Sunday, January 10, 2010

Digging News: The Blue Soda Hole

Three "Old Time" diggers got together Saturday, here in Northern California, for a day of probing, and hopefully digging a few early privies or trash pits.

The property that we were working had already produced a fairly rare western fifth from an 1880's pit and some un-embossed utility bottles from a really early pontil pit.

The morning and early afternoon were spent probing the property without any results. Around 2 in the afternoon we hit a small pit up close to the original wagon road that ran through the settlement site. A test hole into the middle of the pit produced a really early hand forged axe head and the evidence to "open up" the pit.
Once the dimensions of the pit were established the dirt started flying. First bottle out of the hole was a Wm. Eagle's Superior Mineral Waters in cobalt blue with a red iron pontil. Boy did that ratchet up the excitement level! Lying next to the Wm. Eagle were 2 broken un-embossed blacks and just the top of another blob top blue soda showing.
After some root cutting (of course the pit was right next to a locust tree) and some careful digging, out pops a blue blob top soda embossed Mineral Waters with a red iron pontil on the base. Wow!... 2 pontiled soda's and we were just getting started into the hole.

After removing some loose soil and squaring up the hole two more bottles are showing. After cutting more roots out come two unembossed blacks and a broken Mineral Waters in light green.

With daylight leaving and the pit getting close to being finished another blue soda is showing along with an un-embossed black. After recovering the black out comes the soda: A deep blue Kimball & Co also sporting a red iron pontil.
While cleaning up the bottom of the pit we recover a silver coin embossed on the obverse Napoleon Empereon and on the reverse an 1808 date. Another great find!
After filling the hole back in we take stock of our spoils:
3 blue embossed soda's,
5 un-embossed blacks,
A silver 1808 French coin and what started it all, an early hand crafted axe head.

What an incredible day;
Old friends and some old bottles from a really old gold rush hole. It just doesn't get much better!


  1. WOW RICK !
    I believe that anytime you pull Gold Rush glass out of the ground in the Gold Country, it is an experience bordering on nirvana. Nice job, and keep the "feeling" as long as possible. Very few colectors know that thrill. AND there was a "Western" bottle in there!


  2. Good job, Rick. Super nice glass! We pounded out another 8 footer this afternoon. As usual, nothin' worth mentioning. Mostly "slickers", including a super crude pint union oval. Common patent meds and nothin' else "westerny". You never know, that's why we do it. No photos, though, not worth takin' the camera out.

  3. That's history right there, congrats.

  4. NICE!! What a great way to start the new year off. A gold rush hole. That makes this poor collector of '70s bottles 'stand at attention'!
    I even like the coin. What a story the little Empereor could tell. Places that little dude has been, things he has seen.
    Interesting how many foreign coins are found in the early gold rush stuff. There was an acute shortage of small denomination coins in early Calif. Anything that was silver, and about the size of quarter or half, circulated without question - 2 bits or 4 bits. The San Francisco mint started up in 1854, and finally enough small coins made their way into circulation. The French and Spanish coins fell out of favor, merchants didn't need gold scales to weigh the dust on every transaction. Times weren't quite as "lively".
    This little Napoleon might have seen a good bit of early gold rush California. If he could only talk...
    Hail with history, he could tell you where some more holes are. HA!