The Louise Richardson Night Before Christmas Collection includes many instances of Clement C. Moore’s famous Christmas poem. Today’s post highlights a publication that might easily be overlooked by Noelophiles: a 1910 advertisement for J. Rieger & Company, the self-described “largest Mail Order Whiskey House in America.”
Jacob Rieger & Company was founded in 1887 in Kansas City, Missouri. Their distillery and distributor offered over 100 alcoholic products, and serviced hundreds of thousands of customers, until going out of business in 1919 when Prohibition began in the United States.
In 1910, eighty-seven years after “The Night Before Christmas” first appeared in print as “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” its copyright had long expired, and anyone who wanted to re-publish the text of the poem was free to do so. J. Rieger & Co. took advantage of the poem’s status to include it in a colorful four-page holiday advertisement they produced that year. Nominally a gift for their “customers’ children” that was “suitable for framing,” the interior pages of the pamphlet reveal a Holiday Good Cheer Offer (presumably NOT for children), whereby quart bottles of Rieger’s Monogram 1875 Brand Whiskey were available at a special holiday bulk rate. The back page of the leaflet includes an original holiday message “expressly for the children of our customers” from Oscar Rieger, grandson of company founder Jacob Rieger. Without knowing more about the pamphlet’s distribution, we can only guess how many children unwittingly brought home whiskey ads in December 1910.
In absence of Rieger & Co’s “amber colored nectar,” we instead present here a copy of the original pamphlet to help you celebrate the holiday season. Click through each thumbnail image to see larger-than-life versions of this singular Christmas greeting.
It seems unlikely that the modern J. Rieger distillery is honoring these offers, but if so, don’t forget to add 10 cents per quart in Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, and North Dakota.
Happy Holidays to all from FSU Special Collections & Archives!
“J. Rieger & Co: A Kansas City Distillery.” http://jriegerco.com/
J. Rieger & Company leaflet, 1910, Louise Richardson Night Before Christmas Collection, Special Collections & Archives, Florida State University Libraries, Tallahassee, Florida. http://purl.fcla.edu/MSS_12-24