Monday, June 14, 2010

Continued finds from old homestead.

Some of the more interesting bottles to have been unearthed during the past week.

(6 broken Voldner's Schnaaps were found, the Vonthofeu's Aromatic Schnaaps has an iron oxide pontil mark)
(the Lyon's Powder, N.Y. is a true puce color, the nicest medicine found was the Merchants Gargaling Oil / Lockport, NY)

Recent finds from old homestead.

Recently 4 bottle collector/diggers got together and dug 4 holes in an old ranch/homestead in Northern California.

(2 of the beers have S. F & PGW embossed on the base)
(4 bitters were found intact, 1 black glass Hostetters found broken)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Here is the BIG one! Just Dug...

Here are two great Western medicines fresh out of the ground from a Western state. The "smaller" of the two is still an impressive 8 1/2" tall with a rich turquoise aqua color. It has a knarly applied top, and is embossed "Dr. Warren's Botanic Cough Balsam, S.F. Cal." These are pretty rare in this size and with the applied top. I would estimate there are about 10-12 in collections. In the same pit was this "tanker" of a sarsaparilla. The diggers originally thought it was just a cool Eastern Bristols or Kennedy's, but the glass is sparkling western aqua and clean as can is embossed "Langley's Compound Sarsaparilla, San Francisco". What a giant bottle, and in perfect condition! It is hard to believe such a large bottle would come out whole, let alone in such pristine condition. I believe there are about 10 of these Langley's in collections, and they are not to be confused with the very scarce narrow medicine version. This example is a whopping 11 1/2" tall.These do come in green, and I have seen one example, though it was not crude. These are late 60s bottles, and are so rarely dug, it is an exciting find! Full of bubbles and character...this is what gets my blood pumping!

American Bottle Auction # 50

A Quick Review
HIBERNIA BITTERS. 1886-90 Tooled top. There are a couple variants of this western bottle. This one being the later of the two. This form is not uncommon to western glass. A light to medium amber, these are fairly scarce. Grade: 9.5. $ 200 Not as exciting or as rare as the two name variant Hibernia but still a decent price for a pretty hard to obtain western square.

DR. RENZ’S HERB BITTERS. Applied mouth. R-37. Looking at this bottle, I couldn’t help but think there was something a little different about it. It finally dawned on me that it is the large letter variant, however, the “R’s” are not curved. I then found in the Ring/Ham book, a variant that matches this bottle. Thank goodness for books! One can only guess why. Was it eastern made? At any rate, the bottle is very dark chocolate amber. It has a huge top and aside from a couple super tiny open bubbles, and I mean inconsequential bubbles, this one is a Grade: 9.7. This is a tough color and the rare variant to boot. It’d look great next to your green one. $ 500
This is the second variant of the Renz bitters and possibly as early as 1870. Yes, it has big letters and straight legged “Rs”. The last variant of the Renz has large letters and curved “Rs” Typical price for this bottle.

CASSIN,S GRAPE BRANDY BITTERS. Applied mouth, C-78. 1866-75. Here is a terrific example of the first variant of the highly acclaimed and very desirable Cassin’s Bitters. The confusion on which variant was made first in our opinion, arises from the fact that the apostrophe in the word “CASSIN,S” is used as a comma on this bottle. If this was the second variant and the improved design, how could they miss a flaw so obvious? There is a dime size bruise at the end of the word “brandy” it’s simply a pressure type ding with no missing glass. When one considers the rarity of not only this bottle. But the color variant and overall crudity, we would have to consider this certainly one of the finest bottles in this sale. Color does not get much better than this; we would call it a brilliant citron. The entire bottle itself is crooked and the top is extremely crude. This was sold by American Bottle Auctions in the Grapentine sale and is now being re-offered. Here is your chance to own what are arguably the most desirable western bitters. No Grade. $ 7,500
I looked at this bottle for quite a while before it went to auction and I believe the “pressure type ding” was an in-making flaw done at the factory. The longer I looked at this bottle the more I liked it. A great piece of glass blown and marketed right here in the west! This bottle sold in the earlier Grapentine auction for, basically, the same price. For someone that wanted a Cassin’s, I believe, it was a fair price.

