See below an interesting Letter to the Editor in regards to a circular advertisement making the rounds in Boston, 1858. Fortunately, it is not a rant against bourbon but a rant in regards to what constituted truthful advertising that nature of how we know what we think we know:
STATE ASSAYERS AGAIN
Quis custodiet custodes ipsos*
During the past week or two a firm in this city has been distributing a new circular setting forth the purity of “Copper Distilled Pure Old Bourbon Whiskey.” As they “beg leave to call your attention to its claims and also ask you to judge, personally, of its merits,” of course you will do so when they send you a dozen. This circular, in the regular style of all quack advertisements, expresses the delicacy of the proprietors “in resorting to any of the usual modes of announcement as they have heralded indiscriminately the good, the bad, and the indifferent.” Notwithstanding this unwillingness to register their “Copper Distilled Pure Old Bourbon Whiskey” among the quack medicines, the proprietors proceed to perpetrate that outrage upon Picken & Co.’s copper distilled &c. This Journal has shown the fallacy of believing in the certificates of State Assayers’ [examiners of ores and metals, that is]analysis of such articles, unless each bottle is tested, this firm must attach to their circulars the very certificates of the very men.
Now, in our view, if the reputation of any firm is not of itself sufficient to warrant the goodness and purity of any article they may sell upon their own statement, the certificates of all the assayers in Christendom would not save them, whether the article sold be Antiphlogistic Salt or Copper Distilled Pure Old Bourbon Whiskey.
This circular is a very queer one and contains numerous certifications. First, Messrs Weeks & Potter “pledge their personal credit to support the character of the whiskey.” Secondly, one assayer of ores and metals certifies to the character of a sample sent to him by Weeks & Potter. Thirdly, another assayer of ores and metals certifies to the character of a sample of whiskey sent to him. Both these gentlemen regard their particular samples as Bourbon Whiskey; but neither of them certify that they are what the circular states, and what whiskey drinkers are very desirous of knowing, that they are samples of Copper Distilled Pure Old Bourbon Whiskey. A link in the chain appears to be wanting. Were those samples of the “Copper Distilled?” That is all that the public wants to know, and we supposed that the assayers of ores and metals would give us the analysis not of the whiskey, but of the still. Unfortunate omission. Did the proprietors not remember that: “Whatever link you strike/ Tenth or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike.”
However, to make up for this they give us a fifth certificate, signed by nine M.D.’s as if “confidence in the above statements of Drs. Jackson and Hayes” would give us confidence in the still, which they do not appear to have assayed.
Well, well, well. This reminds us of a story which was told, we believe of John Randolph, but of someone, at any rate. Two gentlemen, both unacquainted with the Virginian, agreed to acquainted, become and that one should introduce the other. The operation was somewhat in the following style. “Mr. Randolph, I wish to introduce to you my friend, Mr. -----. Mr. -----, Mr. Randolph.” “Ah, Mr. ----, I am very happy to make your acquaintance - but - who devil introduced you, Sir?”
Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, Volume 57
*Who watches the watchmen