Ancient Greek and Roman first used spigots in their bathhouses for obtaining water from aqueducts, routing it into pipes and buildings, and finally into their tubs or baths. The spigots (also identified as faucets or taps) in the Wine History Project collection include twelve different objects that are either made of wood or metal and were used in wine, beer or spirits casks/barrels. We identify them from being actively utilized during 1860-1910.

A spigot is a device that controls the flow of liquid from a large container, or at least that it is how it is defined in a dictionary. This wasn’t a new concept as mentioned earlier. The Greeks and Romans created their use in plumbing. But, when researching on the internet under patents for spigots and faucets there were many applications by different people, for this function beginning in 1879 through 1911 in the United States.

It would not be a surprise that this was also true in the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, and many other countries. In the United States, lesser-known names like Fitch, Long, Schofield, Anthony, Stelck, Davey, Polle, Gruber, Byrne, and Wesson are noted. But if looking for “antique” wood spigots on Etsy or eBay, more often than not Redlich or Sommer is identified on a worn label on the object for sale.

Redlich Manufacturing Company made bottle corkers, spigots, and many other items for the liquor business. Usually, the paper label attached to the faucet stated: “Redlich’s Warranted Faucets Fully Saturated with India Rubber H. Redlich, Chicago.”

Redlich was established in 1858 in Chicago, Illinois. By 1887, the company was in business as liquor dealers. By 1902 they were in the bung and cork business and sold shavings and chips for use in clarifying. By 1905 they had reinvented themselves manufacturing bottlers’ supplies in their marketing information. They also made bottle corkers in Chicago as Redlich MFG Company.

From the International Exhibition publication, 1876, Volume 5 by the United States Centennial Commission.  

According to Hendricks’ Commercial Register of the United States in 1909, Redlich Manufacturing Co. was located at 2 Oak Street in Chicago. The Register states that Redlich’s wooden faucets were commended for two reasons: one, the absence of corrosion and oxidation, and two, the complete saturation with India rubber, which filled thoroughly and permanently the pores of wood and cork.
Left: From the Wine History Project collection. Right: Example of placement of the label on 1887 spigot.
Part of the “label” is worn off on the object on the left. But, there is no doubt that this is a John Sommer Faucet Company spigot.

From what the Wine History Project can find, the first patent for a faucet for barrels by John Sommer, Jr. was applied for on July 22, 1887, and in use since 1885. The faucet was described as “a rectangular figure having at one end representations of the obverse and reverse of a medal or medals overlapping each other and printed descriptive matter referring to the goods at the other end.”

The John Sommer Faucet Company was incorporated at Newark, New Jersey in 1908, to manufacture wooden faucets and specialties in woodenware. The capital stock was $50,000 and the incorporators were John Sommer, Sr., John Sommer, Jr., and Elizabeth Sommer.

Wood Spigots and Taps

Generally, wooden spigots are made with natural wood and cork and the handle turns. They can leak or fail if not well-maintained. The cork insert should be inspected regularly to make sure it does not dry out or wear down during use. Wood taps, spouts, or spigots were used for wine barrels, wooden kegs, and oak casks.

William Frankfurth Hardware Company of West Water Street Frontage in Milwaukee, Wisconsin were “Jobbers and Importers of Hardware” beginning in 1861, incorporating in 1885. The information the company gathered into a general catalog was very helpful in assisting us to locate details on wooden faucets. According to Frankfurth’s General Catalog No. 5 from the year 1917 wooden faucets were sized by a numbering system. As an example, Redlich’s Faucets had a variety of sizes and we are including the cost per dozen. As mentioned, their wooden faucets were cork-lined and fully saturated with India Rubber.

No. Size Cost per dozen
1 7 inches $1.00
2 8 inches $1.25
3 8.5 inches $1.50
4 9 inches $1.75
5 10.5 inches $2.00
6 11.5 inches $2.25



Date: circa 1880-1890

Origin: Italy or United States

Materials: wood

Object ID: WPH-S&T51

According to the provenance for this spigot, it was obtained at the Pagani Brothers Winery.

The Pagani Brothers Winery was situated on land that was once part of the 18,883-acre Rancho Los Guilicos granted to Juan (John) Wilson by the Mexican government in 1837. Wilson, a Scottish sea captain, was married to the widow Ramona Carrillo Pacheco, a member of the prestigious San Diego Carrillo family, which had close ties to General Mariano Vallejo, the Mexican comisionado in charge of founding the Pueblo of Sonoma. The Wilsons held land grants in other parts of California including San Luis Obispo County and never lived at Los Guilicos. Amedeo Pagani bought the property in 1905, and in 1906 established the Pagani Brothers Winery.

