In which bottles are used, beer is drunk, and graphic design atrocities are committed

Over the past two blog posts we’ve been looking at a large assemblage of labelled bottles found under a house in Akaroa. Today on the blog we’re going to take a step back and look at how the bottles travelled from England to New Zealand. It’s something we’ve touched on a little bit already, but today we’re going to really break it down. It’s a little complicated, so to make things simple I’ve created an absolute masterpiece of a diagram to explain things. We’re going to focus specifically on beer exported from England, but a lot of the groups and cycles we’re going to talk about today can be applied to both other types of alcohol and other countries exporting to New Zealand in the 19th century.

Might as well just leave the blog here. A picture says a thousand words, and when it’s one that has had as much thought and graphic design put into it as this, then really it says nothing at all. Image: C. Watson (not that anyone should ever reproduce this monstrosity).

Export Brewer

Export brewers were British breweries that were manufacturing beer to export to the colonies. We already talked about them in our first blog post on the assemblage, so I’m not going to go into too much detail here. For those of you who missed that first blog post (you should go back and read it) export brewing was never a large market for British breweries. Exporting beer was a risky business for obvious reasons, only certain types of beer were suitable to be exported, and there was enough demand in the local market that most breweries had no need to look to the export market for business. Two breweries come to dominate the British export market: Guinness and Bass and Co. Bass and Co. exported 30,446 cases of beer to New Zealand, worth £45,417, in 1873 (Hughes 2006: 295).

Bottle Manufacturer

As we’ve mentioned many times before on the blog, there was no successful local bottle manufacturing industry in New Zealand until 1922. Instead, bottles were imported from England and Europe in large numbers, with two million bottles imported in 1873 alone (Tasker 1989: 15). These bottles were manufactured by large glass factories. These factories were literally producing millions of bottles a year. Richard, Cooper and Co. of the Portobello glass works in Scotland were making 6,000,000 a year in 1898. Unfortunately, unless a bottle has a maker’s mark, we generally don’t know which factory made the bottle. If we talk about beer specifically, then most beer in the 19th century was packaged in either black beer or ring seal bottles (see this blog for more information on these specific bottle types).

Export Bottler

The British-based export bottler would purchase beer from the brewer, bottles from the bottle manufacturer, bottle the beer and then export it to the colonies. Again, we talked a bit about this in the first blog, but we’ll still go into more detail here as the bottling companies played such a pivotal role in getting beer from England to New Zealand. Exporting beer was a risky business. The journey from England to New Zealand took well over 100 days and during that time the beer often went off due to shipping delays, temperature and humidity changes and contamination. Unlike the export brewery industry itself, which was essentially a duopoly between Guinness and Bass and Co., the export bottling industry was full of competition with Bass selling beer to over 50 different export bottlers by 1873 (Hughes 2006: 89). These bottling companies all competed with each other in the export market with the same products. The point of difference being, how the product was bottled and shipped, and if it had gone off along the way.

Robert Porter and Co. were one of the many export bottlers shipping beer to New Zealand, and we found several of their labels in our Akaroa assemblage. This 1891 account describes their bottling process. The beer was sent to Porter and Co. in butts of two hogsheads each via the railway, with Porter and Co.’s bottling factory conveniently located at Pancras-road, London, at the terminus of the Midland Railway Company. The beer remained stored in the barrel until it was ready to be bottled.

The first stage in the bottling process was washing the bottle. Whilst new bottles could be used, it was more common for old bottles to be reused and refilled. The 1891 account says that these were most often old champagne bottles (ring seals) and that bottles were imported from the continent for this purpose. The bottle was washed three or four times to remove the past contents, and then stored ready for filling.

Bottles were filled, corked then packed, at a rate of around 1500 dozen a day. A tin foil capsule was placed over the cork and the bottle was labelled with the brewer label and Porter and Co.’s Bulldog label. Bottles were left to stand for a day to make sure they weren’t going to explode, and then were packed, with eight dozen pints in a case and four dozen quarts in a barrel. The packers name was recorded inside the case, which was then loaded back onto a train for transport to the docks and then shipped to New Zealand.

The Agent

The agent was essentially the middleman between the export bottler in England, and the seller in New Zealand (or they were the seller themselves). Typically based in New Zealand, agents ordered stock from exporters and sold it to local hotels, storekeepers and grocers (depending on what the stock was). They could sell stock by auction or sell directly to other businesses and consumers.

A few of the many advertisements for Robert Porter and Co.’s bottled Guinness and Bass and Co. ale. Most advertisements had the brand of alcohol, who bottled it and the agents name (if you think this is complicated wait until we start talking about bottle reuse). Images clockwise from top left: Daily Telegraph 21/07/1899: 1; New Zealand Herald 09/04/1880: 7; Daily Southern Cross 15/11/1865: 7; Otago Daily Times 12/08/1893: 3; Press 16/09/1896: 3; Press 01/11/1894: 4.

The local brewer

Alongside all the imported beer and spirits that were available for purchase, there were also locally manufactured beers. Local breweries had serious advantages over export brewers- namely that their beer didn’t need to be shipped halfway across the world to reach the consumer- but also had to compete with the notion of “British is Best” and the familiarity that Bass and Guinness had in a foreign world. We’ll talk more about local breweries below in the bottle reuse section, for now it’s just important to remember that there were other beers available than Guinness and Bass (unlike spirits which relied on the export market).

Seller and Consumer

Finally we reach the end of the chain. The beer, having been brewed by the manufacturer, bottled by the exporter, sold by the agent, was now available for purchase by the consumer. Consumers could purchase beer direct from the agent, or importer, but most of the general public likely brought their beer from hotels (who in turn would have purchased from the agent).

