Monday, December 5, 2016

49er Roseville Show Report

 I thought I would post a brief report of the 49er "Best of the West" show held this past weekend in Roseville. This show has become quite an event, and while I miss Auburn, Max, Mike and the team have put together a show that is exciting to attend.

 This year's show seemed very well attended and the hall was packed with people searching for the next treasure to add to their collection. There was a wide variety of items on tables from bottles and insulators to advertising and western memorabilia. The "shotgun start", was interesting as dealers and buyers were allowed to enter the hall at the same 9:00 am start time. This seemed to work well, although it was difficult for me to be everywhere at once during the subsequent chaos. People were dashing from table to table looking for a great deal...and deals there were.

 Since there are two major western collections being offered via auction in the next two months, it seemed like some fantastic western pieces sat on tables for awhile, and many did not sell. People must be saving their money, as I saw great glass at bargain prices on many tables. There was a strong example of an amber Gold Dust, and a super aqua N. Van Bergen. On another table I noticed a light yellow "A No.1" Cutter, Teakettle, and Fleckenstein & Mayer fifth. Numerous "Circle Cutter's", Mid-Crowns, N. Grange, Columbian, McKenna's, Hotaling Shoulder Crown, a GREEN "Non-Crown", and many others. I did not see any of them sell, even though they were strong examples and VERY reasonably priced. There was even a mint cobalt S.F. Gaslight, and the finest cobalt Taylor Eureka pontiled soda I have ever seen. I did notice that western flasks were nonexistant, with one Fleckenstein & Mayer knife edge...

 Jeff Wichmann's table was really popular as usual and while I was fortunate enough to be in the front row, I was unable to snatch anything for my collection. There were some samplings of upcoming auction bottles, and a video slide show of the real " heavies" to be auctioned in February.

I can tell you that early western medicines are HOT! The most active buying I witnessed, was with the early medicines. I saw virtually every one purchased as soon as it was put on the table. There was a nice selection of applied top western meds, and most went to happy collectors.

All in all, it was a fun show, and provided an amazing raffle selection, pizza brought in, and fellowship...I still miss Auburn, but no matter where this show is held, I will be there!

Dale M.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

This Weekend

Bring your want list, cash savings and GPS or street map to find the Fairgrounds.
See you there - rs -

From Michael Burgess


Anyone have any info for Michael on this product? - rs -

More on J.R. Williams / National Horse

Looks like he had other irons in the fire. Bruce Silva
Anyone ever seen the Williams "Little Gem" Ague cure embossed or paper labeled?
How about Stockton collector Charles H. from Herald have you heard of it? 
- rs -

Search for Egyptian Corn Cure was fruitless.
I did find references to numerous products, in addition to HHH Horse medicine, registered during the partnership of Williams and Moore~ They ranged from Gopher and Squirrel Poison to Salmon's Infallible Hair Restorative.
And once the partnership was split up Moore continued to crank out a myriad of products both on his own, and in partnership with his son.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

National Horse Liniment

From Bruce Silva:

It took a while, but was able to run down quite a bit of obscure info on the Horse Liniment post.
First reference I found to Williams was July 5, 1875. However, it was not in association with his National Horse Medicine; rather it was HHH Horse Medicine. He was partnered up with a Mr. Moore in Stockton.

The first reference to National appeared on May 5, 1883.

Williams had apparently split from Moore and gone out on his own. Note the "remarkable" similarity between the bottles that contained the "magic elixir"~

Later, a redesigned ad with fancy graphics appeared; first date was March 8,1884.

By March 16, 1886, the ad had changed and the product was now being peddled by a drug wholesaler.

The last reference I found to the product was Nov. 20, 1886

Meanwhile, HHH continued to be sold for several more years throughout the Central Valley and SO. Cal..

Thursday, November 24, 2016

National Horse Liniment

I am new to posting. Here is a bottle I dug a few years ago. Any info would be helpful. Any others out there? 70s or 80s.

Thanks  Brent Henningsen



Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Mary Ann Reaves

I pulled the trigger a little too soon on the background of Mary Ann Reaves, so I will set the record straight. Her maiden name was Mary Angeline Skinner, born about 1829 in Illinois. She married Tennessee born George Reaves on May 27, 1847, in Madison County, Illinois. The couple made their way to Oregon Territory by the early 1850's where two sons were born, Samuel Irving Reaves in 1853 and Milton Franklin Reaves in 1854.
The family then moved to Cottonwood, Yolo County, California, by the late 1850's where their youngest son was born in 1859. The 1880 census finds the family in Snelling, Merced County, however George is missing as Mary Ann is noted as divorced.