Amedeo and John (Giovanni) Pagani immigrated to the United States from Fenegro, Italy. Amedeo arrived in 1889 and John in 1892 (U.S. Department of Commerce and Labor 1908; U.S. Bureau of Census [USBC] 1900). Early in the 20th century, the brothers lived with cousins in Glen Ellen. After Amedeo acquired the Kenwood property, the brothers resided on it jointly with John renting from Amedeo (USBC 1910, 1920). Theirs was among the first Sonoma Valley wineries (Lynch 1997), and like others they were hit hard by prohibition. During the “dry” years between 1920 and 1933, the family continued to farm though no records were found indicating what they were growing. Their 44-acre property was assessed at $4,710 in 1922 (Farmers Directory Company 1922). Amedeo died in 1927 and John in 1933, the year prohibition ended. John’s son Julius continued operation of the winery for another 35 years after their deaths. With Julius’s death in 1969, the Pagani Brothers Winery was sold to John Sheela, and Mike and Marty Lee.

The new owners changed the name to Kenwood Winery and transformed the nature of the operation. While the Pagani’s ran the winery, their wine was sold in bulk for blending with other wines and could be purchased by the bottle at the winery (Practical Winery & Vineyard 1988). The Pagani’s “jug wine” establishment was transformed by Sheela and the Lee brothers who increased the winery’s output significantly. To accommodate the change, several new buildings were constructed. Their wine was sold under their own label, and Kenwood Vineyards became internationally known. In 1996, the Korbel Brothers acquired a 50 percent stake in the property, and by 1999 they owned the whole of the business. Pernod Ricard purchased Kenwood Vineyards in 2014. Read more at the County of Sonoma historic resources.


Date: circa 1870-1880

Origin: United States

Materials: red cedar, iron

Object ID: WPH-S&T54

The Iron Age periodical was originally published weekly every Thursday by the David Williams Company at 239 West 39th Street in New York beginning in late 1867. It started out as a large newspaper sheet periodical reporting on the iron age, iron industry, and hardware.

Appearing on page 63 within The Iron Age on September 15, 1904, is a listing of faucets produced by John Sommer Company that included: cork lines, metallic and leather lined, red cedar, and petroleum faucets, metal key, Star, and West lock. John Sommer’s different “models” were: Peerless Tin Key for 40 cents, Boss Tin Key for 50 cents, Victor Metal Key for 50 cents, Duplex Metal Key for 60 cents, Diamond Lock for 40 cents, L, X, L. Cork Lined for 50 cents, Reliable Cork Lined for 50 cents, Chicago Cork Lined for 60 cents, O.K. Cork Lined for 50 cents, No Brand, Cedar for 50 cents, and Perfection Cedar for 40 cents.

John Sommer’s Perfection Red Cedar Faucets were advertised as first quality, warranted, and finely finished. They were made out of the best selected Florida Red Cedar. Only the genuine were stamped in the wood, with the trademark – MALTESE CROSS. John Sommer Faucet Company was located at 355-365 Central Avenue in Newark, New Jersey. The one in the Wine History Project collection does not appear to have a stamped trademark, but it fits this description perfectly.

About Aromatic Red Cedar: Color/Appearance: Heartwood tends to be reddish or violet-brown. The fine-grained, soft brittle pinkish-to brownish-red heartwood is fragrant, very light, and very durable. The aromatic wood is avoided by moths. Juniper oil is distilled from the wood, twigs, and leaves. As a tidbit of unrelated information, the cones of the Red Cedar tree are used to flavor gin.

The following group demonstrates the sameness, yet the differences in the design of wooden spigots.


Date: circa 1900

Origin: United States

Materials: fruit wood, cork

Object ID: WPH-S&T55


Date: circa 1900-1910

Origin: United States

Materials: wood

Object ID: WPH-S&T56


Date: circa 1898-1910

Origin: United States

Materials: fruitwood, zonc

Object ID: WPH-S&T103C

Description:The tap from the Wine History Project collection is two pieces and made of wood and metal. The tap is all wood while the handle is both zinc metal and wood. The piece is stamped on either side with John Sommer’s Best “Peerless” No. ?. The wood has a beautifully worn look to it.


Date: circa 1900-1910

Origin: United States

Materials: wood

Object ID: WPH-S&T104

Description: Size #3 according to the William Frankfurth Catalog 5 chart mentioned earlier in this article.


Date: circa 1900-1910

Origin: United States

Materials: wood

Object ID: WPH-S&T105

Description: Size #2 according to the William Frankfurth Catalog 5 chart.

