Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Acquisition Blues

Ever take a hard look at your collection and think “boy it’s been a while since I have added something to my (fill in the blank) bottles. Did that today and now I’m needing a “bitters fix”
There’s only one problem... bitters, the ones that I like, are impossible to obtain. Western bitters, and especially squares, have just caught fire and are selling for stupid money lately. The influx of “new” western bitters collectors has ratcheted up the demand for a limited supply of the more desirable bottles and we all know what that means; it’s a seller’s market and in a seller’s market buyers pay what seller’s ask

What’s a fellow to do? Find another field to collect?

I have been trying to get interested in local stuff.... but nothing from my little backwater town was embossed. Looking at a shelf full of slick bottles, in my opinion, is like watching paint dry. That’s not an option.

Whiskies? Now there’s a thought. I own some nice ones and could possibly add some interesting fifths to my collection, but they are all pretty much the same shape and same color. Although the history of the western whiskey and their manufacturers and agents stories are fascinating I need something more to keep my interest.

Western medicines... I have picked up a few crude and scarce ones lately and they look great but they don't scratch the itch, just make it tolerable.

Insulators? The Doc told me I was getting to old to work on roofs anymore. If he found out I was climbing poles looking for insulators he would read me the riot act. I am going to pass on the insulators.

I guess I will just be patient; hopefully I will dig something or detect something that sparks my interest or maybe what I need is just some early glass to scratch that itch.

I just hate “The Acquisition Blues”

Thanks to the soleagent for the help on this post!


  1. Hey Rick...I get the Bitters Blues and worse...Bitters Cravings. The slow periods are no fun but when it rains it pours. I scratch my head with you Western Bitters guys. No doubt the glass is great, people are the best etc...but man, suggest you look in an Easterly direction. There is an AMAZING community of Bitters Collectors and Bottles. Lots happening. I'm fortunate that I live in Texas and know most of the bitters group nationally. Why the Eastern group rarely ventures west or Western group east is the puzzle. I suppose it is distance and/or money. Anyway keep up the great work. I've got a box in the next room with a very desirable, rare, green semi-cabin with full labels. Not Western though I will survive. Can't wait for the sun to come up. Ferd

  2. Wait a minute, Ferd. Some of us go both ways, West and East, that is. Three of us did mange to make it to York a few years ago and visited with John Feldman and his fabulous collection. I'm a poor piker who has to dIi like it. Gotta hit the diggin' trail today. Lately, though, we have been into quantity rather than quality. That's what diggin' is, you take the chaff and hope to reap the wheat, as it were. Jeff's next auction will sure enough have a few "teeth rattlers" in it.

  3. You can fill up an entire room full of pre 1880s Eastern Bitters but try filling up even a box with pre 80s Western Bitters!

    Rick, have you ever thought of taking up a hobby with a renewable resource like fishing?

  4. OC...Yea I know some venture East...not many. That's certainly where I started... What opened my eyes was the Reno National. Can't say enough about how great that show was. Maybe another one on the horizon. I remember talking it up to some of the East crowd. It was like I was talking about the moon. Anyway, maybe I should be happy. Less competition. Already West Coast good guy sharks sighted on a regular basis (Bill T & H and Jerry F). Keeps it fun.

    Have fun digging. Missed that class. Not much of bottle anything in South Texas at this moment. Wish there was. Might help with the Bitters Blues.


  5. Oh yeah, the Reno National! I did very well selling Western Bitters and Whiskeys at that one. Much fun!

  6. I hear ya Rick in fact I've all but given up on trying to acquire any new Western bitters due to their scarcity and price in recent years. I was fortunate enough to have started collecting them some 30 years ago when availability and pricing were more within my reach and even more lucky to have dug some of the better ones.
    I think the trade off of living in that sweet little "backwater town" and not getting all the bottles you want is maybe just about as good as any embossed Western bitters on the planet.

    Oh yeah, he's already has takin up fishin!

  7. GP is correct, I have taken up fishing. I also am metal detecting, relic hunting, collecting gold rush belt buckles and 1911 pistols. A guy has to get his "Acquisition Fix" somehow.
    I have heard that the Golden Gate show had several western bitters change hands. A small letter Renz, Turner's square an aqua Wonser's alomg with 2 large size Hostetter's in different shades of green.
    GP... I also heard you are under the weather, get well soon!

  8. Not only has the acquisition blues got me, but the diggin' blues as well. The crappy rain has me pinned down, and with a "bomber" pit to dig it's killin' me. Killer permish on a house built in the early '70s and continuously lived in by the same family. The current resident is in his 80s and welcomed us to his nicely cared for yard. "Have at it, boys" he said, so we poked out a 7'X 7'priv. Luckily, it's between the lawn and a large shed, so there's plenty room for tarpage. You know how it goes, though. The longer you wait to dig it, the better the chance of the good 'uns to "escape". Rain, rain, go away!