For sale is an antique silver plated small julep or toddy strainer that is marked “N. F. Nickel Silver Co.” The name “N. F. Nickel Silver Co.” was trademarked by Oneida Community of Niagara Falls, NY in 1886. The front of the handle is marked “Old Harper Whisky”. This strainer measures only 4 and 1/4ths inches in length and the bowl measures approximately 1 and 15/16ths inches wide.
A small size julep strainer was included in the 1886-87 Meriden Britannia catalog. Although identified as a small julep strainer within that catalog, I suspect that these small size strainers might have been used as toddy strainers.
The photo shows this strainer with a background of an I. W. Harper Whiskey ad that mentions both toddies and juleps. This ad reads “When the Chill Gets in Your Bones…When you shiver and feel clammy all over – nothing will warm you up – fill you with the glow of comfort – as quickly as a delicious Hot Toddy made with Good Old I. W. Harper Whiskey. ….There’s a soft, delicious mellowness that you will never forget. But you don’t have to be cold – any time you want a toddy or a julep or anything the needs good whiskey, make that whiskey “Harpers” and you get the best.”
I know these Harper strainers were made in both the normal julep strainer size as well as this small size. Perhaps they were given as souvenirs at the 1893 Columbian Exposition where Bernheim Bros., manufacturer of the Harper brand, had an exhibit.
The name “I. W. Harper” was trademarked in 1905 by Bernheim Distilling Co., Louisville, KY. I believe that the usage of “Old Harper Whisky” predates that. The spelling of “Whisky” was changed to “Whiskey” somewhere around the turn of the century.
To read more, please see this blog post: http://queenofsienna.wordpress.com/2014/02/23/the-old-harper-whisky-toddy-strainer/
Also, please see my blog post “The Victorian Bar” to read more about cocktail strainers in general:
This strainer has been well used over the years. There are some scratches on the back of the handle and a little plate loss along the edge of the handle. It could use a polishing…if you like that bright shiney look. Otherwise, you can just leave it as it is…a well used antique cocktail strainer. NOTE WELL: This is a small strainer and not the normal julep strainer size.
Please see my Etsy listing for this strainer if you are interested: https://www.etsy.com/listing/180295006/old-harper-whisky-silver-plate-small