DR. WONSER’S U.S.A. INDIAN ROOT BITTERS. Applied top, W-146. 1871-73. Here’s another favorite for collectors of bitters, whether you’re from the east or west. And why not? Who can’t resist a bottle with a name like this and a shape that is not only handsome, but unique in its category. This example is a solid Grade: 9.5 with good overall light crudity and a great strike. If one were to be picky, you could point out a rock the size of a pin, which is stuck in the side of the glass. We are talking the size of a germ. The overall bottle is as nice as they come in this color and if you don’t have a Wonser’s, this might be the one. This came from a longtime collection and is fresh to the market.
$ 10,000 Your basic Wonser’s for a pretty standard price.

MILLS BITTERS A.M. GILMAN SOLE PROPRIETOR. 11 1/2". 1874. We had the wrong estimate in the catalog and apologize for that. These bottles are unusual in that most are found in Arizona of all places and they are always in need of cleaning. We’ve seen none that didn’t have some reaction to the soil; this one is no exception. Recently cleaned by Lou Lambert. The Mills are one of the few western lady’s legs, if not the only one. You can’t really count the Bryant’s. Regardless,an exceptional western bottle. Because of the glass, I suppose there is some question as to where they were made. There is no reason they weren’t simply made in San Francisco, as Gilman is listed as a merchant there in 1876. These are a tough bottle to find, small lip chip. This example was found in the San Francisco Bay Area. Grade: 8.7 $ 800 This bottle did not meet reserve. Strange cause it’s a pretty rare bottle but I guess not as desirable as rare.

BRYANT’S STOMACH BITTERS. B-242. 14". 1857. If you’ve been following our website, you might have seen a story on a group of Bryant’s cones recently unearthed in Sacramento. Although most were simply bases or partial pieces of the bottle, this one in particular had the least amount of damage. We will be showing before and after photographs. Of the three or four whole specimens, none that we’ve seen are in this brilliant emerald green. Marty Hall did the work and without extremely close inspection, it’s very difficult to tell it has been repaired. Considered by many to be the top western bitters, it is no doubt one of the top few. These were made in the east and were primarily distributed in the west. Here is your chance to own a true classic in a unique color. No Grade. $ 36,000 Hmm... a lot of money for a broken bottle with an epoxy base.

LOUIS TAUSIG & CO SAN FRANCISCO CAL. Applied top. This bottle we are including in the bitters section, because we know it was a bitters. Tausig was actually a well-known liquor merchant, but like many wholesalers of his day, he dabbled in whatever made him money. This is a neat bottle with the applied top. There is a bit of a mold leak on the neck seam. Grade: 9.5. $ 230 A nice western square for a fairly reasonable price.

DR. HENLEY’S WILD GRAPE ROOT BITTERS IXL. Applied ring. Here we have another one of the favorite western bitters. Henley was a busy man and produced numerous products during his interesting life. The IXL bitters was by far his most successful product and sold for nearly forty years. This example is a nice medium aqua with lots of bubbles and light crudity. A solid example. Grade: 9.8. $ 220 An entry level Henley’s in a common color.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

San Diego Antique Bottle & Collectibles Show & Sale

June 12, 2010 - 9:00AM

Al Bahr Shrine Temple, 5440 Kearny Mesa Road, San Diego, CA 92111
San Diego 2010 Antique Bottle & Collectibles Show & Sale

Saturday June 12, 2010

At the Al Bahr Shrine Temple, 5440 Kearny Mesa Road, San Diego, CA 92111

Dealer Set-up 7:30 AM

Early Bird 8 AM ($10)

General Admission 9 AM - 3 PM ($2)

INFO: Jim Walker 858-490-9019 / /

Support you local bottle show.... The Western Bitters News Does!

The State of the Blogs

The latest post “Two Name Bear” on the whiskey blog got me to thinking not only about the state of this here bitters blog but the general overall condition of our hobby.

Miller’s Extra’s opening comment on his “Two Name Bear” post, and I quote, “It seems like few collectors are in the mood to post anything lately, but myself. Not sure why, maybe folks are "going underground" for some reason” sums up what is happening to the bottle blogs lately.