An 1888 advertisement for the infamous Occidental Hotel, stating the hotel kept only the best brands of wines, spirits and ales in stock. Unfortunately, for the purposes of this blog, the ad doesn’t say specifically which brands were in stock, but they probably included imported Bass and Guinness. Image: Press 25/10/1888: 8.

Joe Dicks was a Sydenham based wine and spirits importer. The above advertisement gives their 1891 prices for Bass and Guinness beers, along with other spirits. If you read the ad, you’ll notice that you could purchase bottled beer, or you could take along an empty bottle and fill it yourself. This brings us to bottle reuse. Image: Press 30/01/1891: 1).

Bottle Reuse

When we think about just the beer, the journey from England to New Zealand is a relatively straightforward one. It’s brewed in England, passes hands through a bunch of different people and companies, and gets drunk in New Zealand. The same cannot be said for the bottle it was contained in. Unlike today, when packaging is so ridiculously cheap that it’s killing the planet, packaging in the 19th century was expensive. Because of that, bottles were used more than once, in a cycle of bottle reuse.

The (simplified) bottle reuse cycle. The start of the cycle is what we’ve talked about so far, with a bottle being filled with alcohol and sold to the consumer. Once the consumer had consumed their beer, the bottle could be sold or returned and then washed and filled again. Image: C. Watson.

Sold or returned to whom, you might have been wondering. Advertisements by local breweries, hotels and importers for bottles were a common sight in 19th century newspapers. Image, clockwise from top left: Press 23/03/1870: 1; Lyttelton Times 11/10/1895: 1; Press 25/11/1863: 1; Star 15/06/1869: 1; Press 20/02/1874: 3.

There are two points of bottle reuse in the journey of the beer bottle from England to New Zealand: one in England and the other in New Zealand. In the bottle exporter section above, we mentioned that the bottles exported to New Zealand were washed by the bottling company, as most often they were old bottles that were being reused. As we mentioned in our first blog on the assemblage, the export market made up only a minor proportion of brewers’ sales. Most English beer was bottled in England and consumed in England, meaning the bottles could go through the re-use cycle indefinitely.

Quitting being an archaeologist to become a professional diagram maker. This masterpiece shows the two cycles of bottle re-use. Image: C. Watson.

Once the original contents of the bottle were consumed, then the bottle was sold. From there it was washed, refilled and re-sold. Local breweries were reliant on the continual import of bottles into New Zealand as a source of bottles. Whilst they could purchase empty bottles directly from bottle manufacturers in England and import them to New Zealand, all bottles whether empty of filled carried a 1 penny import duty (Tasker 1989: 39), making it cheaper to buy already imported, used bottles.

Just as we find advertisements for bottles wanted in 19th century newspapers, we also find bottles for sale notices. All the advertisements listed here are from commercial businesses. It would make sense that aerated water manufacturers, hotels, and shops would be the biggest source of bottles given they were also the biggest consumers, but individuals could also sell their if they wanted to. Also interesting is the reference in the bottom right story of a Robert Gilmour being charged with selling bottles that still had old labels on them. This was presumably because he was refilling the bottles with a cheaper product than what they originally contained but was still selling them as containing the original contents. What a scoundrel. Image: clockwise from left: New Zealander 13/12/1848: 1; Westport Times 23/12/1871: 3; Star 14/12/1889: 2; Star 6/3/1897: 5; Cromwell Argus 16/3/1897: 4.

The cycle of reuse continued until the bottle was disposed of. The bottles we found at our site were interesting as they contained both imported and locally manufactured beer. The bottles that contained locally manufactured beer were likely once imported with Bass or Guinness in them, and then went through this cycle of reuse before being disposed of. The bottles that held imported beer appear to have never entered into the New Zealand cycle of bottle re-use, instead they were immediately consumed and disposed of (provided that they hadn’t been sold to the occupants of our house by a Robert Gilmour-esque figure who wasn’t replacing the labels on the bottles; proving the old adage of archaeology that we can never know anything for sure).

Clara Watson

References

Hughes, D. 2006. A Bottle of Guinness Please: The Colourful History of Guiness. Berkshire: Phimboy.

Tasker, J. 1989. Old New Zealand Bottles and Bygones. Wellington: Heinemann Reed.

Gin, Cognac and Pencils

Last time on the blog we looked specifically at the beer bottle labels from our Akaroa site. Today’s blog post is essentially a part two, where we’re going to take a look at the other labels found on the site. Most of these were for spirits of various types. Unlike beer, which was brewed in New Zealand, spirits were almost always imported from overseas. Between 1841 and 1868 distilling spirits in New Zealand was illegal, and even after being made legal in 1868, the removal of protective duties in 1874 meant that the small local distilling industry, which had began to develop, immediately collapsed as it was unable to compete with imports. Of course, just because distilling spirits was illegal doesn’t mean it wasn’t done. Places like Hokonui Hills were infamous for their illegal grog. However, it’s very unlikely that we will ever find archaeological evidence for the consumption of illegal alcohol. Funnily enough when people break the law, they tend not to provide evidence for it, say like labelling their bottles of sly grog to read “this bottle contains illegally distilled spirits” (an archaeologist can dream though).

This spirits bottle contained my favourite type of alcohol: Gin! Brothers Walter and Alfred Gilbey founded their business in 1857 in London, as wine and spirits merchants and soon began to produce spirits, particularly London dry gin. The third brother, Henry, joined the firm in 1865. They opened branches in Ireland, Scotland and by the 1920s the company also had gin distilleries in Australia and Canada. Gilbey’s gin was widely advertised in New Zealand newspapers from the end of 19th century onwards (New Zealand Herald 7/09/1895: 1; Evening Post 11/07/1945: 4). Image: C. Watson.

