Felton's New England Rum

Digger Odell Publications

I have an old bottle for which I would like an appraisal. the bottle is embossed "Felton's New England Rum, since 1819" Thanks Della S., Maine

This is an interesting bottle because on first glance, It looks old - shaped like a demi-john form, and even appears to have been made in the old fashion (lip looks tooled and not machine made) and has embossing (unusual on a newer bottle) but the two clues to the age are 1) the presence of the "Federal Law Forbids Sale or Reuse of This Bottle" and 2)the embossing on the base which gives us a Patent Office Design Number showing the bottle was designed in 1935 (immediately after prohibition ended). The bottle was made in three sizes and the label identified it as "Pilgrim Rum" The original patent is shown below. Value would be $45-50. Digger



Felton's New England Rum The oldest manufacturing plant in South Boston is that of Felton & Son, distillers, at the corner of Fifth, C and Gold streets. The buildings of the concern are certainly landmarks of South Boston, with a history covering nearly three quarters of a century. The story of the concern, since the distillery was built in 1839, is very interesting. It was in this year that Luther Felton constructed the first building of this now well-known business. It was but a portion of the present plant, but it answered for the demand at that time. In the following year Mr. Felton commenced the manufacture of rum, the brand of which has become well known, and the demand for it has of course increased, so that the original building, which was one 

story high, long ago ceased to be large enough. The passing of years found material increase in the business until now the buildings and the land used occupy the block bound by Fifth, Gold, C and D streets, with the exception of a part on D street, now occupied by the Norcross school, and which was sold by Mr. Felton to the City of Boston for that purpose.

Luther Felton, the pioneer manufacturer, was born in Marlboro in 1790, where his father was also born. His grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather were all born in Salem, Mass., while his great-great-great grandfather came over from England in 1633 and settled in that old town, making the Felton family one of the oldest families in the country. Mr. Luther Felton moved to Boston from Marlboro in 1811, where he at once entered the employ of one of the well-known distillers of the day and thoroughly learned the business.

About 1824 he started in business for himself, renting a distillery on Washington street, about where Asylum street now connects with it, but being unable to purchase this, a few years later, he built, as before stated, the South Boston plant. In 1845 he purchased as a residence the house at the northeast corner of Broadway and G street, which was then in process of erection, and which he occupied until his decease in 1868.

At one time he owned several large tracts of land in South Boston including that on Broadway, which is the site of the old Mather school, and planted many of the large elm trees which to-day grace the streets of South Boston with their majestic arms. His son, Luther H. Felton, was born in Boston in 1821, his education being obtained in the Boston public schools of that day, and he became associated in the distillery business with his father in 1844. He was for many years a resident of Old Harbor street, near Dorchester street, from whence he removed to West Newton in 1867, where he resided until his decease in 1896. During his business career the distillery was much enlarged to meet the growing business, notably in 1854, which was caused by a large demand for New England rum for use in the Crimean War. Frederic Luther Felton, who now conducts the business under the old firm name of Felton & Son, was born in this district in 1848. He first saw the light of day in the old brick house on Fourth street near F, occupied at that time by his maternal grandfather, the late Josiah Withington. His education was acquired in Miss Burrill's famous old private school, which then stood where the Unitarian church now stands on Broadway, and in the old Hawes, Lincoln and Bigelow schools, which was supplemented by a course in the Wesleyan Academy at Wilbraham, Mass. 

 He entered the distillery business with his father in 1867, becoming a partner in 1873. Since the death of his estimable father he has conducted the business alone. For several years Mr. Felton has been a resident of West Newton, although still retaining his membership in several South Boston Masonic bodies. The business of this time-honored concern has increased with years and has improved with age like its noted product, and its goods have a reputation which is not confined to the borders of this country. Being unsurpassed in quality it has found a ready sale at home and abroad. In 1881 Felton & Son were awarded a medal by the Massachusetts charitable association as an evidence of the superiority of its goods. Although Mr. Felton resides in Newton, he still has a native interest in the welfare of this district, and is proud to have his name associated with the many honorable ones, who have, most of them, emigrated from time to time from one of the finest locations of any portion of Boston for residential purposes. From: The Illustrated History of South Boston, South Boston Inquirer Publ. Co. 1900

The lettering for the back of the bottle was then decided upon. "Felton's New England Rum, Since 1819" was set up in neat appropriate lettering and in proportion to each of the three sizes. In connection with the shape of the new bottle design it was found that distinctive label shape could be used which fitted each bottle. American Management association 1936.