As noted in my previous comment, Mary Ann received a U.S. Patent in 1880for what she calls a "compound for catarrh." It consisted of an infusion of tobacco and wild mallard leaves (not sure what this is). But, the interesting twist to this concoction is, as the patent states, "When it is to be used for the ordinary treatment or dressing of the scalp the proportion of mallard-leaves is two ounces to twelve of the tobacco." So the invention serves a dual purpose depending upon the formulaic percentages.
his would explain her note in her first advertisement where she claims her hair preparation is patented.

The first advertisement for M.A. Reaves' Great Electric Hair Tonic. It appeared in the 1882 San Francisco Directory for 1882.
Also of importance in assuring that the Mary Ann Reaves is the same one that produced this product, as well as the one documented with the family listed above is that for the first few years of her operation, her agent and salesman is listed in the directory as well, being Samuel I. Reaves. As noted earlier, Mary Ann continued to be listed as purveyor of her hair tonic until 1886, after which she is absent from San Francisco. Her son, Samuel I. Reaves, died in Los Angeles on May 9, 1921.

Mary Ann Reaves' two sons, Milton and Samuel, apparently attempted to capitalize on their horse riding skills in the mid-1870's as this newspaper advertisement attests. (Oakland Evening Tribune, April 27, 1876)

 Eric McGuire

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Recent Acquisition

I recently purchased a western hair bottle on ebay from one of our fellow collectors in Washington.
Actually, I don't positively know its western as I cannot find any information on this bottle but those magic western style R's embossed in the glass are a pretty good indication that the bottle was blown in the west. I have seen another example of this bottle at the Anderson show several years ago but haven't seen any other examples since then.

The flat front panel and curved back panel are, I believe, somewhat unusual for a western bottle.

If anyone has any information on this bottle or M.A. Reaves I would appreciate your comments.
- rs -

Friday, November 18, 2016

Western Bitters Inventory

Here are my rough guesses on the number of known examples of Western Bitters. I may be way off on many of these numbers and colors so please comment and add your knowledge. It would be great to further break down the numbers by color and variant.

  • IXL - Over 100, green, amber, yellow, teal, aqua
  • Lacour's - Over 40, green, amber, yellow, clear, aqua
  • Renz's - Over 40, green, amber, yellow, teal
  • Cylindrical Wonser's - Less than 15 aqua, Over 30 in other colors, green, amber, yellow
  • Rosenbaum's - Over 30, green, amber, puce (small size vs large size ?)
  • Square Wonser's - Less than 20, aqua
  • EG Lyon's - Around 20, green,amber, yellow, teal
  • Cassin's - Around 10, green, amber, yellow, black, aqua
  • Alex Von Humboldt's - Around 13 known, green, amber, yellow
  • Boerhaave's - less than 10, green, amber
  • M. Keller - less than 10, green, amber, teal ???
  • Salutaris - less than 10, green, puce
  • Wideman & Chappas - less than 10, green,puce
  • GA Simon's - less than 3, green, amber, yellow
  • Dr. Hausman's - less than 3 (two may be damaged), amber

Has anyone ever found pieces of puce Renz's, Boerhaaves, Alex Von Humbodlts, or Lyons??

Pratt's New Life

Here is great bottle that was almost in one piece. What a shame ! How many busted blue examples have been seen over the years ?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Fall in the Canyon

 Its Fall here in the Downie River canyon and the local wildlife are bulking up for winter

This adolescent spent all day yesterday feasting on walnuts in the tree across the street
And after having his fill napped till dusk
This is not the infamous Pizza Parlor bear - rs -

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


In a recent post I touched upon the use of mold forensics to make certain determinations or judgments about the bottles they produced. Such observations may be of little value to the increasing bank of knowledge about old bottles, but we often don't know what sort of importance can be assigned these discoveries until much later. Noted below are two examples that are currently of little importance but add to our collective knowledge.

A plethora of molds with peened-out lettering attest to their reuse for other products or perhaps they experienced modifications by the original owner.  A privately owned mold would probably be stored at the glass factory where it was used to blow more bottles upon request from the owner.   When a mold owner had no more use for his mold it would likely pass through the hands of the glass factory where it was modified for reuse.  It may have been dismantled, with some parts being modified to fit other mold parts, and/or it may have been re-lettered and sold to yet another entrepreneur who had dreams of becoming another Dr. Kilmer, or Jack Daniel.  The manufacture of bottle molds was an expensive commodity just as it is today so cost-cutting can be reflected in the reuse of outdated molds.


