Embossed Flask from Notorious 19th C. NYC Slum Lord Edward Rafter

UnderMiner

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20220909_195145.jpg

I found this hand-tooled flask yesterday evening. It is embossed with a circle slug plate that reads: "Edward Rafter Importer New York City". I would have posted this right away but I ended up doing some research and it bassically opened a whole historical can of worms that delayed me. Anyway this is the story of how this bottle came to be and the 19th century slum lord responsible for it:

Edward Rafter was a grocer and property owner. He started business in Manhattan in 1863 (same year as the NYC draft riots) and by 1888 owned eight tenement buildings and several retail grocery stores.

When investigators checked his building on 343 and 345 East 11th Street, they found that the resident baker used water from the basement sink to make his bread, while the resident fish monger washed his fish in the sink, and the 16 families who lived in the building above the two shops “used the sink as a urinal.”

Threatened with legal action, Rafter said that correcting the problem was impossible. “What steps can I take?” he asked. “It is a very hard matter to take charge of all the tenants in the house.”

By 1903 Rafter had leased building 630-632 Hudson Street and used it as a liquor and grocery warehouse:
past06.jpg


It's a bit difficult to discern but if you look closely you can see "Edward Rafter" written in white on the ground floor signage above the horse wagons. Also take notice of the words "Wholesale Grocers" painted above the second floor.

Despite the conditions in his tenements, the New-York Tribunehad nothing but praise for Rafter's provisions business.


EDWARD RAFTER FLASK.PNG

“Buying for all of his nine stores in quantity at wholesale, and selling cheaply, his goods go quickly, and are therefore always fresh. In his great storehouse at No. 630 Hudson-st, New York City, these goods are gathered, and from it distributed to his several retail establishments." - New York Tribune August 2, 1903.

Rafter operated the building at 630-632 Hudson Street until 1908.

This is the same building as it appears today:
2016-08-24 20.49.57 (1).jpg


If we look closer we can see Edward Rafter painted signs still vaguely visible, notice the word "Wholesale":
20220909_201732.jpg
Keep in mind Rafter was neither the first nor last renter of this building (which was built in 1881) and it's been over 114 years since his departure from it.

Here is the bottle in situ, conveniently embossed-side up:
20220909_195100.jpg

20220909_195136.jpg

Since all of Edward Rafter's liquor and provisions were housed at the 630-632 Hudson Street location before being distributed to his other locations, we can safely bet that is where this bottle originated from. And since I found this bottle closer to Yonkers than in Manhattan we can guess this may be from the Yonkers No. 6 and 8 Broadway location which according to the Tribune opened around 1902.

This is not a complete history of Edward Rafter and for that I apologize, but it's a start, hope you enjoy.

-----------
I like to thank users 102viadeluna and driftwood from antiquebottles.com as well daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com, where most of this information was sourced from.
 
Upvote 31

dig deeper now

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View attachment 2045747
I found this hand-tooled flask yesterday evening. It is embossed with a circle slug plate that reads: "Edward Rafter Importer New York City". I would have posted this right away but I ended up doing some research and it bassically opened a whole historical can of worms that delayed me. Anyway this is the story of how this bottle came to be and the 19th century slum lord responsible for it:

Edward Rafter was a grocer and property owner. He started business in Manhattan in 1863 (same year as the NYC draft riots) and by 1888 owned eight tenement buildings and several retail grocery stores.

When investigators checked his building on 343 and 345 East 11th Street, they found that the resident baker used water from the basement sink to make his bread, while the resident fish monger washed his fish in the sink, and the 16 families who lived in the building above the two shops “used the sink as a urinal.”

Threatened with legal action, Rafter said that correcting the problem was impossible. “What steps can I take?” he asked. “It is a very hard matter to take charge of all the tenants in the house.”

By 1903 Rafter had leased building 630-632 Hudson Street and used it as a liquor and grocery warehouse:
View attachment 2045760

It's a bit difficult to discern but if you look closely you can see "Edward Rafter" written in white on the ground floor signage above the horse wagons. Also take notice of the words "Wholesale Grocers" painted above the second floor.

Despite the conditions in his tenements, the New-York Tribunehad nothing but praise for Rafter's provisions business.


View attachment 2045763
“Buying for all of his nine stores in quantity at wholesale, and selling cheaply, his goods go quickly, and are therefore always fresh. In his great storehouse at No. 630 Hudson-st, New York City, these goods are gathered, and from it distributed to his several retail establishments." - New York Tribune August 2, 1903.

