Archive of Business Correspondence Urbana Wine Company Hammondsport, New York 1890s
by (Urbana Wine Company)
No Binding. Very Good. The archive consists of approximately 182 letters, 278 pages, both handwritten and typed, plus 20 ephemeral items, they are all in very good, legible condition, and are all generally on company letterhead, and quite attractive. Altogether a substantial and revealing file of correspondence regarding the marketing of an important New York State wine producer. An interesting archive of business correspondence from the Urbana Wine Company, a pioneering Finger Lakes winery, established in 1865. At the period covered here, the 1890s, New York had established itself as a dominant wine producer- second only to California. Urbana's product line included sweet and dry Catawba, claret, Tokay, port, brandy and sherry. The company's 'Gold Seal' champagne - special dry, extra dry and brut - was the leading American sparkling white at the time, and later in the next century, following prohibition, the company greatly influenced the region's viticulture by hiring a manager from Veuve Cliquot. The archive can be divided into the following sections: 1. 48 typed and autograph letters signed, (two incomplete) from Urbana sales representative, John L. Huss, totaling 126 pages, regarding wine customers, their likes and dislikes, and orders for wine, from hotels and restaurants, saloons, hospitals, rail cars, etc., largely in New England and New York City. January 1897 - March 1898. These are substantial and detailed letters written on the road from an aggressive salesman (at one point he apologizes for an angry outburst, saying "you didn't hire me for my looks,") who cultivates business in a broad spectrum of venues, from local road houses to the Boston Yacht Club and fancy hotels. 2. 20 autograph letters signed, totaling 38 pages from the President of the Urbana Wine Company, W. E. Hildreth, to the Director and Manager, J. W. Davis, regarding advertising and marketing, pricing, finances, sales reps (including Mr. Huss, above) and other executive matters. 3. 3 autograph letters, signed and 1 typed letter signed by J. W. Davis, Director and Manager, mostly regarding appointments. September 1893-December 1897. 4. 7 typed letters signed, and 3 autograph letters signed, by Alpha S. DeLissa, wine and spirit merchant, to J. W. Davis of the Urbana Wine Company, regarding orders and shipments, together with 8 bank receipts, outlining payments made by DeLissa to Urbana. November 1893-April 1895. 5. Approximately 100 pieces of correspondence from customers and vendors of the Urbana Wine Company, including orders from private individuals, hotels and restaurants from as far away as Texas, but mostly from the northeast. Various sizes, various dates. 6. A dozen miscellaneous ephemeral items relating to the Urbana Wine Company, including order slips and bills. The Urbana Wine Company, was located four miles north of the village of Hammondsport, in the town of Urbana, Steuben County, New York. The winery was established in 1865, and known as the Urbana Wine Company until 1881 when it was reorganized under the name of "New Urbana Wine Company." The company applied for the Gold Seal trademark in 1887. The company was renamed the "Urbana Wine Company" in 1896. The company reorganized after the passage of the Volstead Act and the beginning of Prohibition, and renamed the Gold Seal Products Company. During Prohibition the company produced sacramental wine. After Prohibition the name was returned to "Urbana Wine Company, Inc." After Prohibition, Edward Stewart Underhill, Jr., President of the company went to Rheims, France and brought Charles Fournier, from Veuve Cliquot, where he served as production manager. Underhill hired him as the winemaker and production manager of Urbana Wine Company, and although Fournier intended to stay just a few years, he remained employed there the rest of his life. He introduced several important French-American hybrid grape varieties into the production of wine. He was made pr (Inventory #: 030097)
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