Photo of a portion of the bottle mold inventory at the Pacific Coast Glass Works in San Francisco in the early 1900’s.  Note that each rack is alphabetically lettered.  Shown here are Racks A, B and C.  The company must have had many hundreds of molds in inventory.

One of my favorite “mold conundrums” occurs on two separate soda water bottles and takes advantage of a uniquely placed bump on the base of each.  The lettered face of the mold for the SAN RAFAEL SODA WORKS experienced at least one modification when the single proprietor evolved into a partnership, and the bottles needed to reflect that change – probably about 1880.  The bottle is also characterized by a small irregular bump that is slightly off-center.  Having a good “selective memory” for things that are monetarily worthless, and historically trivial, I once studied the bottom of another soda bottle - from Salt Lake City, Utah. The J. DAY & CO. bottle has a bump on its bottom that seemed strangely familiar.  I rummaged around in some boxes and retrieved my San Rafael Soda Works bottle for comparison.  There is little doubt that the bases of these two soda bottles came from the same mold – or more precisely, part of the same mold.

After staring at this discovery for awhile, I attempted to get past my “so what” conclusion.  The relevance is rather trivial but I feel somewhat comfortable in attributing the J. Day bottles to a San Francisco glass company.  It seems reasonable that after the construction of the intercontinental railroad the shipping of bottles eastward would have become more economical.  Commerce to the east of San Francisco was generally more viable than shipping goods eastward over the continental divide, especially after construction of the railroad in 1869. Having made that statement it must be qualified by further noting that there are many examples of bottles made in the East for the Utah market which appeared to be on the geographic dividing line, with said line probably shifting eastward or westward depending on market factors in play at the time.


The San Rafael Soda Works bottle shown on the left was used for a very short period beginning in 1879.  The mold was re-worked about a year later to reflect the initials of the new proprietors – P & B.  Sylvain M. Provensal and Alphonse Bresson, two French immigrants, purchased the rights to the San Rafael Soda Works from Joseph Kappenman about 1880.  .


The photo below shows the base of the bottle with its rather odd off-center dot.  Also visible is the keyed mold seam.  The semi-circular key helped to align the two halves of the mold when they were closed.





The J. Day & Co. soda water bottle was a first for Salt Lake City.  None of the older Salt Lake soda water bottles that would follow it can be attributed to a San Francisco origin.  It was made in 1871 and the first to carry the little base dot that later shows up on the San Rafael Soda Works bottle.  Unfortunately, the impression is not as clear as pictured here but it still retains its unusual form, which is similar to that on the previous picture, and is in exactly the same position within the base mold.





In fact the Day bottle represents a fascinating and historical, yet short-lived piece of Utah history.  James M. Day, jr., was an enterprising young man in the City of Salt Lake when he married his young bride, Rachel Amelia Clayton, on April 26, 1871.(1)

Rachel was the daughter of a prominent figure in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons).  Her father was William Clayton, the confidant  and scribe of the founder of the Mormon Church, Joseph Smith, and after Smith’s murder he continued this position with Brigham Young.  Clayton’s diaries form the basis for much of the official history of Joseph Smith. The third of his ten wives, Diantha Farr, and William Clayton were married in Nauvoo, Illinois, on January 9, 1845.  Rachel was born in Salt Lake City on August 18, 1850, just one of his 42 children. (2)

After his wedding James Day had planned a “honeymoon” in San Francisco and boarded the train that same day with his new bride. (3)  But, the trip was also for another purpose.  Day had plans to open Salt Lake City’s first soda water manufactory that used bottles with his name embossed, and he would purchase the required equipment, and bottles, while he and his bride were in San Francisco.  By May he was back in Salt Lake City and selling soda and sarsaparilla.  Judging from his regular advertisements in the local newspaper he was doing a good business for nearly a year. 

On April 4, 1872, Day’s world took a decided turn for the worse when his young wife succumbed from complications of childbirth. (4) Just as Bishop Daniel Sylvester Tuttle presided over her marriage vows, he also spoke the obsequies at Rachel Day’s funeral.  Bishop Tuttle was Episcopalian, which, I am sure, did not set well with her father, and implies a decided family rift for Rachel must have broken away from the Mormon Church. (5)  It appears that James Day stopped selling soda water and focused on the sale of bottled porter and ale for a few months before closing up shop.  Nothing more can be documented of James Day in Salt Lake City.