I might have a clue to the lack of interest and participation in the blog sites. With the nation’s economy pretty much in the toilet and our local economy in shambles my earning power, as a self employed building contractor, has evaporated. It now takes a lot more of my time to try and keep my business on track than it did when times were flush. A few years ago I was turning down work, now I am devoting a lot of the time I spent on my love of the bottle hobby trying to make a living. Things have changed so drastically that I am now changing occupations after 40+ years in a business that provided well for our family. To make a long story short, at the present time, I am focused on my future. My collecting interests, unfortunately, are on the back burner.

Other reason's for the presumed “lack of interest” in the bottle blogs is it’s finally summer. After a “normal’ winter (that lasted until the end of May) folks are outdoors celebrating the beautiful weather rather than sitting in front of a computer reading opinionated comments from disgruntled bottle collectors. Anyone that digs bottles is taking advantage of the wet winter and the extended digging season. An old digging buddy from Dobbins is busy putting a late garden in the ground and already working on next winter’s firewood. Another friend from Auburn has been so busy working to keep the foothills in power this spring he hardly has time for anything else. And so it goes, it’s the time of year that almost everyone is busy with one thing or another.

Another aspect of the bottle blogs that has received mixed reactions are the negative and sometime vulgar comments by anonymous bloggers. Some of the followers of the bottle blogs think that we should censure or prohibit anonymous bloggers from adding comments to the posts. I have always felt a person has the right to speak his mind and express what he or she believes in. These rights are guaranteed to all Americans and I don’t feel that the bitters blog is a place to deny anyone the right to say what he feels. As one of the administrators of the bitters blog I will continue to let anonymous bloggers comment on articles that are posted on this site.

A recent comment by an anonymous blogger “I think the blogs (and hobby) are dying due to a few bad apples who can't keep their mouth or minds shut. It’s sad and I think it is going to hurt the hobby in the long run with less new collectors entering the hobby. Oh well, its fine with me, cheaper bottles will be the result. I predict a gradual crash in the western bottle market, although the eastern/western appeal of bitters will fare better.” deserves a response. In my opinion, the bottle hobby is stronger than ever. Take a look at the realized prices in the last American Bottle Auction # 50 and take into consideration the unstable economics’, the uneasy “feeling” we are experiencing and the beginning of a beautiful summer and you can understand the temporary waning of the interest in the bottle collecting hobby in general and the bottle blogs in particular.

That’s my take on bottle collecting, at this point in time, and this supposed blog debacle and I’m sticking to it. Can't wait to see all of your smiling faces at the Reno Bottle Show in July!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

What can I say...

Amber Tooled Lip Bitters California Circa 1875

Item number: 150452393376

bottle is printed federal law forbid sale or reuse
measures 7 inches S.F. 65.59 on bottle
some dirt inside but should clean nicely.

I know, a picture's worth a thousand words.

So how about two thousand.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Small Hoss Dug

Here is a nasty crude small Hostetters Stomach Bitters which was recovered from the Earth in the past few weeks. These are about as crude a bottle as you can find, and each one is different. They range in color from pure black which one cannot see through, to a forest green. The lip, and panels are often so poorly made (thankfully!) that you wonder about the quality control on these early bitters. Every one I have seen is this way, and like the typical "black" ales and cylinders found throughout the West, each is unique. I cannot help but wonder if they were made by the same glasshouses which made these "blacks". The color, crudity, and high iron content of the glass is so similar.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Need a Cundurango?

Here's One for the Bitters hall of shame:





Ebay Starting bid: US $500.00

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

High Country Diggers Beware!

You always know it's spring up here in the high country when these hungry guys start making a nuisance of themselves. By the looks of this yearling he could use a few square meals.

Some Weekend Finds

As most of you know undisturbed Gold Rush camp sites are as about scarce as hen's teeth anymore. Three of us old timers managed to stumble across a remote camp site while doing a little gold prospecting over the weekend. Here's a few pictures of our finds.
The crier's included a 31 ounce black Hostetter's, an early amber Hostetter's and two variant 1 Dr. Henley's Wild Grape Root IXL Bitters.