Hires To You headerThe Illustrated History of Hires Root Beer

1890 

IT HAPPENED IN…1890

Typical education consisted of grammar school and one or two years of high school. 

Congress added the states of Wyoming and Idaho, and also created Oklahoma Territory.

A lack of safety regulations resulted in almost 10,000 Americans dying due to railroad accidents.

Seventh Cavalry troops killed 300 Sioux men, women, and children at the Battle of Wounded Knee. 

The J. Ottmann Lithography Company in New York City supplied this stock trade card.  The front is marked “PUBLISHED & COPYRIGHT 1890 BY CHAS. E. HIRES. PHILADELPHIA,, PA.”

 (Figure 1890-01, “It Cured My Cold!” trade card, front, 3.0” x 5.0”)

 (Figure 1890-01, “It Cured My Cold!” trade card, back, 3.0” x 5.0”)

The image of a young girl pictured on the front of the “It Cured My Cold!” trade card was reused for this die-cut, cardboard sign.  There’s no easel on the back, and no pre-punched hole to facilitate wall hanging, so it isn’t known how the sign was used.  The lack of printed publishing details or advertising other than the Hires’ Cough Syrup carton the girl is holding raises the possibility the sign may be either a fantasy or fake item.

(Figure 1890-02, die-cut, cardboard sign, 12.5”)

During 1890 Hires expanded his marketing approach to include the use of penny postcards.  This example was mailed to a Morganville, New York resident, most likely by a local druggist or storekeeper in an effort to drum up additional business.

(Figure 1890-03, penny postcard, front, 3.0” x 5.0”)

(Figure 1890-03, penny postcard, back, 3.0” x 5.0”)

(Figure 1890-04, Hires Cough Cure bottle)

This item appears to have been the lid for a cardboard mailing tube used to ship Hires’ Improved Root Beer Extract to those requesting sample bottles via mail.

(Figure 1890-05, cardboard mailing tube lid)

The J. Ottmann Lithographing Company produced this 5.5" x 3.5" trade card entitled “WHAT! NEVER TASTED HIRES’ ROOT BEER?  YOU’VE MISSED A TREAT.  WE KEEP IT HERE.”  The young girl pictured is holding a Hires’ Improved Root Beer package in her right hand, while her left hand holds a saucer and a full glass of root beer with a foamy head on it.  The back also reminded readers “If you have a cough or cold take HIRES’ COUGH CURE.” 

(Figure 1890-06, “What?  Never tasted Hires Root Beer?” trade card, front)

(Figure 1890-06, “What?  Never tasted Hires Root Beer?” trade card, back)

The J. Ottmann Lithographing Company reused the young girl’s image when preparing this beautiful paper, folding fan advertising both Hires’ Improved Root Beer and Hires’ Cough Cure.  It measures 8.0” x 14.0” when fully opened.  The advertising copy on the back reads “HIRE’S ROOT BEER PACKAGE makes five gallons of a delicious sparkling temperance beverage.  The best blood purifier and tonic in the world.  SOLD EVERWHERE.”

(Figure 1890-07, paper folding fan, front, 8.0” x 14.0”)

(Figure 1890-07, paper folding fan, back, 8.0” x 14.0”)

This “HOLD TO THE LIGHT” trade card was also produced by the J. Ottmann Lithography Company.  Shining a light thru the card from the back causes the sleeping girl’s eyes appear to open, a Hires’ Cough Cure carton to materialize and, not surprisingly, this advertising copy emerges: “HOW LOVELY I FEEL THIS MORNING AFTER TAKING HIRES’ COUGH CURE.” 

(Figure 1890-08, “Hold to the light’ trade card, front)

(Figure 1890-08, “Hold to the light’ trade card, back)

For the second consecutive year, one of Hires’ mid-year giveaway items was a pocket-sized, bound memo pad that included a July 1890 – June 1891 calendar. 

(Figure 1890-09, memo pad, front cover, 4.25” x 2.375”)

(Figure 1890-09, memo pad, inside front cover)

(Figure 1890-09, memo pad, calendar on back of memo pad)

(Figure 1890-09, memo pad, inside back cover)

The engraved brass plate affixed directly below the beveled mirror on the front of this oak cooler and dispenser reads IMPROVED FOUNTAIN HIRES ROOT BEER.  The unit features considerable detail including lathe-turned carvings.

(Figure 1890-10, oak cooler and dispenser, front, 26.0” x 31.0” x 35.0”)

Hires continued to advertise in the most popular magazines with nationwide distribution.

(Figure 1890-11, Ladies’ Home Journal, August 1890)

Charles E. Hires penned this three page letter to a friend August 18, 1890:

(Figure 1890-12, Charles E. Hires personal letter August 18, 1890, page 1 of 3)

(Figure 1890-12, Charles E. Hires personal letter August 18, 1890, page 2 of 3)

(Figure 1890-12, Charles E. Hires personal letter August 18, 1890, page 3 of 3)

(Figure 1890-14, C. E. Hires business card with facsimile signature, 3.25” x 1.75”)

(Figure 1890-15, Charles E. Hires’ stock business card, 3.25” x 1.75”)

(Figure 1890-16, envelope mailed by Charles E. Hires October 17, 1890)

Charles E. Hires sent this letter to his brother, George, on October 17, 1890

(Figure 1890-17, Charles E. Hires personal letter October 17, 1890, page 1 of 2)

(Figure 1890-17, Charles E. Hires personal letter October 17, 1890, page 2 of 2)

Charles E. Hires sent this letter to a friend on December 24, 1890:

(Figure 1890-18, Charles E. Hires personal letter December 24, 1890, page 1 of 4)

(Figure 1890-18, Charles E. Hires personal letter December 24, 1890, page 2 of 4)

(Figure 1890-18, Charles E. Hires personal letter December 24, 1890, page 3 of 4)

(Figure 1890-18, Charles E. Hires personal letter December 24, 1890, page 4 of 4)

Charles E. Hires Company sales for 1890 were listed as 1,298,000 bottles.  Hires’ 1891 pocket calendar elaborated on 1890’s sales, specifying “REMEMBER HIRES’ ROOT BEER has now reached the largest sale of any temperance drink in the world.  6,480,000 gallons drank last year.  Equal to 32,540,000 quart Champagne bottles.”