The best thing about researching spirits are the advertisements. If James Bond was alive in the 1800s, he’d drink Gilbey’s Gin. Image: Press.

The Gilbey’s Gin bottle had three different labels on it. The bottom one, with all the writing on it, was a letter of endorsement by Sir Charles A. Cameron. Cameron was an Irish chemist and scientist, most well-known for his work in detecting food adulteration from 1888 onward. For manufacturers, operating in a time period with relatively loose food safety laws, providing endorsements was a way of legitimising their products. Interestingly, Cameron’s endorsement focuses on the health benefits of drinking gin, something I plan on remembering next time I’m sipping on a GnT. Image: Grey River Argus.

Normally, when we think about gin with medicinal benefits in the 19th century Udolpho Wolfe’s Aromatic Schnapps is what immediately springs to mind (read “schnapps” in quotation marks- it was a grain-based alcohol flavoured with juniper berry essence, a.k.a gin). Unfortunately, the Udolpho Wolfe label we found at our site was in fragments (note the bottle pictured here is from a different site), but from what we can read the label promotes the medicinal benefits of the product. This makes sense given the bottle held “schnapps” not gin… Image: C. Watson.

An 1875 account of the “medicinal” benefits of Udolpho Wolfe. Image: Press 27/10/1875: 3.

But wait, there’s more. We also found a JDKZ gin bottle label on the site (note the bottle is from a different site). JDKZ gin was produced by the De Kuyper distillery in Rotterdam. The De Kuyper distillery has a long history, having been established in 1695 when the family began making wooden casks for transporting beer and gin. From 1729 they began to use characteristic square shaped gin bottle and in 1827 began exporting their products to Europe and the colonies. In 1911 the distillery moved to Schiedam. Image: C. Watson.

It seems have taken until 1926 for the De Kuyper’s to have realised the medicinal wonder drug they had on their hands. Luckily once they did, they made sure to advertise its many benefits. Image: clockwise from top left, Press 18/03/1926: 11; Press 19/03/1926: 4; Press 23/03/1926: 4; Press 25/05/1926: 13.

Gin not your cup of tea? We had two different Hennessy Cognac bottles at the site, one embossed and the other labelled. Hennessy’s Cognac was founded by Richard Hennessy in 1765, made famous by his son James, and continued to be produced throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Hennessy was advertised as being imported into New Zealand from at least 1843 (New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator 20/09/1843: 1). The embossed Hennessy bottle we found at our site was imported into New Zealand by the Neil Brothers. Neil and Company was a Dunedin company founded in 1886 by Mr P. C. Neil. The company acted as general importers, merchants, and ship and insurance agents (Cyclopedia Company Ltd 1905:350). Image: C. Watson.

I like this advertisement for two reasons. Firstly, the artefact nerd in me appreciates that the label pictured in the advertisement is the same label that we found on one of our bottles. Secondly, there are many different interpretations of what the effects of a “universal stimulant” are, but the one that I’m picturing in my head does not go well with being in the middle of a golf course wearing a suit… Image: Press 12/07/1924: 7.

And just to mix things up, a pencil box label. Prior to the beginning of the 19th century, pencil making was a specialist craft in Nuremberg, with pencils manufactured exclusively by the Nuremberg carpenters’ guild. In 1806 Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the administrative restructuring of Bavaria, resulting in the Nuremberg carpenters’ guild being stripped of their power and pencil manufacture available to anyone. In the wake of this, Johann Froescheis registered as a pencil manufacturer. In 1868, Johann Froescheis II registered the brand Lyra, along with the Greek lyre trade mark. The company still operates today. Image: C. Watson.

Unlike the other brands, which had thousands of advertisements in the newspapers, I couldn’t find a single advertisement for J. Froescheis and the Lyra brand. The closest I came was to German pencil cases (which came in silver and gold cases #fancy). This ad is from a larger advertisement from a Mr Alport who was selling off his household in 1854 as he was leaving New Zealand. Our pencils are likely to be from later on in the 19th century, or possibly the start of the 20th century, when pencils were more common, but it’s an interesting reminder that something we take for granted, such as a pencil, was once an expensive commodity.Image: Lyttelton Times 18/03/1854: 2.

And to end the blog I couldn’t not put this in, because how amazing is the thought of a giant pencil tombstone (I’m thinking of a 10-foot high trowel for my grave). In a complete tangent that’s not related to anything else in this blog, the advertisement on the left is from 1895 and the one on the right is from 1905. The fact that something that happened 10 years earlier was still considered recent in 1905 really shows how much the news-cycle has changed in the past hundred years…

Clara Watson

References

Cyclopedia Company Ltd. 1905. The Cyclopedia Company of New Zealand [Otago & Southland Provincial Districts]. Available [online]: http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-corpus-cyclopedia.html

O flower of Scotland, when will we see your like again? Well, maybe in Christchurch!

Christchurch is rightly or wrongly traditionally thought of as an English city, but at every turn we can see a glimpse of England’s arch enemy…the Scots. While they may now technically be at peace, they do still meet annually on the battlefield (ok, pitch) in a fight to the death (ok, 80 minutes of rugby) to claim the Calcutta Cup. It’s very serious business. This national identity notion that we all subscribe to is a funny thing. The majority of us are extremely proud to be the nationality that we are. I, for example, am very proud to be Scottish and even though we don’t have the strongest rugby team, I will always fiercely support them. And quite frankly, who wouldn’t be proud to be from a country whose national animal is unicorn. Yes, that’s right, a mythical beast. In our defence unicorns were thought to be real in Western countries until the early 1800s.