Metal Spigots, Taps, and Spouts

Brass, bronze, metal, copper, and stainless-steel wine spouts and spigots are in a range of small, medium and larger sized taper threaded for wooden wine barrels, kegs, and casks. The small and medium-sized brass taper threaded taps, spouts and spigots are ideal to be fitted to small, medium, and larger wooden barrels and apothecary glass, porcelain, and ceramic jars.

They were used for wine, olive and vinegar oils, whiskey, beer, cider, juices; both storing and dispensing these liquids.


Date: circa 1860-1880

Origin: United States

Materials: copper

Object ID: WPH-S&T37

There is a nice patina on this spigot found in the San Francisco area. The spigot has no markings and we have no provenance information about its history.

In London, England in the late nineteenth century, there were wine and spirit merchants who published a catalog. The company was known as Farrow & Jackson. Farrow and Jackson was a London engineering, manufacturing, and distribution company supplying equipment and merchandise to the wines, spirits and aerated beverages trades for more than a century.

The firm’s founder was Benjamin Baldry Barrow (1774-1844) who was known to be a tinplate-worker in London, and he married Mary Algar in September 1798. He was known for the manufacture of iron wine bins. Benjamin and Mary had eight children. Their last child, Charles was born in 1815 and took over the business when his father died. Charles Farrow’s trade was described as an ironmonger, wine bin and wine coopers’ toolmaker. In 1851 he took part in the Great Exhibition in London and his distribution business had branched out to include “Ironmonger, Smith, Brazier, Tinman, and Gas-Fitter; Manufacturer of Machines, Tools, and Utensils for the Wine and Spirit Trade.” Charles and his wife Ann Hinton (married 1846) had three children, including a son Charles (born 1848). Richard Brooker Jackson (born 1824) who was married to Anna Perkins in 1853 worked for Charles Farrow as an ironmonger. In an 1860 advertisement for wrought iron wine bins, Richard Jackson’s name is first seen in association with Charles Farrow as a firm. There is much more to the Farrow and Jackson story, but I won’t delve into it at this time.

After reviewing some of the pages in the Farrow and Jackson catalog, I would describe this screw-in type spigot as a copper taper, threaded tap with a hammer-shaped valve handle.


Date: circa 1880-1900

Origin: France

Materials: brass

Object ID: WPH-S&T59

We believe this to be a French brass barrel tap faucet with a key to be used for brandy or cognac since it is very small at 3 ½” H x 5”L. This old brass barrel tap is in fully working condition. It is a lovely color typical of polished brass. There are no markings and there was no provenance included from the original collector. It has a screw-in taper.


Date: circa 1880-1890

Origin: Germany

Materials: brass

Object ID: WPH-S&T82

This is known as a barrel spigot. It has F.H. Langenkamp, IND-P-LIB, and “Germ Hall” marked on the body of the object. The item was located and obtained by a collector in Sonoma County. Germ Hall from what we can deduct stands for German Hall.

According to the book History of Contra Costa County written in 1882 Frederick Langenkamp was born in the kingdom of Hanover, November 20, 1817, and there resided on a farm until his twenty-sixth year. He then emigrated to the United States, and first located in Baltimore, worked on a farm about three miles from that city for one summer; found employment on the railroad building from Baltimore to Harper’s Ferry. In January 1844 he enlisted in the U.S. Army, served with General Scott in the campaign in Mexico, took part in all prominent engagements of the campaign, and on the surrender of the Mexicans to the U.S. forces, he was stationed in Mexico City until the expiration of his term of service. He returned to New Orleans, got married to Miss Maria Hogan (native of Ireland), moved to Macon County, Illinois.

Eventually, the family (5 children) came to California by way of New York and Panama, arriving in San Francisco in October, 1863. They immediately located to Napa County and purchased the ranch of 180 acres of farming land in Ygnacio Valley. Langenkamp experimented extensively in the hop and fruit business and his farm was well-known in these endeavors.


Date: circa 1870-1890

Origin: France or United States

Materials: brass

Object ID: WPH-S&T91

Unusual elongated spout and brass wine tap.  Found on Brutocao Cellars Hopland, CA Estate.
The story begins with the grandfather, Irv Bliss, whose passion for agriculture grew through his years of farming in Sonoma County. Irv grew pears, prunes, walnuts, and a large family garden just outside of Healdsburg, in Sonoma County, California. For years Irv dreamed of planting a vineyard in Mendocino, which he believed to be one of the best places to grow grapes. In 1943 Irv Bliss got his chance to purchase a plot of land in Southern Mendocino County, immediately planting the original vineyard.

