jugs (21). Fortunately for bottle collectors, he also had one embossed whiskey flask. He was a prominent businessman in the Copper Country.
Guerrino Martini was born on 22 Nov 1850 in Italy (1). He immigrated to the diamond fields in South Africa, but was not able to find success (22). He then immigrated to the U.S. in 1875 (1). He spent time in New York, New England, and then Chicago (1), where a friend fitted him with a scissor grinder (22). He walked from Chicago to Houghton carrying the scissor grinder on his back (1,22). He worked at the Hecla Mine for five years, serving as foreman for three years (1). He was given the nickname "Big Mike" after a clerk misspelled his name as "Mike Murphy" (1). He then engaged in the confectionery and fruit business in Calumet (1). The Polk directory listed him as a confectioner in 1883 (6), grocer in 1891 (7), and for "fancy groceries and a little of everything" in 1897 (8).
In late 1897, he had plans to sell his stock, retire, and leave the Copper Country (2). He did put his stock up for sale at cost (3), but he took at business trip to New York and Chicago and purchased a new stock (4). He announced that he would open on 01 May 1898 a wholesale liquor business (5). He remodeled his store with a steel ceiling, new display cases, fixtures of rich hardwood, and a partitioned section for wholesale cigar and tobacco sales (5). Within five months, he had a thriving business as a result of purchasing stock directly from manufacturers and saving his customers the expense of middlemen (23).
The 1899 directory listed his address as 444 5th St., Calumet (9). In Feb 1907, Martini planned to remodel the building over the summer, including converting the frame structure to a stone building (24). The 1907 directory listed his address as 442-444 5th St. (10). The 1900 Sanborn map shows the store on the east side of the street, between Pine St. and Elm St., and the 1908 Sanborn map shows the expansion of the store into the adjacent vacant space.
Sanborn map - Sep 1900
Sanborn map - May 1908
The 1909 directory then listed the business as G. Martini & Co., consisting of Guerrino Martini and John Bandettini (11), Guerrino's son-in-law (13,14). The 1910 directory specified the address as 428-430 5th St. (12), which were re-numbered addresses as shown on the 1908 Sanborn map. The company was listed in 1916 (15) but not in 1921 (16), so it ended sometime between then.
Newspaper ad - Feb 1899
Newspaper ad - Dec 1909
In addition to his liquor business, Martini was one of the founding members of the Calumet Brewing Co. (19). In 1910, he was elected as a director of the Calumet State Bank (20). He was retired in 1920 (18) and died on 13 Dec 1923 at the age of 73 and was buried in Lakeview Cemetery, Calumet (17).
Since the bottle specifies G. Martini (although misspelled) and not G. Martini & Co., and has 444 5th St. as the address, it dates to 1898-1906. As a wholesale liquor dealer, he probably purchased whiskey by the barrel and distributed it into jugs and bottles. Most whiskey flasks were unembossed, so it was fortunate that Martini used an embossed one.
Sales Receipt Header - May 1906
- anonymous. 1903. Biographical Record: Houghton, Baraga and Marquette Counties, Michigan. Biographical Publishing Company. Chicago, IL.
- anonymous. (1897, Dec 10). To Retire From Business. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
- anonymous. (1897, Dec 24). untitled. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 2.
- anonymous. (1898, Feb 08). untitled. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 4.
- anonymous. (1898, Apr 15). Will Open on May 1. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 4.
- R. L. Polk & Co. 1883. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory 1883. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
- R. L. Polk & Co. 1891. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory 1891-92. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
- R. L. Polk & Co. 1897. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1897. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
- R. L. Polk & Co. 1899. Houghton County Directory 1899-1900. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
- R. L. Polk & Co. 1907. Houghton County Directory 1907-08. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
- R. L. Polk & Co. 1909. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1909. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
- R. L. Polk & Co. 1910. 1910 Calumet, Houghton, Hancock and Laurium Directory. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
- U.S. Census Bureau. 1910 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
- Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, Michigan; Death Records (accessed on ancestry.com).
- R. L. Polk & Co. 1916. Houghton County Directory 1916-17. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
- R. L. Polk & Co. 1921. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1921-1922. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
- Find a Grave. accessed Dec 2021. Guerrino Martini. findagrave.com/memorial/162865643/guerrino-martini
- U.S. Census Bureau. 1920 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
- anonymous. 1903. One Hundred Years of Brewing. H. S. Rich & Co., Publishers. Chicago and New York.
- anonymous. (1910, Oct 18). Becomes a Bank Director. The Calumet News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
- Copper Country Bottle Collectors. 1978. Old Copper Country Bottles of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Copper Country Bottle Collectors. Calumet, MI.
- anonymous. (1892, Mar 15). untitled. Torch Lake Times (Lake Linden, MI). p. 3.
- anonymous. (1898, Sep 30). A Thriving Business. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 5.
- anonymous. (1907, Feb 28). A New Stone Building. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
top: cork seal
maker's mark: (none)
other marks: English (base)
rarity: extremely rare
- Martini is misspelled