In my (almost) two years so far in New Zealand one of the main things I’ve picked up on is the way people are so passionately proud of being Kiwi, but also of the different cultures that have combined to make New Zealand what it is today. We don’t have to search too in depth into Christchurch’s history before we see a glimpse of that Scottish influence. Riccarton? Named after the parish that the Deans brothers came from in Ayrshire, Scotland. The River Avon? Named after their grandfather’s stream on his farm back in Scotland. That’s two very distinctive features of Christchurch, that the majority of us will think about or talk about on a daily basis, with origins half the world away. The Deans brothers were among the first to settle in Christchurch after being less than impressed with their assigned land in Wellington and Nelson. Having moved to New Zealand by myself in the modern day and age where I can FaceTime my family or hop on a flight home fairly regularly, I have the upmost respect for the earliest of settlers who travelled via boat and more often than not would not see their family again. It is however almost a bit of a mistake that the Deans ended up here in what was to become Christchurch, but a happy one at that. It is at Riccarton Bush that would be the site of their first farm and where the suburb of Riccarton would get its name. In the image below we can see some of the earliest buildings of Christchurch, built by the brothers. A far cry from the Riccarton we know today.

The stackyard at Riccarton c. 1860 showing a barn (left), the ploughman’s cottage (centre), and Deans Cottage (right). Image: Orwin 2015: 115.

Another set of Scottish brothers who made a huge contribution to Christchurch are Peter and David Duncan, who founded their business P & D Duncan Ltd in Christchurch. You might recognise the name as the business only ceased  operations in 1986, or because one of their 20th century buildings branded with “P & D DUNCAN LTD” can still be seen on St Asaph Street ( pictured just below). The pair contributed to the development of New Zealand agriculture through their foundries which, as previously mentioned, operated up until the late 20th century (Kete Christchurch, 2018).

Still in use today! Although not as a foundry as the Duncan brothers had originally intended. Image: Kete Christchurch.

The earliest immigrants were quite obviously bringing their skills to Christchurch and establishing businesses using said skills in order to better themselves. It is, therefore, a little surprising that when the Christchurch Drainage Board began their mammoth task of building a sewer system to support the growing population in 1878, they opted to import the sewer pipes all the way from Scotland rather than sourcing them locally. The earthenware pipes, branded with “J BINNIE / GARTCOSH”, were shipped directly from Glasgow (Press 14/12/1878: 2, Star 26/8/1879: 3). Understandably this annoyed the ratepayers somewhat –  if there were local businesses who could supply the goods, why did they need to fork out to get the pipes shipped from quite literally half the world away? (Star 29/5/1880:3). Predictably, not all the pipes made it to New Zealand in one piece.

Above: The J. Binnie / Gartcosh makers mark. Below: Not all of the pipes appear to have made it in one piece, take note of that mighty crack. Image: Hamish Williams

When thinking about the English we often think about tea as their national drink, but what about the Scots? Whisky, quite naturally. I was introduced to it at a young age in an attempt to get me to stop crying while I was teething…and I’ve been hooked ever since! Just kidding, following my dabble as a toddler, I waited until 18 to enjoy this Scottish tradition. We find whisky bottles, along with other types of alcohol bottles, fairly regularly in Christchurch (not that I’m suggesting anything about Cantabrian drinking habits!). This whisky bottle found in Victoria Square had an embossing on the base reading “JOHN STEWART & Co / KIRKLISTON”, which immediately indicates that the bottle originally contained Scottish Whisky made in the Kirkliston distillery in West Lothian, Scotland. The Kirkliston distillery was first established in 1795 and went through several owners before Stewart and Co. took over in 1855, installing a Coffey still and converting it to a primarily grain-based distillery. In 1877, John Stewart and Co. were one of the six Scottish whisky distillers to form the Distiller’s Company Ltd., who continued in business well into the 20th century. We can even easily assign the dates 1855 until 1877 for production of this particular bottle (Townsend 2015:125-127).

John Stewart and Co. whisky bottle, dating back to the early days of Christchurch. Image: M. Lillo Bernabeu

The Scottish countryside was even celebrated through romantic imagery on ceramics. A pattern aptly named ‘Scotch Scenery’ depicts a Scottish highland shepherd and shepherdess resting at the foot of a tree. The highland landscape, with stone cliffs, waterfalls, and trees, is visible behind the couple (Transferware Collector’s Club 2005-2018). Ceramics patterns are often used to depict (often quite idealised) images of people, places and activities for mass consumption. Whoever owned this vessel may have been a proud Scot themselves, dreaming of home, or just someone with very good taste.

A Scottish lass and laddie reclining in the highland landscape – a lovely little print on a ceramic found in central Christchurch. Image: J. Garland.

And to end my ramblings on Scotland in Christchurch I can’t think of a better artefact. As I’ve said in a previous post, one of my favourite things to find on site is clay pipes. Often they’re stamped with “EDINBURGH” or “GLASGOW” with the makers name as well (I once even found one embossed with “DAVIDSON / GLASGOW” – us Davidsons get everywhere). But these two examples are a little bit special. They feature our national symbol, the thistle! While the English have the rose and Kiwis have the fern, we have a spikey (yet beautiful) thistle. The patriotic motifs became increasingly popular during the 19th century as manufacturers began to cater for “ethnic and national sentiments” (Bradley 2000: 112). Similar to the way I wear my Scotland rugby shirt (emblazoned with the thistle) with pride today, some of the earliest settlers may have smoked their thistle clad pipe with a similar sort of feeling. Now there’s a nice thought.