The DAY & CO. soda bottle mold probably sat in the inventory of the Pacific Glass Works for about seven years until it was reused by the San Francisco &Pacific Glass Works. Joseph Kappenman requested a private mold for his SAN RAFAEL SODA WORKS bottles about 1879.  The two halves of the DAY & CO. mold were then separated and the back half  was used for the lettered front of the J. KAPPENMAN soda water bottle mold.  This half included the odd dot on the base. Such is the sort of whimsical information that can come from the appearance of an irregular dot on the base of a soda bottle.

 The intrigue of another local bottle has also been enhanced by evidence of mold modification.  The pictured ROSE CREAM bottle is rare by any account and appears to have been produced in San Francisco.  The addition of the English Royal coat-of-arms does bring its origins into question except for the existence of another unembossed bottle.  Both of the subject bottles are exactly the same shape and both were dug in California. 


The elusive and mysterious ROSE CREAM bottle and its “ghost” counterpart.  Both were
obviously blown in the same mold.

 The blue unembossed version looks even more “western” than its embossed cousin.  They both have applied tops, which, if blown in San Francisco, would date them to before circa 1880. They are 5 ¼ inches high.  Upon close inspection, one face of the unembossed blue bottle shows faint lines of a slug plate in the mold and four rivet marks that held the plate in place.  The size of the plate happens to fit very nicely around the area of the embossed features of the ROSE CREAM bottle.  The embossing in the mold that made the aqua specimen was removed in order to make the un-embossed blue bottle pictured on the right.

Upon closer inspection, the bases of both bottles reveal a small bump in the same location.  This obviously unintended feature is positive proof that both bottles were blown in the same mold, with the ROSE CREAM bottle being blown prior to its unembossed relative.  This is another example of a re-used mold.




The small dot on both examples of these bottles are circled in the photos.  They are placed in exactly the same location which leaves no doubt that both were blown in the same mold.


 The Rose Cream product must have been really short-lived as no information has surfaced about its manufacture.  It was likely a cosmetic in the same genre as Wakelee’s Cameline, and Dickey’s Creme de Lis.  Face whitening liquids with flowery names were all the rage in the Victorian Era.

 The examples of mold uniqueness cited here are not unusual.  Most bottle molds have some individual characteristics that are transferred to the bottles produced.  However, in most cases it just doesn’t matter – not even to the most obsessed collector or researcher.  But, as collecting becomes more refined, the individual nature of such features becomes more important.  Perhaps the greatest relevance will occur in the future as values of some bottles increase, enticing unscrupulous individuals to copy the originals and sell them as the real thing.



End notes:

1.  Salt Lake Tribune, April 28, 1871

2.  For information on William Clayton, see:

3.  Salt Lake Tribune, April 28, 1871

4.  Salt Lake Tribune, April 5, 1872

5.  see Reminiscences of a Missionary Bishop by Daniel Sylvester Tuttle. 1906, for an interesting account of his life.  It has been digitized by Google Books.

 Thanks Eric for a very informative and interesting article! - rs -



Friday, November 4, 2016

Very excited to add this " OGW " Oakland Glass Works demijohn to the collection, acquired today in Tulare, CA.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Monday, October 31, 2016

One of my Favorite Western Bottles.

 When I was fortunate enough to dig in Virginia city, and before digging was basically shut down there, the one bottle I wanted to dig the most was the early "Geo' P. Morrill, Apothecary, Virginia City". This crude and typically deep colored "citrate" style medicine has a mystique to me and typifies early western glass. These bottles were blown in San Francisco in the 1863-65 time period, and are some of the first bottles blown at the Pacific Glass Works. They exhibit crude embossing, crude glass and that MONSTER top.They are also considered territorial bottles. I believe there are about a half dozen in collections and some of them have issues. It is hard to imagine how that huge top could have survived, use, being discarded, and dug up without being chipped but a few are perfect.
  If I were to create the stereotypical western bottle, this would be a contender. To me it just has everything going for it including a rich Comstock history. It is VERY unlikely that any more will be dug or found and I was never fortunate to dig so much as a piece of one...thankfully a few other diggers did and I was able to add one to my collection. DM

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Where East Meets West

Thanks Bruce for the picture of the great collection of pepper sauces...... Now any guesses which bottles are western blown? -  If in doubt read Eric's great article on gothic pepper sauce bottles in the previous post - rs -

Friday, October 28, 2016


The gothic style peppersauce was probably first designed in the 1840's and became very popular with retailers until the 1880's. It was produced in numerous glass houses in the East and Midwest. As would be expected, stylistic variations are abundant, but the gothic arch panel is usually the mainstay feature. The style was so popular that it was even produced by the early San Francisco glass factories. This little California jewel is, in my opinion, somewhat under-appreciated by collectors.