Rafter operated the building at 630-632 Hudson Street until 1908.

This is the same building as it appears today:
View attachment 2045759

If we look closer we can see Edward Rafter painted signs still vaguely visible, notice the word "Wholesale": View attachment 2045758 Keep in mind Rafter was neither the first nor last renter of this building (which was built in 1881) and it's been over 114 years since his departure from it.

Here is the bottle in situ, conveniently embossed-side up: View attachment 2045746
View attachment 2045748
Since all of Edward Rafter's liquor and provisions were housed at the 630-632 Hudson Street location before being distributed to his other locations, we can safely bet that is where this bottle originated from. And since I found this bottle closer to Yonkers than in Manhattan we can guess this may be from the Yonkers No. 6 and 8 Broadway location which according to the Tribune opened around 1902.

This is not a complete history of Edward Rafter and for that I apologize, but it's a start, hope you enjoy.

-----------
I like to thank users 102viadeluna and driftwood from antiquebottles.com as well daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com, where most of this information was sourced from.
Very nice history lesson, building must have been cheap in 1863, and after.
 

BennyV

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Feb 22, 2021
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View attachment 2045747
I found this hand-tooled flask yesterday evening. It is embossed with a circle slug plate that reads: "Edward Rafter Importer New York City". I would have posted this right away but I ended up doing some research and it bassically opened a whole historical can of worms that delayed me. Anyway this is the story of how this bottle came to be and the 19th century slum lord responsible for it:

Edward Rafter was a grocer and property owner. He started business in Manhattan in 1863 (same year as the NYC draft riots) and by 1888 owned eight tenement buildings and several retail grocery stores.

When investigators checked his building on 343 and 345 East 11th Street, they found that the resident baker used water from the basement sink to make his bread, while the resident fish monger washed his fish in the sink, and the 16 families who lived in the building above the two shops “used the sink as a urinal.”

Threatened with legal action, Rafter said that correcting the problem was impossible. “What steps can I take?” he asked. “It is a very hard matter to take charge of all the tenants in the house.”

By 1903 Rafter had leased building 630-632 Hudson Street and used it as a liquor and grocery warehouse:
View attachment 2045760

It's a bit difficult to discern but if you look closely you can see "Edward Rafter" written in white on the ground floor signage above the horse wagons. Also take notice of the words "Wholesale Grocers" painted above the second floor.

Despite the conditions in his tenements, the New-York Tribunehad nothing but praise for Rafter's provisions business.


View attachment 2045763
“Buying for all of his nine stores in quantity at wholesale, and selling cheaply, his goods go quickly, and are therefore always fresh. In his great storehouse at No. 630 Hudson-st, New York City, these goods are gathered, and from it distributed to his several retail establishments." - New York Tribune August 2, 1903.

Rafter operated the building at 630-632 Hudson Street until 1908.

This is the same building as it appears today:
View attachment 2045759

If we look closer we can see Edward Rafter painted signs still vaguely visible, notice the word "Wholesale": View attachment 2045758 Keep in mind Rafter was neither the first nor last renter of this building (which was built in 1881) and it's been over 114 years since his departure from it.

Here is the bottle in situ, conveniently embossed-side up: View attachment 2045746
View attachment 2045748
Since all of Edward Rafter's liquor and provisions were housed at the 630-632 Hudson Street location before being distributed to his other locations, we can safely bet that is where this bottle originated from. And since I found this bottle closer to Yonkers than in Manhattan we can guess this may be from the Yonkers No. 6 and 8 Broadway location which according to the Tribune opened around 1902.

This is not a complete history of Edward Rafter and for that I apologize, but it's a start, hope you enjoy.

-----------
I like to thank users 102viadeluna and driftwood from antiquebottles.com as well daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com, where most of this information was sourced from.
Very nice! I live in Yonkers now.
 

Digger RJ

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View attachment 2045747
I found this hand-tooled flask yesterday evening. It is embossed with a circle slug plate that reads: "Edward Rafter Importer New York City". I would have posted this right away but I ended up doing some research and it bassically opened a whole historical can of worms that delayed me. Anyway this is the story of how this bottle came to be and the 19th century slum lord responsible for it:

Edward Rafter was a grocer and property owner. He started business in Manhattan in 1863 (same year as the NYC draft riots) and by 1888 owned eight tenement buildings and several retail grocery stores.

When investigators checked his building on 343 and 345 East 11th Street, they found that the resident baker used water from the basement sink to make his bread, while the resident fish monger washed his fish in the sink, and the 16 families who lived in the building above the two shops “used the sink as a urinal.”

