A reader of this site sent a question that I’d like your assistance in answering – namely, any information at all about Alfred Lamb, the creator of Lamb’s Navy Rum. Representatives of the brand have remarkably little information: Alfred was a London merchant who reportedly came up with the blend of rums marketed under his name in 1849, when just 22 years old, and apparently did nothing else to attract any attention for the rest of his life. It’s not clear whether he ever actually went to the Caribbean – a reference to an Alfred Lamb in the West Indies may have been a different person who happened to have the same name. There are references to an Alfred Lamb, merchant of London, as a member of a charitable organization in 1866, but beyond that tenuous link he seemed to have no impact on society. For a man of wealth who put his own name on the bottle, he seems amazingly shy of publicity. The records of the company were destroyed during the London Blitz, and his descendants have put plaintive requests for help on ancestry and genealogy websites. Does anyone out there have any information, original documents, or pictures? It would be good to shed some light on the founder of a popular brand.
Another mystery seems destined to remain unsolved – a reader asked the reason for the number on this label: The brand wasn’t established in 1951, and there is no obvious connection between that number and anything in the history or production of the spirit. A question to the owners of the company yielded the following unhelpful answer:
“There are many stories circulated about the meaning of “51”. I can not confirm any of them, as the owners prefer to keep the true meaning a family secret.”
This is one of the most deliberately mysterious trademarks in the annals of marketing. I include their response so nobody else will waste time bothering them, since they obviously don’t seem inclined to discuss the matter…