So far, the earliest documentation of this bottle that I have been able to find is the 1869 Pacific Glass Works display at the Mechanic's Institute Exhibition, when it was photographed along with many of the company's wares. Having studied these bottles for many years I have noticed several unique features that I would like to share and also, perhaps elicit comments and observations from others who may have found these bottles interesting. I am sure there are outstanding examples residing in western collections.

My first observation is that there was only one pattern used in their manufacture in San Francisco, and it is unlike any other design. In other words it is only found in the western states. While it may be similar in design to some of those used in the East, it is distinct in form. To think that none of these bottles were ever shipped east is quite unlikely, however, they are so common in the west that it is only logical to assume they were produced in the west.

At first glance the pattern appears to be like many others that are also found throughout the United States. The most significant unusual feature is the simplicity of the top two sunken panels. All non-western versions have slightly more embellishment in this area. The remainder of the pattern is virtually identical to many of the eastern/mid-western counterparts.

To complicate matters just a little, the western design is also found in two distinct molds, and with a corresponding distinct lipping tool used with each of the molds. Both are shown above. It is probably impossible to determine if the molds were used simultaneously, either by the two major factories during the time, or at the same time by the same factory.  With this in mind I will venture to predict that the earliest mold, which I will call Mold One, pictured above on the right, is probably the same mold that produced the bottle in the 1869 Pacific Glass Works photo. The design of the side panels are nearly impossible to differentiate between the two molds, however, Mold One has a unique base design and lip finish. Mold Two is on the left.

The base of Mold One is characterized by an edge frame that is not present in Mold Two. The central dome on the base is formed to create a true "key" type mold, with the dome attached to one side of the bottom, which forces the two mold halves to tightly align when the mold is closed. Another unique characteristic of Mold One is located on the base on the upper left of the above photo. This part of the mold seam is extra heavy and this feature is found on all of these bottles that I have examined.

 Mold Two, above, has its own unique characteristics and was likely used over a greater period of time as the bottles are found with tooled tops and in contexts that date to about 1890. Perhaps the greatest difference between it and Mold One is that the base configuration is missing its surrounding "border" and the central dome is a separate post piece, usually referred to as a post mold. There are no unique or outstanding mold line "fingerprints" on the base that could otherwise identify it.

 As noted earlier, the lips of each mold are consistently made with slightly different tool configurations. Keeping in mind that the lipping process can produce somewhat inconsistent variations, a study of the lip profiles reveals slightly different yet identifiable features. The lipping tool for Mold One, on the right,  reveals a rather sharp edged skirt while the very top profile is more full and rounded. The lipping tool for Mold Two, on the left,  creates a more rounded skirt profile and the topmost bulb is flatter across the top.

 The last of the notable differences are contained within slight inconsistencies along mold seams. Much like fingerprints, these differences are unique to specific molds. The seams along Mold One are clean and show no unique features except for one on the base, as noted above.  Mold Two also produces fairly clean seam marks on its bottles except for one feature on the shoulder and located just to the left of the red marks on the above photo. Although small, and difficult to photograph,  this bump or protrusion of glass is typical of all bottles blown in Mold Two.
The photograph above also shows the last of the bottles blown in Mold Two (on right).  By the 1880's the vibrance of our aqua western glass began to look like nearly every other glass works product. As in the tooled top example of the Mold Two peppersauce, probably made in the mid to late 1880's, the telltale signature of the small bump on the shoulder still survives.


However, a most obvious variation to Mold Two is the enlargement of the neck, which likely allowed for some relief to the age-old problem of the contents becoming stuck in the bottle. The neck portion of the mold was increased 3/16 inch which allowed for easier pouring.
With the described revealing features, along with the usual but less consistent visual substance of western glass qualities,  it is quite easy to identify these bottles. The colors are the usual range of aqua found in western glass, even with an exceptional western citron example sometimes blown in Mold One.

Eric McGuire
Thanks for the informative and interesting article on these under appreciated western bottles - rs -

Sunday, October 16, 2016

"The Best of the Best" Backbar Bottles

To those who are new to collecting back bar bottles, pay attention. This is a list of back bar bottles that just sold at Morphy's Auction. They are the best back bar bottles you will ever see. These are on a different  level of collecting bottles. Forget crudity, its all about the "Bling".

 Sold; $22,000

Sold; $16,000

Sold; $7,000

Sold; $11,000

Sold; $10,000

Sold; $10,000

Sold; $14,000

Sold; $7,500

Sold; $9,000