Calgary Wine and Spirit Company Whiskey Jug, pre-1915

To blog or not to blog, that is the question.  Not sure what all I could write about.  I could always share with you information on some of our findings.  Or, perhaps I could share with you some of the ups and downs of having a home based antiques and collectibles business. 

So for my first ever blog, I’ll talk about a most interesting acquisition we made recently.  It was brought to us, along with a few other items, by someone who was cleaning out their attic.  It’s a RARE jug specially made, probably by Medalta, for the Calgary Wine and Spirit Company.  

I couldn’t find any similar item anywhere on the Internet.  However, I was able to find some information about the company.  

  • In 1905, Vital Raby, a mature and prosperous businessman from Quebec, and his brother in law and business partner, Phileas Laurendau purchase the Calgary Wine and Spirit Company.  They expand into Edmonton in 1908.   
  • Their retail outlet in Calgary is located at 113 - 8th Avenue SW . 
  • They acquire the property at 121 - 7th Avenue SW, where Calgary's first electric powerhouse had been built, and expand the building into a warehouse.  
  • With an extensive retail as well as wholesale trade, Raby is considered one of the major liquor dealers in the province.  
  • The company ceases operation in 1915 in advance of Prohibition, which commences in 1916 and lasts until 1924. 
  • The company could have sold their alcohol as a prescription medicine, a loophole that encouraged bootlegging.  However, the men shut the doors instead, uninterested in the risk.  

SAM 6501

A few questions seem to be unanswered.  1) From whom was the company bought?  2) Who were the first owners and when was the Calgary Wine and Spirit Company first established?  

Another document found on the Internet states that the old powerhouse property was bought in 1900.  Is this document wrong or did the partners actually buy the company prior to 1905?  Or did they actually start the company from scratch rather than buying it?      

There are no markings to indicate which pottery plant made the jug.  One would presume Medalta since it is only a few hours east of Calgary.  The style of the stamp is similar to that used by Medalta from 1918-1922.  However, Ronald M. Getty’s book “Know Your Medalta, Stamps and Other Markings, A Guide to Dating Products” seems to indicate that Medalta only began production in 1916 - AFTER the demise of the Calgary Wine and Spirit Company.  

Alberta Centennial website states that in 1912, the Medicine Hat Pottery Company was started and that three years later, the company changed hands and was renamed Medalta Potteries Limited.  Therefore, the jug could have been manufactured by the parent company or by Medalta…  

The jug is in excellent condition, no cracks or nicks and is also stamped “imperial” at the top.  For now, it is on display in our store.  It looks good and makes for a great conversation piece.  Of course, we welcome appraisals from serious collectors - they’re the ones who know the value of what they collect.

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