One of the rarest 17th century artifacts in our collection is this Dutch onion-shaped, blown deep-green glass rum bottle.
Besides being very old, this bottle is inscribed on the top of its shoulder, “James Loper 1681, July 12”. (Dated and signed by its East Hampton owner!)
Captain Jacob Loper was born in the Netherlands and had served in the West Indies under future Netherlands' director-general, Peter Stuyvesant. By 1646, He was in New Amsterdam with his wife and two children. That year, his son James came to East Hampton and set up one of the earliest whaling companies with his stepfather, Jacob Schellinger.
Though James is listed as a cordwainer (leather worker), he was also an active merchant who bought local horses and ferried them to the West Indies. His small vessels returned with barrels of rum, molasses, sugar, and hardwoods for local cabinetmakers.
This bottle was dug-up in 1872 on the Ocean Avenue property then owned by James Satterthwaite. In Jeannette Rattray’s "East Hampton History, Including Genealogies of Early Families." the author notes, “the location of the gin bottle is understandable from the fact that on May 11, 1673, James Loper was granted land “in Calf Pasture, next to Stephen Hedges. That was the very spot where the rum bottle was found.”
What stories this old rum bottle could spin.