I have a great interest in, and fondness for, antique bar tools. I’m always on the lookout for the rare liquor mixer, the unusual julep strainer and the hard to find cocktail shaker. So when I came across the following shaker, I had to take a second look.
The sterling silver shaker was monogrammed “C. J. M” under which was the date “December 8, 1928”. That immediately got my attention as this was during Prohibition. But that, in and of itself, is not that unusual. What really piqued my interest was the list of engraved signatures on the opposite side. (I’ve added the names to the right of the signatures as some might be difficult to decipher).
Those of you who follow my queenofsienna WordPress blog know I’m really “into” research. I want to dig and find the story behind an antique, assuming there is a story to be told. So I did a little research on the names engraved on this shaker. And I got lucky.
I picked “Culbert Palmer” first, as the name “Culbert” was distinctive and I thought I might have some success researching it. And, boy, did I! I found the following wedding announcement for Charles Jeremiah Mason, Jr. (C.J.M) to Polly Wallace, wedding date December 8, 1928. This article stated that J. Culbert Palmer was a groomsman (usher) at that wedding as were all the other signatories on the strainer with the exception of J. Murray Mitchell. This grouping of friends gave this strainer to Charles as a wedding gift.
So now I was hooked; who was Charles Jeremiah Mason, Jr. and who were his friends?
Since I had success with J. Culbert Palmer, I thought I’d investigate further. And what did I find? I found an obituary for Katharine Post Palmer Mason who had been married to both Charles Jeremiah Mason, Jr. as well as J. Culbert Palmer. What????
Researching further, I found J. Culbert’s and Katharine’s wedding announcement. Note that Charles was an usher at Culbert’s wedding.
Then I found that Polly Wallace Mason had died in April of 1975. And J. Culbert Palmer had died in 1972. And so, widow and widower, who had been friends for many decades, married. What a lovely story!
Looking at the other names on the shaker, I started at the top: John K.Starkweather and found that he was an investment banker, Governor of the New York Stock Exchange and Mayor of Scarsdale. This is his obituary:
Frederic W. Wallace was Polly’s brother.
John T. Bradlee was a prominent attorney and founder of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
John G. Winchester graduated from Harvard and became a well known banker.
J. Murray Mitchell, who was not in the wedding party, had been a banker, former assistant secretary general of NATO, served on the staff of the National Security Council and Colonel in the U.S. Army.
And that leaves Otis Barton, who was a deep sea diver, actor and inventor of the bathosphere. This is his Wikipedia page:
Charles Jeremiah Mason, Jr. was a graduate of Harvard, banker and officer of the Brooklyn Trust Company. The following came from a website regarding the Brooklyn Trust Co.:
And now this thoughtful and touching gift to Charles J. Mason from his friends has found its way to eBay. This is the listing:
I hate to think this will be sold to someone for scrap. It certainly has a story to tell.