Threatened with legal action, Rafter said that correcting the problem was impossible. “What steps can I take?” he asked. “It is a very hard matter to take charge of all the tenants in the house.”

By 1903 Rafter had leased building 630-632 Hudson Street and used it as a liquor and grocery warehouse:
View attachment 2045760

It's a bit difficult to discern but if you look closely you can see "Edward Rafter" written in white on the ground floor signage above the horse wagons. Also take notice of the words "Wholesale Grocers" painted above the second floor.

Despite the conditions in his tenements, the New-York Tribunehad nothing but praise for Rafter's provisions business.


View attachment 2045763
“Buying for all of his nine stores in quantity at wholesale, and selling cheaply, his goods go quickly, and are therefore always fresh. In his great storehouse at No. 630 Hudson-st, New York City, these goods are gathered, and from it distributed to his several retail establishments." - New York Tribune August 2, 1903.

Rafter operated the building at 630-632 Hudson Street until 1908.

This is the same building as it appears today:
View attachment 2045759

If we look closer we can see Edward Rafter painted signs still vaguely visible, notice the word "Wholesale": View attachment 2045758 Keep in mind Rafter was neither the first nor last renter of this building (which was built in 1881) and it's been over 114 years since his departure from it.

Here is the bottle in situ, conveniently embossed-side up: View attachment 2045746
View attachment 2045748
Since all of Edward Rafter's liquor and provisions were housed at the 630-632 Hudson Street location before being distributed to his other locations, we can safely bet that is where this bottle originated from. And since I found this bottle closer to Yonkers than in Manhattan we can guess this may be from the Yonkers No. 6 and 8 Broadway location which according to the Tribune opened around 1902.

This is not a complete history of Edward Rafter and for that I apologize, but it's a start, hope you enjoy.

-----------
I like to thank users 102viadeluna and driftwood from antiquebottles.com as well daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com, where most of this information was sourced from.
Very Cool!!! Congrats!!!
 
OP
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Here's a clearer image of the "Wholesale" ghost sign left over on the 630-632 Hudson Street location of Edward Rafter's former warehouse, 1903-1908, also notice the name of the building's original owner and construction date of 1881 craved in stone on the A-frame. You can also vaguely see the words "Importers Of" above the third floor windows:
2016-08-24 20.50.37.jpg

I also find it funny how the owners of the left side of the building only cleaned their half of the roof's stonework. Also note the left side is displaying the original brick facade while the right side's bricks are painted red. So the rest of the Rafter painted signs are probably under there still.
 
Last edited:

Coinstar magnet

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View attachment 2045747
I found this hand-tooled flask yesterday evening. It is embossed with a circle slug plate that reads: "Edward Rafter Importer New York City". I would have posted this right away but I ended up doing some research and it bassically opened a whole historical can of worms that delayed me. Anyway this is the story of how this bottle came to be and the 19th century slum lord responsible for it:

Edward Rafter was a grocer and property owner. He started business in Manhattan in 1863 (same year as the NYC draft riots) and by 1888 owned eight tenement buildings and several retail grocery stores.

When investigators checked his building on 343 and 345 East 11th Street, they found that the resident baker used water from the basement sink to make his bread, while the resident fish monger washed his fish in the sink, and the 16 families who lived in the building above the two shops “used the sink as a urinal.”

Threatened with legal action, Rafter said that correcting the problem was impossible. “What steps can I take?” he asked. “It is a very hard matter to take charge of all the tenants in the house.”

By 1903 Rafter had leased building 630-632 Hudson Street and used it as a liquor and grocery warehouse:
View attachment 2045760

It's a bit difficult to discern but if you look closely you can see "Edward Rafter" written in white on the ground floor signage above the horse wagons. Also take notice of the words "Wholesale Grocers" painted above the second floor.

Despite the conditions in his tenements, the New-York Tribunehad nothing but praise for Rafter's provisions business.


View attachment 2045763
“Buying for all of his nine stores in quantity at wholesale, and selling cheaply, his goods go quickly, and are therefore always fresh. In his great storehouse at No. 630 Hudson-st, New York City, these goods are gathered, and from it distributed to his several retail establishments." - New York Tribune August 2, 1903.

Rafter operated the building at 630-632 Hudson Street until 1908.

