Sunday, June 9, 2019

Many of us are still thinking of you Rick, and we want to keep your excellent blog alive. Coming Soon!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

In Loving Memory

Thank you all for your wonderful comments, accolades and caring responses through this difficult time. Rick’s passing was so unexpected and it’s heartwarming to our family to receive your support.  Rick was one of those guys that you could never forget. He had a presence about him and when I first saw him 45 years ago, I knew immediately that our paths would cross someday.

Please keep me on your mailing list for upcoming shows and newsletters. I’m hoping to continue supporting the hobby as much as possible. Thank you again.
"Rick" Richard Gary Simi
December 21, 1947 - March 19, 2019


“Rick”, Richard Gary Simi passed away on March 19, 2019 at Mercy San Juan Hospital in Carmichael, CA after complications from a serious surgery.  He was 71 years old.

Rick was born in Oakland CA and was the first born boy and first boy grandchild in the Simi family. He spent his childhood moving between El Cerrito, Lake Tahoe and South Carolina before moving back to California and graduating from Harry Ells High School in 1965.

After graduation, Rick worked with his father at Berkeley Glass and received his Journeyman Glazier certificate. Later he worked with Bob Holt, who had a lightshow business during the early rock days. They produced light shows for rock concerts at Winterland, the Filmore and other Bay Area concert venues. Rick worked with many popular rock bands during the 1960-70’s and enjoyed friendships with several.

He had a passion for music all his life, as well as photography, race cars and motorcycles.  Rick had an artistic flair and was good with his hands; creating stained glass windows and working with wood. He had many hobbies and always pursued them to the fullest.  He was truly an example of a “renaissance man”.  Rick loved being outdoors; motorcycle riding, fishing, long range shooting, metal detecting, and bottle hunting. He was well-known for his knowledge of antique bottles and wrote a local history book called “Gold Rush Camps and Bottles of Sierra County”. Rick also created a popular forum-style website about collecting and researching antique bottles that has a large following of viewers.

Rick ventured into the gold country during the early 1970’s and finally found his forever home. He camped and panned for gold and ultimately bought a house in Sierra City.  This was where he wanted to plant roots. He obtained his building contractor’s license and did much of his work in the Sierra City, Downieville area. He and wife Cherry purchased the old Downieville Brewery and completely renovated it. After retiring from the building industry, and at the time of his death, he was a Federal, State and Locally licensed firearms dealer, instructor and gunsmith.

During his 49 years as a Sierra County resident, Rick was a past member of the Sierra City Fire Department; acted in the Sierra City Fireman’s Follies as the memorable French maid “Fifi”, was a past Downieville Cemetery Director; served as a Director on the Forest City Historical Society; volunteered to create exhibits and remodel the Downieville Museum; has been the Yuba Pass Chili Cook-Off three time first place winner; hosted the annual Downieville Antiques and Bottles Show, and participated in many other local activities and organizations.

Rick is survived by his wife of 32 years, Cherry; children Alex Simi (Napa), James Prince (Downieville), Chandra Baciocco (San Francisco), Natalina Simi (Oakland). Sister Renee Simi Kantor (Pleasanton) and brother Michael Simi (Rohnert Park), and several nieces, nephew, and cousins. Dear to his heart are grand-daughters Macie and Makenna Prince. Also grandchildren Jordan and Zachary Simi. Rick was preceded in death by his brother Joseph Simi and both parents.

A Celebration of Life for friends and family will be announced at a later date.

As in the lyrics from the song Truckin’ by the Grateful Dead:
 Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me,
 Other times I can barely see,
 Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it’s been.

We love and miss you, Rick. 

Rick adored his grand-daughters and they loved him back. This is a favorite photo of mine. 

Friday, March 22, 2019

Rest In Peace

Rest In Peace Rick, we are going to miss you.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Mills' Bitters A.M. Gilman

Update on the Mills' Bitters

The first listing for the Mills' Bitters in California is in, The Shasta Courier, July 22, 1854. It shows H. Gilbert of Shasta, Cal. selling it.

Here is an ad from the Nashville Union and American, Dec. 2, 1855. It shows what the Mills' Bitters was made for and from whom. It was highly advertised in Nashville, Tenn. during the 1850's.
The first listing for A.M. Gilman is in the San Francisco directory 1854. He is listed at 106 Battery St. S.F.
Next in 1856 he is at 82 Front St. and established the company name, A.M. Gilman & Co. in 1855
1861 -  324 Front St.
1862 - 414 Front St.
1864 - 409 Front St.
1871 - 322 Washington St.
1873 - 308 California St.
1876 - 308 California St. "Lick House" Billiard Saloon
1880 - 1516 California St.
There is no listing for A.M. Gilman after 1880.
The newspaper ads I found for A.M. Gilman start in 1857.
The first one is in the, Daily Alta, April 2, 1857
Next is in the, Red Bluff Beacon, April 11, 1861 and August 7, 1862

 Daily Alta, August 2, 1873
Daily Alta, Nov. 27, 1874

Daily Alta, Dec. 20, 1875

Daily Alta, June 4, 1876

Daily Alta, August 12, 1877

Daily Alta, Jan. 31, 1878

Daily Alta, August 14, 1878
This is the first and only ad for the Mills' Bitters and the very last ad for A.M. Gilman.

