Home > History of Wine > Three America Wine Auction Broadsides from the 1840s and 1850s.

Three America Wine Auction Broadsides from the 1840s and 1850s.


It was not until I began to correspond with Mannie Berk, proprietor of The Rare Wine Co., that I began to look at historic wine auction catalogs.  Some of these catalogs are multi-page documents with a few hundred lots of wine.  Others are simply single-sheet broadsides.  In this post I present three publicly available broadsides from the 1840s and 1850s.  I find these broadsides interesting because they allow us to trace the movement of specific parcels of wine such as the “Bramin”, “Wanderer”, “Hindostan”, “Mandarin”, and “Odessa” Madeiras.  These last three names are new to me.

Catalogue of old wines, part of the estate of Thos. B. Adair. December 3, 1845. Duke University. [1]

Catalogue of old wines, part of the estate of Thos. B. Adair. December 3, 1845. Duke University. [1]

There are also unique wines such as the “Old Lisbon, stood several years on the Lees of Mad[eira].” or the specific parcels of 1836 Jules Lausseau, Chambertin.  Perhaps illustrating the practice of blending Bordeaux is the lot of “Hermitage Claret” prior to the lot of Chateau Margaux.

Public sale of superior old wines ... Jas. C. McGuire, Auctioneer. Washington City, D. C. [1853]. The Library of Congress. [2]

Public sale of superior old wines … Jas. C. McGuire, Auctioneer. Washington City, D. C. [1853]. The Library of Congress. [2]

We can also learn about the types of wax seals used such as “Green Seal” and “Red Seal” Madeira.  The sale of William Plympton’s wines suggest a wide range of wax colors.  The right-most column could indicate the wax color because the lot of “Old Black Cork Madeira” is followed by color Black.  In this case he used five different colors of wax: black, red, green, brown, and yellow.

Stock of wines and liquors at auction. ca. 1855. Duke University. [3]

Stock of wines and liquors at auction. ca. 1855. Duke University. [3]


[1] Catalogue of old wines, part of the estate of Thos. B. Adair. December 3, 1845. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University Libraries. URL: http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/broadsides_bdsmd30948/

[2] Public sale of superior old wines … Jas. C. McGuire, Auctioneer. Washington City, D. C. [1853]. An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera. American Memory, The Library of Congress. URL: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.rbc/rbpe.20100200

[3] Stock of wines and liquors at auction.  ca. 1855. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University Libraries. URL: http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/broadsides_bdszz164022/

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