17 Dec 2021, 21 May 2024

We found very little information on J. Snell, which might have been expected given the extreme rarity of his bottle. The only records were co-partnership notices. On 29 May 1876, Joseph Snell and Frank Giessen dissolved their partnership (1). Snell then formed a partnership with Margaret Giessen, "for the purpose of manufacturing and selling Mineral Water, Root Beer and Soda Water..." (2). Three months later, on 01 Sep 1876, Snell dissolved the partnership with "Mrs. M. Giessen" and would continue the business (9).

Newspaper notice - <i>The Portage Lake Mining Gazette</i>, 01 Jun 1876
Newspaper notice - Jun 1876
Newspaper notice - <i>Northwestern Mining Journal</i>, 27 Sep 1876
Newspaper notice - Sep 1876

Since the bottle was embossed with only Snell's name, it might have been purchased after the dissolution with Margaret Giessen. Snell was not listed in the 1875 or 1877 Michigan State directories (3,4), so his pop factory was probably short-lived.

The only Joseph Snell we could find in Hancock was the agent of the Hancock Mine in 1866-1874 (5). Without some cross-reference, we cannot confirm if this was the same person. Coincidently, his middle name (7) and his mother's maidan name (8) were Northey, and he was from Cornwall, England (5), similar to Matthew Northey, the bottler in Houghton. Frank Giessen was listed as "clerk in store" on the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, with Margaret being his wife (6).


  1. anonymous. (1876, Jun 01). Dissolution of co-partnership. Portage Lake Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 3.
  2. anonymous. (1876, Jun 01). Notice. Portage Lake Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 3.
  3. R. L. Polk & Co. 1875. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory 1875. The Tribune Printing Company. Detroit, MI.
  4. R. L. Polk & Co. 1877. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory 1877. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
  5. anonymous. 1883. History of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The Western Historical Company. Chicago, IL.
  6. U.S. Census Bureau. 1870 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  7. England, Select Births and Christening, 1538-1975 (accessed on ancestry.com).
  8. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, Michigan; Death Records (accessed on ancestry.com).
  9. anonymous. (1876, Sep 27). Dissolution. Northwestern Mining Journal (Hancock, MI). p. 3.

J. Snell bottle
capacity: half-pint
color: aqua
top: blob top - applied
base: key mold
maker's mark: A & D. H. C (back heel)
other marks: J S (base)
date: c.1876
rarity: extremely rare