Clay smoking pipes decorated with the thistle motif found in Christchurch city centre. Image: J. Garland.

A huge thank you to my colleagues at UOA for sharing their Scottish stories and finds of Christchurch with me.

Kathy Davidson

References

Bradley, C., 2000. Smoking Pipes for the Archaeologist. In Karklins, K. (Ed.) Studies in Material Culture Research, p. 104-133. Society for Historical Archaeology, Pennsylvania.

Kete Christchurch, 2018. P & D Duncan Ltd. [online] Available at: http://ketechristchurch.peoplesnetworknz.info/site/topics/show/1950-p-and-d-duncan-ltd#.Wyhva6l9gnU [Accessed 19 June 2018].

Orwin, J., 2015, Riccarton and the Deans Family: History and Heritage. David Bateman: Auckland.

Press. [online] Available at: http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/ [Accessed June 2018].

Christchurch City Libraries, 2018. Riccarton Bush (Pūtaringamotu), Riccarton House, and Deans Cottage. [online] https://my.christchurchcitylibraries.com/riccarton-bush/ [Accessed 19 June 2018].

Star. [online] Available at: http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/ [Accessed June 2018].

Townsend, B., 2015. Scotch Missed: The Original Guide to the Lost Distilleries of Scotland. Neil Wilson Publishing Ltd., Britain.

Transferware Collector’s Club, 2005-2018. Scotch Scenery [online] Available at: http://www.transcollectorsclub.org/ [Accessed June 2018].

Hotels, what versatile places!

It’s been a busy month for Underground Overground Archaeology as we’ve been actively involved in New Zealand Archaeology Week 2018 running displays, historical tours, and talks – all of them highly successful thanks to history and archaeology lovers across the country!

Since we love Christchurch historical archaeology, a tribute to hotels is in order. These are spaces which were witness to the everyday life of both visitors and residents in the 19th and early 20th century, places in which the public and private sphere merged. This blog ties in with two events which took place during Archaeology Week 2018. An exhibition at the South Library displaying artefacts from hotels in Christchurch and Lyttelton held over the last month (perhaps you checked it out!). Also, a fantastic new Heritage Trail App was released during Archaeology Week named ‘Public Houses, Private Lives’. It is available for download from app stores and gives you the chance to discover some of the central Christchurch hotels for yourself. So, there are no excuse to get into it! Easy peasy! In keeping with the theme of hotels, today we’ll track down some distinctive aspects and activities that happened in the Christchurch hotels throughout the Victorian era… Righty-ho!

Observer 30/04/1910: 16. I couldn’t start without an image as ‘suite-able’ as this one! No comment from the Gender and Feminist Archaeologist…except perhaps to say that this is an illustrative example of the male perspective.

Hotels in mid-late 19th century not only offered accommodation and entertainment to residents and visitors, they were a central hub for the community (for better or for worse). As establishments with bars or pubs, alcohol could be provided cheaply and in copious quantities to patrons.

A variety of alcohol bottles recovered from the Occidental Hotel, where the alcohol bottles made up half of the artefacts found! All different shapes and sizes to cover all sort of consumer tastes: black beer, wine, porter, stout and other spirit or liquor bottles. Image: M. Lillo Bernabeu.

Archaeologically, we can certainly attest to the fact that alcohol was widely consumed at hotels as it forms much of the tangible evidence derived from the finds. Either dumped at the rear of the sections, thrown away into an open ditch or even accumulated underneath the dwelling. The Wheatsheaf Hotel was no exception. It was built by John Shand and Herbert Coupe in 1865. The men were granted a general license for premises, but they neglected to take it up within the prescribed time. The license was cancelled, and they had to reapply (whoops!). They didn’t waste their time in obtaining alcohol though. Lots of artefacts were found under the floor, dominated by a huge quantity of bottle corks, indicating that the patrons of the hotel certainly enjoyed a drink (or two). It’s worth noting that some of the alcohol bottles uncovered had been discarded whole and unexpectedly still sealed.

Top: Heaps of corks! Bottom: Sealed bottle! Specifically, Boord’s Gin. Joseph Boord was a distiller, who became famous for the Old Tom style of gin (Stephenson 2016). He first registered his ‘cat and barrel’ trademark for Old Tom gin in 1849. The trademark featured a cat sitting on top of a wooden cask. Boord stated that this was a pun referencing the ‘Old Tom’ in the name of the gin, which was named after a man called Thomas Chamberlain. Joseph Boord was still in business in 1903, when the company defended the trademark against a rival distillery. Image: C. Dickson.

Historically, local newspapers recorded a variety of stories of drunken and disorderly behaviour that resulted from such easy access to alcohol, including sporadic burglaries, drowning, assaults and murders, to name a few.

Criminal activity at 19th century hotels. Clockwise from left: Observer (6/04/1907: 12), Grey River Argus (14/10/1885: 2) and Press (14/07/1876: 3).

Drinking went hand in hand with other activities, like smoking, or games such as billiards, skittles and dominoes. The presence of clay pipes on hotel sites may be evidence for the social side of pipe smoking, or an indication of providing ‘home comforts’ to hotel guests. In regard to gambling, the City Hotel became famous for (ostensibly) having the best billiard room in New Zealand. The Caversham Hotel, in addition to being an accommodation house and pub, also provided games such as billiards and skittles (an early form of bowling). During the 1880s the hotel had an outdoor skittle ground, which was the site of several competitive matches during the decade (Star 31/01/1885: 2).

