Uncle Sam's Monogram Whiskey, Tin Sign, Geo. Benz & Sons, MSP, MN. Ca. 1900


I love this self-framed Monogram Whiskey tin sign from the George Benz and Sons Whiskey Distillers and Jobbers in Minneapolis – St. Paul, MN.   The image of Uncle Sam pouring himself a glass of whiskey makes me pause, when I think of all of the Uncle Sam related images which were used on whiskey advertising in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.    This particular image is as bold as any I have seen to date.   I find it ironic that “Uncle Sam” a.k.a. the United States Government shut down the whiskey manufacturers just a few short years after this sign was made when Prohibition was approved in 1918.   Is it possible the companies were using the patriotic symbol in the hopes the government would not shut them down?   The Temperance Movement was in full effect for many years before official vote which resulted in Prohibition occurred.   I think this might indeed have been the reason so many of the Uncle Sam images were used at that time.

The George Benz and Sons Company was established in 1865 with Major C. J. Becht, who later died in 1878, leaving the business to Mr. Benz as the sole owner.    The company became a significant presence in the MSP area as they later expanded to Duluth and had an office in Louisville, KY also called the Eminence Distillery Company when he purchased it from Fible and Crabb.  Unfortunately the start of Prohibition ended the enterprise for the Benz family.   Some of the brands the company made were Aurora Rock and Rye, Doctor’s Special, Hiawatha, Jack Silver, Old Blue Ribbon, Oldays, Pickwick, Uncle Sam’s Monogram, Dellwood, and Sundown Girl.