National Prohibition Act, more familiarly known as the Volstead Act,
was passed into law in 1919. Prohibition
beginning January 17, 1920, at which time the
manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol within the US became
illegal. Although the Eighteenth Amendment was repealed and
Prohibition ended thirteen years later (December 5, 1933), enforcement
of the Volstead Act brought an abrupt halt to a vast industry
involved hundreds of thousands of individuals.
In the years leading up to Prohibition (the pre-Prohibition or pre-Pro era), saloons were to be found on every street corner, liquor houses were as common as drug stores, and mail carriers delivered cases of whiskey in plain brown wrappers to homes across the US.
Supporters of Prohibition systematically destroyed anything connected with the liquor industry when the Amendment went into effect, while families of the dealers and saloon owners often smashed bottles and burned any papers out of shame or fear of retribution. Thus, even though the industry was massive, surprisingly little evidence of its players or business activities has survived to modern times.
This website is a repository for information about the pre-pro liquor industry, including names and dates of operation of the old distilleries, the dealers who sold liquor, and the often colorful names of whiskey brands that were popular in the day.
The site also showcases the rich variety and artistry of advertising from this period. The fragile shot glasses shown at right were given away to customers as a way of promoting a brand or brand owner. Each is a small work of art, the product of a skilled glass designer and engraver. Today, these glasses are prized collectibles that can command thousands of dollars or, in the case the more common ones, $10 or less.
Please consult the Site Map or the links at the bottom of this page if you wish to learn more about their history and origins.
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