Left: Clay smoking pipes stems from the Oxford Hotel site made by Charles Crop, a London pipe manufacturer operating during the 19th century. His pipes are commonly found on archaeological sites in New Zealand and Australia (Ayto 1999: 14, Brassey 1991: 30, Macready et al. 1990: 57). Image: J. Garland. Right: Cutty smoking pipe and a clay pipe decorated with a three-masted sailing ship (most likely a clipper) and an anchor looped with rope on opposite sides of the bowl. Image: C. Dickson.

There is no archaeological record of billiards or skittles but of dominoes instead! Playing pieces consisted of a bone face and a thicker wooden backing. The game of dominoes was a popular pastime among both children and adults, particularly in pub or hotel contexts (Bone et al. 2017). Very few dominoes have been found on Christchurch archaeological sites, but at least one was found on the site of a 19th century hotel. Image: C. Dickson.

Leaving aside the drinking culture and related habits for a while, hotels hosted several sporting and social meetings and events, and many proprietors became notable figures in the community thanks to the visibility and respectability of their establishments. John George Ruddenklau was one of those gentlemen. He opened the City Hotel on the corner of Colombo, Cashel and High Streets (what used to be known as the Triangle Centre) in 1864. Although no archaeology was found on the site of the City Hotel, tiny pieces of a saucer and a teacup were found in other central Christchurch sites with the initials J.G.R. and the name ‘City Hotel’ transfer printed into the design. An excellent example of personal and commercial branding in the Victorian era. These marked ceramics suggest that Rudenklau was prosperous enough to afford its own customised china. Exactly how that china ended up on other sites in the city is unknown. He may have sold or given it away after his retirement in 1869, or it may have been ‘taken’ by guests of the hotel at any point during its operation.

Left: Shamrock patterned saucer and teacup with the City Hotel and the initials J.G.R printed on it. Image: M. Lillo Bernabeu. Right: John George Ruddenklau, c. 1892. Image: Christchurch City Libraries, CCL PhotoCD 15, IMG0097.

Hotels were also recreational places to enjoy a meal and some entertainment, as well as providing a home away from home for travellers. A wide variety of table and serving wares is considered a characteristic of non-domestic assemblages like hotels, boarding houses and other commercial establishments associated with the provision of food and drink (Lawrence et al. 2009: 75-77). The presence of matching sets may indicate that the hotel chose to serve meals on matching plates and dishes, likely representing what must have been a first-class dinner experience for the guests. In particular, the Occidental Hotel became one of the most well-known hotels in Christchurch, with a room maintained solely for the use of visiting members of the Parliament – a clear indicator of the hotel status.

This set of Belmont patterned vessels made by the Staffordshire potter Pinder, Bourne and Co. (1862-1882) were found on the Occidental Hotel site. The range of tableware recorded, showed that dining was a formal activity at this site, with specialised forms such as a ladle, a cover dish, tureens and a number of plates and other serving wares.

Personal items are scarcely identified on hotel assemblages. These goods hold great value for archaeologists as they tell us about private lives within public spaces (i.e. hotels) in the Victorian era and provide evidence of daily domestic life within this unique space. They may have belonged to the proprietors, visitors or haven been provided to guests by the hotel itself. Their rarity is also what makes them captivating for us.

Perfume bottles. Right: This one may have held a fragrance, based on its size and octagonal shape, similar to the J. M. Farina Cologne bottles found on other Christchurch archaeological sites. Left: Piesse and Lubin bottle. They were perfume manufacturers established in 1855 in London. Their fragrance was first advertised for sale in New Zealand newspapers as early as 1857 (Wellington Independent 20/05/1857: 3). In the 19th century, perfume became intimately entangled with gender. Despite the growing popularity of perfumes in the written record towards the end of the 19th century, especially for women, we don’t find that many perfume bottles on archaeological sites here in Christchurch. Image: M. Lillo Bernabeu.

Clockwise from top: John Gosnell’s Cherry Toothpaste first produced in the 1850s, hair comb made from vulcanite or vulcanised rubber (brushing and combing the hair was a frequent recommendation in the 19th century newspapers and magazines to encourage a healthy hair), bone toothbrush made in Liverpool by an unknown manufacturer. Image: J. Garland.

To conclude our particular approach to the daily life at Christchurch hotels though the artefacts and other sources, I’ll return to the beginning: hotels were an important part of the social development of both the public and private areas in the 19th and the early 20th centuries. Who knew hotels were such versatile places!

Just witty! (Observer 7/09/1912: 17).

Maria Lillo Bernabeu

References

Ayto, E. G., 1994. Clay Tobacco Pipes. Shire Publications

Bone, K., Dickson, C. and Whybrew, C., 2017. 6 Winchester Street, Lyttelton: Report on Archaeological Monitoring. Unpublished report for Holloway Builders Ltd.

Brassey, R., 1991. Clay Tobacco Pipes from the Site of the Victoria Hotel, Auckland, New Zealand. Australasian Historical Archaeology, Vol. 9: 27-30.

Godden, G., 1991. Encyclopaedia of British Pottery and Porcelain Marks. Crown Publishers, New York.

Grey River Agust. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz [Accessed May 2018].

Lawrence, S., Brooks, A. and Lennon, J., 2009. Ceramics and Status in Regional Australia. Australasian Historical Archaeology, Vol. 27: 67-78.

Macready, S. and Goodwyn, J., 1990. Slums and Self-Improvement. The History and Archaeology of the Mechanics Institute, Auckland, and it’s Chancery Street Neighbourhood, Vol 2: The Artefacts and Faunal Material. Science and Research Report 92, Department of Conservation, Wellington.