Strange that Mr. Gilman waited until the end of his career to produce the Mills' Bitters. After this ad in 1878, he is only listed one more time in 1880. He is listed as a merchant at 1516 California St. After that he disappears. Shortly after Mr. Cassin takes over the brand. Mr. Gilman had a 26 year run in the liquor business.  He had only one liquor business in the Santa Cruz area fail.

But, the great thing that A.M. Gilman did is produce a rare one year only Western Bitters.
Thanks Mr. Gilman


Saturday, February 23, 2019


Hey Rick;

“Two western diggers( JS &DM) teamed up recently in a western State and found three pits ranging from the early 1860s to the late 1880s. There were over 100 intact bottles found with these being the undamaged “favorites”. Quite a variety of glass from all categories. Nothing like digging fun glass in 10 foot deep mud filled holes!”

Monday, February 11, 2019

Aurora Oregon Show - this weekend

I'd strongly suggest calling before traveling to the show due to inclement weather (IE; a LOT of snow)! 

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Saturday, February 9, 2019

W.S. Wright- Revisited - A True Piece of History.

Recently I was able to reacquire a bottle which I dug many years ago...lost in the pick, purchased it later, traded it, and now am grateful to have back on the shelf. It is a dark aqua W.S.Wright blob soda with thousands of champagne bubbles, and in perfect condition. To me these sodas are among the most historically significant pieces of western glass.
William S. Wright came to California in the 1850s and initially settled in the Petaluma, California area. He ran

a store there until moving to the Comstock about 1860. Wright started in the soda water business in 1861 at Mill and B street in Virginia City. In the Summer of 1863, Wright placed an order for 24,000 soda bottles from the fledgling Pacific Glass Works. This large order actually made headlines in the San Francisco and Sacramento newspapers. Obviously he had grand ideas of the demand for his bottled soda in the booming town. For such a large order of "custom" bottles, relatively few have survived. It is thought that a significant percentage of these bottles were poorly manufactured with flashes, numerous pot stones, and other impurities. In 1989 literally thousands of these "rejects" were dug in a large well or outhouse near the W.S. Wright factory. Only a handful were found intact, and most of these were loaded with chunks of charcoal, and stones. I have seen and held the killer dark green example with hundreds of stones throughout, and amazingly, none radiate. What a bottle!
The W.S. Wright has "Pacific Glass Works" proudly embossed on the base, and although no State is embossed, these are considered to be the earliest western blown soda bottle. They are also territorial which makes these bottles the earliest territorial soda bottles in the U.S.
Very few of the Wright sodas have been found outside the Virginia City area, which makes sense as there was most likely this one order. There are in my opinion about 30 undamaged examples in collections. All in all this is one important western bottle! Dale M.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

"Great New Discovery"

The "London Jockey Club House Gin" ledger book has been discovered. Many questions will be answered. Who created it and where, who was buying it and selling it. Even the names of the sailing ships they were delivered on and how many cases made it to California and the West. A full article on the complete history of the London Jockey coming out soon in the Antique Bottle & Glass Collector magazine.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Dr. J. Hostetter's Stomach Bitters

Dr. J. Hostetter’s Stomach Bitters was first marketed in an embossed bottle, on the Pacific Coast, as early as 1858 by the firm of Park & White of San Francisco. David Hostetter, with his father’s recipe for bitters, and George Smith with the capital to produce and market the product, in 1853, formed the firm of Hostetter & Smith. The first containers produced for the western market were the large 31 ounce size black glass or amber bottles that were manufactured for the Pacific Coast. A 27 ounce bottle was also produced for the western market. The large blacks or ambers are rarely unearthed east of the Rocky Mountains and almost all examples have been discovered on the west coast. The large size Hostetter’s were distributed until sometime around February 1865 when in an advertisement run by Hostetter, Smith & Dean they claim to be discontinuing “the old size large bottle used exclusively in the west” and replacing it with the small size 20 ounce bottle. This information leads me to believe that if you are digging the large size Hostetter’s here in the west you are digging a bottle made before 1865 and possibly as early as 1858.
Although several western collectors believe some variants of the Hostetter’s were blown out west I cannot find any evidence that Hostetter had any of his bitters bottles manufactured on the west coast.
Hostetter’s Bitters was one of the best selling bottled products of the 19th century and the amount of these bottles available to collectors is staggering. It is believed that after 1865 Hostetter was selling over six thousand bottles of bitters a day, an unbelievable amount of bottled goods for that time period. The Hostetter’s come in dozens of variants and a myriad of colors ranging from the lightest of yellows to a dark black-amber. Although the majority of the Hostetter’s are considered common, unusual colors and different mold variants are highly desirable and sought after by collectors.

