In 1905, the book Kentuckians As We See Them was published. It is a collection of political cartoons of people living in the Commonwealth as drawn by the leading political cartoonist of the time. There are many people in this book and a few of them are distillers. It is interesting to look at these images and notice what the political cartoonist of the time chose to feature in their cartoon images. For this blog I have chosen four distillers with very different images.
The first distiller is Marion E. Taylor of the firm Wright and Taylor. The cartoonist chose to draw him as a Roman soldier with “Cesar” carved on a column in the background. He is holding a scroll with ‘Old Charter’ inscribed on it. Taylor was not only a distiller but also very active in the city Chamber of Commerce. He did have a reputation as being autocratic and one has to believe that this attitude inspired the cartoonist. Old Charter was Wright and Taylor’s most popular brand and a straight Bourbon, but the firm was also known for many rectified products like Old Ky. Taylor. That brand landed Marion Taylor in court when E.H. Taylor, Jr. & Sons sued to protect their Old Taylor trademark.
Next there is Bernard Bernheim of Bernheim Distilling Co. Bernard was I.W. Bernheim’s brother and business partner. Bernard is depicted dressed in a fine suit and hat in what looks to be a wine cellar with a barrel of “Bernheim’s Best Whiskey For Family Use” branded on the head of the barrel. The barrel is tapped and Bernard is pouring a drink from a bottle one assumes just filled from the barrel. Bernard Bernheim was the accountant for the firm and less visible than his older brother Isaac. The cartoonist could have chosen the setting because he was the less public of the two brothers.
The third image is of George G. Brown President of Brown-Forman Co. George is sitting on a barrel with “Old Forrester Whiskey Louisville, Ky.” branded on the head. Using an upturned barrel as a table, Brown is penning a scroll titled “The Fallacy of the Prohibition Cause”. George Garvin Brown is known for writing against Prohibition in papers and even wrote the book “The Holy Bible Repudiates Prohibition” in which he cites Bible verses that support moderate drinking. It is no wonder that the cartoonist chose to draw Brown in this setting.
Finally there is Samuel Grabfelder President of S. Grabfelder & Co. He is little known today as his business did not survive Prohibition, but he was well known in 1905. He was very active in the community and his firm was one of the largest in the city of Louisville and the State of Kentucky. He is depicted in a fine suit and tie standing with a building identified as “Free Hospital” in the background. He is saying “We need more free hospitals”. Grabfelder gave a lot of money to support hospitals in Louisville and was active in the cause. This cartoonist chose to emphasize this charity work in his cartoon of Grabfelder.
A cartoon is a good way to look at a person and see how they were perceived by the public. This book is an excellent example of this perception. There are other distillers in the book and the cartoons tell interesting stories about them.