Gentry, Slote & Co., New York
23 October 2018
Dean Ferguson sent the three pictures below of a “Good Samaritan Brandy”, “Gentry, Slote & Co., New York” flattened globular form bottle that he secured at a barn find from the Darlington farm in Darling, Pennsylvania which is west of Philadelphia. He said the house was very early. The bottle has an applied mouth with a cork and a super iron pontil. Dean asked if I had any information on the bottle.
I was unfamiliar with the bottle but the Gentry name sure caught my attention.
A quick search online confirmed that Norman C. Heckler Auctions had auctioned off a similar example of a “Full Figure Of Horse”, “Gentry, Slote & Co., New York” pictorial flask (GXIII-25) a few years back. Looks to be the same exact bottle form. The example was ex Paul Richards collection and ex Timothy and Christine Hill collection.
Colonel Abram Morrice Gentry, son of Joseph and Mary (Van Meter) Gentry, was born in Brookville, Indiana in May 1821 and headed to Houston at a young age in 1838. He married Mary Frances Rather in Houston on October 29, 1844 and set up A.M. Gentry & Company offering package express for Houston, Galveston, the United States and abroad via stagecoach lines and steamers.
Gentry then established A.M. Gentry & Co., Wholesale Grocers on Congress Street in downtown Houston in 1855 or so. That is a few blocks from where I sit right now. They were also importers of Wines, Liquors, Cigars, Hardware, Crockery and many other useful items of the time period. He took on partners in New York and Boston and ran similar operations in those cities. First in New York we see Lowery, Gentry, Slote Co., Wholesale Grocers and Commission Merchants located at 121 Front Street in 1856. By 1857, Lowery is gone and the firm is Gentry, Slote & Company. By 1858, it is Gentry, Otis & Co. at the same address up until 1860 or so. In Boston in 1860, it was Gentry, Stiles & Co. Gentry and Otis or any other Gentry listing does not show up in NYC directories after that date.
This pretty much means the Good Samaritan Brandy and the figural Horse bottle were made around 1857.
Oh, and the reason Gentry caught my attention when I first saw a picture of the Gentry, Stote Co., Good Samaritan Brandy bottle? Gentry & Otis were the same grocers that put out St. Nicholas Stomach Bitters (pictured above). If you read the linked article and look at the second 1858 newspaper advertisement, you will see that A.M. Gentry, on Congress Street in Houston, had just received a tremendous shipment of liquor and tobacco from his New York concern. Included were 450 cases of Good Samaritan Brandy and 290 cases of Extra Old Pony Brandy. Wow, I need to stop digging online and dig along the Buffalo Bayou downtown!