Turns out the portrait on the bottle is ''Poor Little Charlie'', Charles Ross, the young boy who was kidnapped in 1874, just 4 years old, never to be seen again. His was the first kidnapping for ransom in America to receive widespread attention from the media.
The admonition to children "Don't take candy from strangers" came as a result of this sad but much publicized affair. The story goes that Charlie and his brother were enticed by two men to go with to them to buy candy. The men drove the boys to a store, gave Charlie's brother money and sent him in to buy the candy. The men then drove off with Charlie.
The kidnappers wanted $20,000 [$400,00+ today], and the ransom notes threatened Charley's life if the police got involved. Charlie's father couldn't afford the ransom, and turned to the police.
The kidnapping soon became national news. In addition to the heavy press coverage, some prominent Philadelphians enlisted the help of the famous Pinkerton detective agency, who had millions of flyers and posters printed with Charley's likeness.
Apparently there were several versions of the Little Charlie Ross souvenir/memorial bottles, too, since there weren't milk cartons yet. Today a missing childrens data base is named after Charlie:http://www.charleyproject.org/ .
A popular song based on the crime was even composed by Dexter Smith and W. H. Brockway, entitled "Bring Back Our Darling".
Several attempts were made to provide the kidnappers with ransom money as dictated in the notes, but in each case the kidnappers failed to appear. Eventually, communication stopped.
There were suspects, trials, some were jailed or died, no one ever knew for sure who did what. The family searched for years, spending 3 times the ransom money following leads, and dealing with 1,000's of boys (then young men) who claimed to be Charlie, but Charlie was never found.
- Read more on wikipedia.
- The Museum of Connecticut Glass link -http://www.glassmuseum.org/
- Poor Little Charley -- here's the Travel Channel's video clip --http://www.travelchannel.com/
Ms. Dow Antiques Blog 'Tique Talk is published by msdowantiques.com
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