He farmed those vines for over 35 years before his son-in-law, Leonard Brutocao (pronounced brew’ tuh coe), took over the business. Leonard, with his love of vino, immediately saw the potential for supplying friends and family a handcrafted Mendocino wine. The Brutocao family released their first wine with the 1980 vintage. Shortly thereafter, they chose the Lion of St. Mark, modeled after the lion on top of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice, Italy, as their symbol of family tradition and quality. That quality comes from the location of their 400 acres of vineyards in southern Mendocino County.


Date: circa 1860-1870

Origin: France

Materials: bronze

Object ID: WPH-S&T92

This is a spigot from France, possibly as early as 1860-1870. “FORTOUL” is inscribed on the tool. “MACON” is also inscribed on the object.
Photo on the left: Found on eBay, United Kingdom. There was no information except that it was antique and from France. Photo on the right: A photo of the Wine History Project collection’s spigot S&T92.

To begin with, this tool was found at Latour Estate, Napa, CA. Beaulieu Vineyard pronounced bowl-you. Its French founder was Georges de Latour. Beaulieu (BV) which was founded in 1900 has been in the business of wine for 120 years. Perhaps its most notable contributions to wine were those performed by André Tchelistcheff, the Russian-born oenologist and one of America’s most influential 20th-century winemakers. The winery Tchelistcheff is most associated with is Beaulieu Vineyard, being first hired by Georges de Latour in 1938.

It all started in 1883 when Georges de Latour traveled from his native France to California. This well-educated chemist, who was also refined in the arts and spoke fluent Greek and Latin, continued with his profession as a chemist and executive at Stauffer Chemical Company. The Stauffer Chemical Company was founded in 1885 in San Francisco by two European immigrants, John Stauffer, Sr. and Christian de Guigne. The company mainly produced herbicides for corn and rice. He would soon, however, follow his true passion for winemaking.

In 1899, the Frenchman began to implement this dream of producing world-class wines. Georges de Latour spent several years analyzing the soils and microclimates of California, specifically in the Napa Valley, before he purchased his first parcel of agricultural land for its unique terroir. He decided to surprise his wife, Fernande, with this stunning piece of land. When she saw the property, she exclaimed, “Quel beau lieu!” which translates to, “What a beautiful place,” and thus this remarkable, secluded estate in Rutherford had a name.

By 1909, de Latour established a sizable nursery business supplying various grafted vines to vineyards. Prohibition was the end of most wineries in the United States. Not so with Beaulieu Vineyard. They thrived during this trying time in the wine industry as they had a national contract with the Catholic Church for producing Sacramental wine. At the end of Prohibition and a few years after Repeal, de Latour went to France and hired André Tchelistcheff to work at Beaulieu Vineyard where he spent 35 years as winemaker.

In 1923, Georges and Fernande’s daughter, Hélène, married into the well-established de Pins family in Gascony, in southwestern France. Hélène became the wife of the Marquis de Pins, whose father was the well-known Senator of the Gers Department and whose grandfather was the French Ambassador to Denmark. The de Pins family roots in the wine industry trace back centuries.

The de Pins added to the uniqueness of the Beaulieu property and entertained often, putting the stamp of their personalities on the estate. They continued the family’s multigenerational fascination with the production of world merit wines in this soon-to-be well-known winemaking region of the world. In the 1950s through the 1960s, Beaulieu was considered one of the “big four” Napa Valley producers, along with Inglenook, Charles Krug, and Louis Martini.

As for the inscription of “MACON” on the spigot. The Macon method of racking was (and may still be) used in the warehouses of Paris, France. A faucet was placed in a gimlet hole or bung hole, driven in with the help of a wooden hammer. Below the faucet, a jug was placed. The barrel had a funnel placed in it. The faucet was opened and the jugs were quickly changed to avoid closing the faucet every time which would disturb the lees. The jugs were emptied in the funnel. After racking the barrels, the faucet was taken out and a spigot was inserted. We read that this system usually made the wine in the barrels of the first row flat by being racked off jug after jug. The other point was that the rapidity of the work required workingmen who were familiar with the Macon method to be very efficient and quick about their work. This information was found in a pamphlet published in 1889 called Wines: Their Care and Treatment in Cellar and Store: Together with a Short Treatise on Vinification by Raimond Boireau.

And in describing the inscription of “FORTOUL.” Not sure why this appears on the spigot. Hippolyte Fortoul (1811–1856), was a French man-of-letters and a politician. No other reference to the word is found in our research that made any kind of connection to a spigot.

In Conclusion

I am told that spigots and taps aren’t used very often anymore in wineries. But if you see some, other than attached to your own plumbing in your residence, think about how you would describe it to someone else. Maybe impress them with a tiny bit of information about wood or metal spigots.