Saturday, November 26, 2011

Last Chance for the Goodkind

Last Chance for the Goodkind

Some history would be appropriate at this point.

Brothers Abraham L. and Edward I. Goodkind, and Meyer and Charles Wise operated a wholesale wine, liquor, and cigar business in Helena, Montana, from 1890 or 1891 until 1896 when the Wise brothers left the business. The Goodkind brothers continued their operation until Edward died on May 11, 1916. The preceding is directly from the Montana Historical Society Research Center.

This particular billhead is dated October 12, 1903. I have seen (and have in my possession) some Wise & Goodkind paper, but this piece was of particular interest to me because of the label.

I've had in my possession, albeit not for very long, two pieces of Goodkind Brothers billhead.  I had the good fortune of finding a local patron who willingly sold me a piece of Goodkind paper, and then loaned me a small whiskey bottle that still had the label affixed. I took it home, shot photographs of it, and then returned the bottle. A week later, I completed the art work, showed it to him, and he purchased it. It never made it into a frame.

While at a brick and mortar antique shop in Chinook, Montana, several months ago, I was shown two original Goodkind Brothers labels. The shop owner was willing to make copies of both of the labels, but I had to commit to NOT sharing the copies with anyone, especially on the web. I returned home with the copies, and contacted the fellow who had the bottle I had already used, and he provided me with a pint bottle (a flask) that had a pewter screw-on cap. He also gifted me two other bottles, one in amber and the other a beautiful fluted shoulder bottle, both of them dug locally.

The studio process involved more than one step: I had to do some touch-up work on both of the labels, and I had to size them appropriate to the bottles. I finished and published the results of the Royal Club Rye Whiskey flask which you can see here, if you haven't seen it already.

The second was a bit more complicated. The provenance for both of these labels is impeccable, although I have no idea, nor does anyone else, if these labels were ever used. Bottle collectors, or even collectors of lithographic labels would probably be able to determine if there are any other copies of these labels out there in private hands. They both came from a printer's book which had numerous labels pasted into it. From the additional markings on the label, my guess is that the label was used, or at least printed.

I've tried to stay as true to the original label as I could, because I did want to give the viewer the impression that the label indeed is a real label on a real bottle.

This piece may be a keeper. I have one other piece of Wise & Goodkind paper, and I know where there is at least one other piece of Goodkind billhead that is the same size as this piece. I also know where there is a smaller piece of their paper with a vignette of their building on the corner of Sixth and Last Chance Gulch (now known as Main Street) here in Helena, and the building still stands. I have forty hours of work on this piece, and that's no joke - I kept track. Working on it was like working on one of my cacheted covers, but I also had to make it look like the real thing. The label really does tell the story of placer mining as it was done, and I wanted to make certain that it looked right. The artist that did this label knew what placer mining was about, and depicted it quite well. The background also looks like a local stream, which makes the whole thing seem to shout MONTANA.  Enjoy. It was a labor of love.


  1. Oh, my! You have outdone yourself, Dave! Gorgeous!

  2. Great story as always...and it is so hard to get the good kind anymore!!!

  3. Love your art work and the history behind it. I once had an old bottle I found under the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI.(They were renovating the building) I scrubbed off the label, not very smart! The day I decided to give it to a friend who collects bottles, I dropped and broke it. I too am interested in the story behind objects. :>))