Rowler's (Roller's) Infallible Rheumatism Medicine and Klink's Counterfeit

It seems like every successful bitters or medicine product that I research has some sort of skeleton in its closet. Take for instance the Rowler’s Rheumatism Medicine. Prepared by Dr. J.R. Boyce of Sacramento City. J.R. Boyce, located at the corner of K and Second Street, claimed to have bought the recipe for the rheumatism medicine from Charles Roller sometime in the late 1850’s.  Charles Roller claims that “the recipe was given to me by a friend in this country”
Charles F. Klink, a druggist also from Sacramento, approached Charles Roller with a proposition to manufacturer Roller’s rheumatism medicine and split the profits from the sale of the product with Roller. Roller declined the proposition and Klink began informing the public that he (Klink) had the original recipe that Roller had bought or brought from New Orleans.
At about the same time as the Klink allegations (during the summer of 1861) Boyce comes out with the embossed Rowler’s bottle and states in a Sacramento Daily Union advertisement “to guard against spurious and counterfeit medicine, you will please observe that the written signature of Jas. R. Boyce, M.D, appears on each label, and that the name of the medicine is blown in the bottle".
Dr. Boyce was a larger than life character, well respected and besides pushing the Rowler's product practiced medicine in Sacramento. While walking on the corner of Sixth & K Street one day with John Cassidy a man named William Tierney discharged a revolver at Cassidy. The ball struck Boyce in the back and passed entirely through his body. Cassidy immediately ran down K Street and Tierney followed behind still firing at him. In all, three shots were fired and after the second shot Cassidy cried out, I'm shot! I'm shot!. The ball passed through his clothing, grazing his skin. but did no injury. Boyce, on the other hand, was considered in critical condition by his attending physicians. As it turns out Cassidy was accused of improper intimacy with Tierney's wife and Tierney had been "gunning" for Cassidy.
Dr. Boyce, although seriously injured, steadily improved and finally overcame his injury's.
The Rowler's comes with a pontil and also a smooth base variant. These bottles were manufactured at the second glass works to begin operation in San Francisco.  The glass works was built in May of 1860 and manufactured several different medicine bottles, to include the Dr. Bowen's Blood Purifier and the Adolphus Anti Rheumatic Cordial bottles as well. All examples, that I know of, were dug in the west. These bottles are pretty scarce and I know of one intact example that was unearthed in the Nevada City area in the early 1990's. The late Mike Dolcini dug two Rowler's in Sacramento, one pontiled and one smooth base.

Although scarce, the "Rowler's" are not exactly rare. Several were unearthed in Old Sac back in the late '60s and early '70s. One pit we dug under what is now Fanny Anne's Saloon produced 2 mint and several damaged OP Rowler's. At the time, they brought relatively high prices, $125 to $150 in the considerably higher dollar value of those years. I recall one darker green example bringing the princely sum of $225 at an early Sacramento Bottle Show. In the years since, only a couple have been dug in Sac'to. One on D St, between 13th and 14th, in Alkali Flat, and another on 12th and Q after the old Pepsi Cola bottling plant was removed to make way for another state office building. Specimens may have been dug by others that I am not aware of, including the rumor of one dug in Marysville.
Mike Dolcini


I much as I hate counterfeiters, bogus products and imitations you have to thank the perpetrators of these frauds......... without them we probably wouldn't have any embossed bottles - rs -
Thanks to Warren Friedrich, Dale Mlasko and the late Mike Dolcini

Wednesday, December 12, 2018


Quite a while back I acquired a bottle that I knew absolutely nothing about and had never seen before. What intrigued me about the bottle was the name CAL. VOLCANIC MINERAL WATER CO. embossed on the side panels of the bottle. Even though the name Cal. Volcanic was enough to spark my interest the "R's" in MINERAL and WATER were of the curved variety. Those curved "R's" are associated with the bottles blown in San Francisco and that was the clincher for the purchase.

The first mention of the Cal. Volcanic Water Co. product, that I could find, was in the 1880 Sacramento Daily Union newspaper. As you can see in the ad the mineral water was discovered in Southern California and was known as Fahrenkrug's Eradicator.

1880 Sacramento Daily Union mention of the Volcanic Water
The Sacramento Daily Union of March 1883 lists "California Volcanic Mineral Water, San Francisco, Cal" under the heading "Business Announcements". I am not sure if this is the beginning of the mineral water business or just a mention of an established business. It seems like the above ad from the 1880 Sacramento Daily Union would be the beginning time frame for the business and the advertisement below a mention of the established "up and running" mineral water business in San Francisco
March 1883 Sacramento Daily Union

Notice the curved "R's on the indented panel embossing
Flat western style medicine base
Early tooled type top
Embossed indented panel
1883 Pacific Rural Press advertisement for the California Volcanic Mineral Water.
A remedy for blood diseases, rheumatism and liver complaint. A cure for kidney disease, dyspepsia and female complaints. The bottle is shaped like a medicine, the contents are from southern California. Heck, this is a western medicine in Fahrenkrug's disguise of some sort of a mineral water eradicator hallucination  If its shaped like a medicine, claims to cure ailments such as blood diseases etc. and has the word California embossed on the bottles with the western R's, in my book, that's a western medicine.

Cal. Volcanic Mineral Water