S.F. Gaslight Ammonia now Greer’s Washing Ammonia?
23 April 2011
On my visit to see the Robert Frank Collection late last year in Lompoc, California I was drawn to this beautiful, light canary yellow bottle in one of his display cases that had more bubbles than I had ever seen on a bottle. Upon inspection, I could see lightly embossed and engulfed in character, “AMMONIA”… I recall being told it was also embossed S.F. GASLIGHT CO“.
When I say bubbles, I mean tiny and sparkly bubbles on the outside, inside and middle. There were even bubbles on bubbles! This is a wonderful bottle folks.
I can not find much information on this bottle. Maybe someone out west will chime in. Here is what I found. 1890 vintage, about 7 5/8″ high. San Francisco Gaslight Co. was formed April 1, 1873 by the merger of three companies. It morphed into San Francisco Gas and Electric Co. prior to 1906, when the company’s main gas plant at the foot of Laguna was destroyed by the quake.
Ammonia-saturated water is a byproduct of coal gas manufacture. Perhaps it was bottled at the “gashouse cove” plant, where gas was manufactured beginning in the early 1880s, or at one of the smaller, older works that were supplanted by “North Beach Station” (sic), alleged to be the finest gas works west of Chicago. Perhaps Pacific Ammonia and Chemical Co., located near the gas works at the intersection of Webster and Francisco, an intersection that no longer exists, bottled the ammonia under contract.
***Important new information***….See Ham and Mlasko responses below. Stay tuned…