Observer. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz [Accessed May 2018].

Press. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz [Accessed May 2018].

Star. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz [Accessed May 2018].

Stephenson, T., 2016. The Curious Bartender’s Gin Palace. Ryland Peters and Small, London.

Wellington Independent. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz [Accessed May 2018].

Gin! That aromatic schnapps, that bright moon beam, the Mother’s Ruin…

Archaeologists and whisky go well together. I agree with that universal truth. However, I fit in the gin lovers team at the office. So, as Jessie did one year ago, I’m writing a post combining two of my favourite things: archaeology and gin.

To be honest, the blog today is also inspired by two recent personal and professional experiences. On the one hand, I’ve been on holidays in Spain and I drank a few gin and tonics over there, enjoying the warm and sunny days with family and friends. On the other hand, I’ve been working on Christchurch assemblages dominated by alcohol bottles for the last few months. And, now that I’m back in New Zealand and ready for the summer, well, I have to ask, who is the queen of that season? It is, of course, that most infernal of paradoxes, the drink that is both the fiend and that pure essence and bright spirit…Gin!

Gin and tonics. Image: M. Lillo Bernabeu.

We’ve talked before about gin, its good and bad reputation and the uses and brands found on 19th century Christchurch sites. We even showed you several gin recipes! However, that was a long time ago and we’ve come across even more gin bottles to share with you, along with new discoveries and perspectives on this popular product, which originated in Europe as far back as the Middle Ages.

Do you think that they deserve another drink? I don’t think that I could walk over the Serpentine (my tipsy body balance is not that good)… Despite the many efforts of the Temperance Union, alcohol consumption was a common social practice and problem throughout the 19th century. Image: Auckland Star 02/07/1904: 10.

Those of you who regularly read this blog know well that bottles are the most common artefacts recovered from 19th century historical sites in Christchurch and elsewhere in New Zealand. You will also know from us that labels and embossing are the best clues we can find to guess what a bottle contained. So, here’s a few that we’ve been able to identify as gin…

The most common gin bottle type that we find is the case gin, easily identifiable and so named for the shape that allowed it to be packed and shipped to be exported to the colonies by the case load.

This case gin bottle has the remains of a red label. Unfortunately, it cannot be associated with any manufacturer or product, although it is very likely that the bottle originally contained gin. Image: M. Lillo Bernabeu.

As well as the classic case gin bottle, we’ve found a variety of other gin bottle shapes. This appreciated and valued extract of juniper berries was stored in both ceramic and glass bottles of different shapes and sizes. The brands and manufacturers were stamped on the bottles using labels, embossing, blob seals and incised marks.

So, here we go…

OLD TOM GIN. A classic! It’s a sweeter style of gin (also referred to as a cordial) that was popular in the latter half of the 19th century. It’s having something of a renaissance at the moment, especially in cocktails, although to be honest, I prefer the drier styles of gin. The label on this  Old Tom Cordial bottle reads ‘Swaine, Boord and Co.’, referring to a company that used an “Old Tom” cat on a barrel as their trademark. This trademark was registered by Joseph Boord in 1849. There are various stories involving cats and the origin of the name, but the general consensus is that the gin was named after Thomas Chamberlain, an early 19th century distiller (Foundry, 2017). Image: M. Lillo Bernabeu.

HENKES GENEVA. J. H. Henkes was a gin distillery located on the Voorhaven in Delftshaven, Rotterdam and established in 1824. This Dutch region was known for its gin during the 19th century. It is unclear when the distillery ceased operations, although their name continued to be trademarked in the 20th century. Actually, Henkes Schnapps was still being advertised in New Zealand in the 1920s and 1930s. The first advertisement for the J. H. Henkes gin in NZ newspapers is in 1869 and refers to ‘J. H. Henkes Prize Medal Stone Gin’ (Nelson Evening Mail 05/12/1873: 3). Images: J. Garland (left) and New Zealand Herald 17/11/1931: 3 (right).

BLANKENHEYM & NOLET’S GIN. Blankenheym and Nolet was a distillery established in 1714 in Schiedam, a Dutch city well-known for its production of Genever (or Dutch gin). It is believed that they created the ‘Oude Genever’ (Nicks Wine Merchants, 2017). Their aromatic schnapps was advertised in New Zealand from 1877 well into the 20th century and was described as ‘the purest spirit in the market’ (Evening Post 11/09/1901: 2). By the end of the 19th century, the circular impressed marks were being replaced with paper labels and by the early 20th century the stoneware bottles themselves were declining in popularity (Garland et al. 2014: 158-169). Images: M. Lillo Bernabeu (left) and Evening Post 11/09/1901: 2 (right).

BOOTH’S DRY GIN. Booth’s were established in the 16th century as wine merchants, but by 1740 they had begun operating a distillery in London (Difford’s Guide 2014). Their products remained popular during the 19th and 20th centuries and Booth’s gin was heavily advertised in New Zealand newspapers of the period. Booth’s got the highest award from the Institute of Hygiene (the origin of the Society of Public Health) as the purest and finest Dry Gin, fair enough to taste it! Image: M. L. Bernabeu (left) and Press 13/02/1935: 16 (right).

GILBEY’S GIN. Brothers Walter and Alfred Gilbey founded their business in 1857 in London, as wine and spirits merchants and soon began to produce spirits, particularly London dry gin (Difford’s Guide 2017). The third brother, Henry, joined the firm in 1865. They opened branches in Ireland, Scotland and by the 1920s the company also had gin distilleries in Australia and Canada (Difford’s Guide 2017). Gilbey’s gin was widely advertised in New Zealand newspapers from the end of 19th century onwards. Image: M. Lillo Bernabeu (left) and New Zealand Herald 24/05/1932:15 (right).