This is the same building as it appears today:
View attachment 2045759

If we look closer we can see Edward Rafter painted signs still vaguely visible, notice the word "Wholesale": View attachment 2045758 Keep in mind Rafter was neither the first nor last renter of this building (which was built in 1881) and it's been over 114 years since his departure from it.

Here is the bottle in situ, conveniently embossed-side up: View attachment 2045746
View attachment 2045748
Since all of Edward Rafter's liquor and provisions were housed at the 630-632 Hudson Street location before being distributed to his other locations, we can safely bet that is where this bottle originated from. And since I found this bottle closer to Yonkers than in Manhattan we can guess this may be from the Yonkers No. 6 and 8 Broadway location which according to the Tribune opened around 1902.

This is not a complete history of Edward Rafter and for that I apologize, but it's a start, hope you enjoy.

-----------
I like to thank users 102viadeluna and driftwood from antiquebottles.com as well daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com, where most of this information was sourced from.
Thank you for sharing this. A ripping good yarn!
 

Calabash Digger

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View attachment 2045747
I found this hand-tooled flask yesterday evening. It is embossed with a circle slug plate that reads: "Edward Rafter Importer New York City". I would have posted this right away but I ended up doing some research and it bassically opened a whole historical can of worms that delayed me. Anyway this is the story of how this bottle came to be and the 19th century slum lord responsible for it:

Edward Rafter was a grocer and property owner. He started business in Manhattan in 1863 (same year as the NYC draft riots) and by 1888 owned eight tenement buildings and several retail grocery stores.

When investigators checked his building on 343 and 345 East 11th Street, they found that the resident baker used water from the basement sink to make his bread, while the resident fish monger washed his fish in the sink, and the 16 families who lived in the building above the two shops “used the sink as a urinal.”

Threatened with legal action, Rafter said that correcting the problem was impossible. “What steps can I take?” he asked. “It is a very hard matter to take charge of all the tenants in the house.”

By 1903 Rafter had leased building 630-632 Hudson Street and used it as a liquor and grocery warehouse:
View attachment 2045760

It's a bit difficult to discern but if you look closely you can see "Edward Rafter" written in white on the ground floor signage above the horse wagons. Also take notice of the words "Wholesale Grocers" painted above the second floor.

Despite the conditions in his tenements, the New-York Tribunehad nothing but praise for Rafter's provisions business.


View attachment 2045763
“Buying for all of his nine stores in quantity at wholesale, and selling cheaply, his goods go quickly, and are therefore always fresh. In his great storehouse at No. 630 Hudson-st, New York City, these goods are gathered, and from it distributed to his several retail establishments." - New York Tribune August 2, 1903.

Rafter operated the building at 630-632 Hudson Street until 1908.

This is the same building as it appears today:
View attachment 2045759

If we look closer we can see Edward Rafter painted signs still vaguely visible, notice the word "Wholesale": View attachment 2045758 Keep in mind Rafter was neither the first nor last renter of this building (which was built in 1881) and it's been over 114 years since his departure from it.

Here is the bottle in situ, conveniently embossed-side up: View attachment 2045746
View attachment 2045748
Since all of Edward Rafter's liquor and provisions were housed at the 630-632 Hudson Street location before being distributed to his other locations, we can safely bet that is where this bottle originated from. And since I found this bottle closer to Yonkers than in Manhattan we can guess this may be from the Yonkers No. 6 and 8 Broadway location which according to the Tribune opened around 1902.

This is not a complete history of Edward Rafter and for that I apologize, but it's a start, hope you enjoy.

-----------
I like to thank users 102viadeluna and driftwood from antiquebottles.com as well daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com, where most of this information was sourced from.
NICE!
 

Lenrac2

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Nice find and loved learning the history behind it! Well done!
 
OP
UnderMiner

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Thanks for taking the time to put that together. Enjoyable read. Appears to be straw colored glass or is that stains from being buried?
Weird to find it sitting on top of the ground in that muck. Was it previously under water?
It's a clear glass bottle, but I found it embedded in silt/mud which left a thin yellow film on the inside that I was able to clean off later. It was normally under water but I was in the area when the water levels were lower so it was exposed.
 

Tesorodeoro

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It's a clear glass bottle, but I found it embedded in silt/mud which left a thin yellow film on the inside that I was able to clean off later. It was normally under water but I was in the area when the water levels were lower so it was exposed.
Great luck for you!
 

dig deeper now

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Thanks for the history lesson it was very interesting.
I love old bottles and marbles.
"Is that weird for a grown man to say?"
Don"t we like to be a grownup KID. I am one there are many more of us. HAPPY HUNTING
 

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