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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Liquor labels you will never see again.

(Editor's note: This is a continuation of a story I wrote for Patch. Read the lead in here.)

Julius Wile and Sons, Inc. was well known importer of liquor, which was established in 1877. It remained in family hands until 1972 when it was sold to RJR Nabisco.
That’s almost 100 years of importing summed up in 2 sentences; let’s see if I can expand on that just a bit.

I believe that the little black spiral wire notebook that I found at a sale over the summer held these labels actually belong to Julius Wile's grandson, also Julius Wile, though not the “Third.”

The original founder (older Julius) came from the Alsace region in 1840 at the age of 14. He established the importing business at the age of 51 and he and his 5 sons ran the business.

The grandson, or the younger Julius, didn’t initially go into the family business, but instead studied aeronautical engineering and graduated in 1936. The depression era held little opportunity for an engineer and so he went into the family business.

If you can imagine a career where you travel the world looking for wine and liquor to import and distribute by visiting anxious and enthusiastic wineries, then I say you’d imagined a dam good life. My favorite saying is: “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Apparently there were no family members to continue the tradition or a family run business could likely not compete with large corporation, which led to the buy-out in 1972. Julius lived most of his senior life in Scarsdale, New York and shifted his career to the promotion of Bordeaux wines in America. He also taught at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) in Ithaca, NY for 30 years. Julius died in 2006 at the age of 91.

 While it was a fact that slaves were imported to Jamaica to work in the sugar cane fields and in the distilling of rum, I don't know if this image was the best choice for the label.

 In looking up some of the labels I found an interesting site where people document the abandon sites of business and manufacturing they have discovered. The Fountain Grove Winery has a very interesting story you can read more about here


  1. Wonderful. How much did you pay for this book of labels? As an antique liquor enthusiast this is a really great find. Lovely old labels (only thing better would be finding bottles of these with the liquor still inside). Cheers, -Eric

  2. Thanks Eric! Contact me and I can share more details of these labels. I would like your take on them as well.


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