Do you like flavoured gin? Have a look at this special Gilbey’s Orange Gin made from the ‘pure juice of the Seville orange’. I still prefer the original sour taste of this marvellous schnapps… Image: Press 1/04/1934: 13.

BOLS GIN. Erven Lucas Bols, Lootsje, Amsterdam was a company formed in the late 16th century in the business of producing, distributing, selling and marketing gin and other liquors. By the 1820s, the distillery introduced a new gin, defined by a better balance of malt wine, neutral grain alcohol and botanicals (Bols Amsterdam 2017). Despite its claim to be the oldest distillery brand in the world, Bols Gin was first mentioned in New Zealand newspapers in the 1920s, described as ‘a tonic 350 years old’ supplied by ‘hotels, clubs or merchants’ (New Zealand Herald 19/10/1925: 13). Image: M. Lillo Bernabeu (left) and New Zealand Herald 19/10/1925: 13 (right).

Bols Gin is well worth a mention, because it seems to be (supposedly) the perfect pick-me-up…if you are a sports person, a businessman (or woman), if you feel sick, tired or want to sleep well and wake up fresh, that’s it! A shot of gin will work it out! Have you taken yours? I got my one! See below to find yours!

Do you feel sick or a bit weak? Are you a hay fever sufferer? Get into the gin! (New Zealand Herald 14/01/1926: 10).

Do you play cricket, bowling, tennis? After your physical effort, you deserve the gin! (New Zealand Truth 25/07/1925: 6).

If you like playing football, you also need a refreshment after a strenuous match to recover energy! (New Zealand Herald 20/07/1925: 10).

That’s my one! Finally, I’ve found the antidote to keep me awake the whole day, particularly at ‘siesta’ (nap) time. The secret of my happiness and joy… (New Zealand Herald 23/07/1925: 7).

It is also quite common to have trouble sleeping sometimes… (New Zealand Herald 23/11/1925: 7).

At this point, we have everything we need to enjoy a nip of gin: several brands to choose and a range of perfect excuses to drink it! To complete this heavenly sin, the archaeological record also offers us what we need: a glass. Glass table ware is often encountered on Christchurch sites, mostly fragmented and incomplete. While the tumblers were probably used as drinking vessels for either alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages, stemmed drinking glasses were exclusively intended for alcoholic drinks such as sherry, port, brandy, cognac, champagne, sparkling wines and why not? Gin or maybe whisky?

Tumblers (top) and stemmed drinking glasses (bottom). The two bright glasses are my favourite! They are decorated with a diamond pattern in an unusual shade of lime green. These were made of glass known as uranium glass, ‘canary’ glass or ‘vaseline’ glass, containing oxide diuranate uranium as a colouring agent (Jones 2000: 147). It became popular during the mid-19th century, in particular from the 1880s until the 1920s (Jones 2000: 147). Image: M. Lillo Bernabeu.

As we keep uncovering 19th century artefacts, the information about alcohol consumption in Christchurch is continuously updating. But let me finish as I began, referring to my lovely colleagues. I would like to send a message to the majority of whisky drinkers at the office. Will you be able to resist the charms of the Mother’s Ruin?

Otago Daily Times 28/04/1927: 4.

Perhaps, you will become gin lovers sooner that you might think, keeping in mind that ‘good gin makes and ideal morning refresher…with ginger ale, squash and soda, ginger beer or tonic water’ (heaps of choices, including yummy ice cream!) and the summer is coming… (although I’m aware of your whisky loyalty, my buddies!). I’m not trying to persuade you all to convert, I promise…

New Zealand Herald 7/01/1925.

Maria Lillo Bernabeu

References

Auckland Star. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz. [Accessed October 2017]

Bols Amsterdam, 2017. [online] Available at https://bols.com/brand-promise [Accessed October 2017]

Difford’s Guide, 2017. History of Gin (1831-1953). [online] Available at https://www.diffordsguide.com/encyclopedia/1060/bws/history-of-gin-1831-to-1953 [Accessed October 2017]

Evening Post. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz. [Accessed October 2017]

Foundry, G., 2017. An Intro to Old Tom Gin. [online] Available at http://www.ginfoundry.com/insights/introduction-old-tom-gin/ [Accessed October 2017].

Garland, J., Carter, M. and Geary Nichol, R., 2014. The Terrace, M35/1050, Christchurch: Report on Archaeological Investigations, Vol. 1. Unpublished report for Hereford Holdings.

Jones, O. R., 2000. A Guide to Dating Glass Tableware: 1800 – 1940. In Karklins, K. (Ed). Studies in Material Culture Research. Society for Historical Archaeology, Pennsylvania.

Nelson Evening Mail. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz. [Accessed October 2017]

New Zealand Herald. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz. [Accessed October 2017]

New Zealand Trust. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz. [Accessed October 2017]

Nicks Wine Merchants, 2017. Blankenheym & Nolet Oude Genever. [online] Available at https://www.nicks.com.au/blankenheym-nolet-oude-genever-jenever-1000ml [Accessed October 2017]

Stichting Vrienden van de Oude, 2011. Pelgrimvaderskerk Rotterdam-Delfshaven [online] Available at http://www.pilgrimfatherschurch.org/en/history-of-delfshaven [Accessed October 2017]

Star. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz. [Accessed October 2017]

Van Kessel, I. 2002. Merchants, Missionaries & Migrants: 300 years of Dutch- Ghanian Relations.