Sunday, November 28, 2010


49er Bottle & Antique Show
Auburn California Dec. 3rd & 4th
Dec 3rd. Noon to 8pm
Dec 4th. 9am-3pm

I have been attending the Auburn Bottle Show for so long it seems like I have been doing it forever and it is at the top of my list of shows to attend. Auburn always boosts two buildings full of bottles, antiques, advertising and a place for old friends from the collecting hobby to get together to buy, sell or just enjoy each other’s company.

The amount of mid to high end bottles and collectables, in my opinion, available at Auburn out numbers any of the other "western" shows that I usually attend. For the last few years I have been purchasing a sales table at Auburn under the guise to sell a few things but in reality to enjoy the overall experience that Auburn seems to provide.

That "Auburn Experience" in the last two years has been diminished by what I consider an unacceptable problem, mainly the theft of dealers bottles. The last couple of years it seems like every other dealer I talked to lost one thing or another off of their table. I understand this is a "touchy" subject with the 49er Bottle Club and their attempt last year to correct the problem was also unacceptable. Announcing every five minutes for dealers to watch their tables, that something has been stolen or reminding dealers to not leave their tables is just plain bunk.

Heck, I was so jumpy about the theft problem, and constantly being reminded of it, that I had to darn near pay someone to watch my table while I went to the restroom. No one was leaving their table to visit or check out what other dealers had for sale. Dealers swapping or buying collectables from each other is a major part of every bottle show. It's hard to see what's available from other dealers when you are tied to a table.

I hope that the 49er club has discussed this problem and addressed the issue at their meetings. I don't expect an instant remedy to the problem but maybe the club can provide some security or even just some table sitters so us oldtimers can grab a cup of coffee or a restroom stop without wondering if our table will still be there when we get back.



  1. We are working on a solution, Rick, but it is virtually impossible to watch every table all the time. It is important for every one to keep an eye on their goods and that of their neighbors. I lost a Boley soda several years back at the same time Max had an MR stolen. The culprit was apprehended and Max had his bottle returned, but mine went away on fleaBay, never to be seen again.

    Table sitting is not a bad idea, but most aren't willing to sacrifice their precious time by helping others. Finding "volunteers" is like pulling teeth from a shark. Some people have asked to put bottles on my table, but will they hang out and watch to goods for a while? Nope, it's all about the hunt. Guess what? There will no freebies this time.

    Well see how the safety plans work out. There will most likely be a person parked outside the front door all night. See you there.

  2. I was waiting for someone to bring this up, again...... I don't mean to be critical here but this is an intolerable subject with me.

    Auburn has long been the most targeted bottle show for theft that I know of in all the U.S. and I'm a little taken back more hasn't been done. I've had bottles stolen off my table more than once here over the years. As dealers the best thing we can all do as Mike stated is: "for everyone to keep an eye on their goods and that of their neighbors", this is key.

    I know it's not an easy problem to deal with but the clubs past strategies have been of little to no deterrent. The only solution that will have any lasting effect is to take aggressive steps to apprehend and prosecute because simply watching isn't enough. Until the club decides to move in that direction I assure you the stealing will continue.

    I find it truly unfortunate that such a great show and club has to deal with crap like this. I've got a good possible remedy I'd like to discuss privately with club members in charge of security if interested.

  3. Yeah, I noticed many obvious "hard looks" as I walked around Auburn last year on the day of the show. Guess I looked like one of the local tweakers or something. Being the hub of the Gold Rush area drug culture has really changed the atmosphere of the show. I hadn't attended since 1992. The offerings were decidedly different as well from what I recalled finding years before. Instead of mostly SF Bay Area bottles, everything I saw (besides the high end bottles leftover from Friday's earlylookers) hailed from Sacto, Stockton and Fresno of all places. I'm sure not one to drive all the way to Auburn to look for Fresno druggists! Leave those at home! LOL

  4. How about a hidden video camera, or a video camera right out in the open? Or it might be time to put the heavier stuff inside a secure glass case, bring in TSA for pat downs and X-Rays, and simply just dress up like Walker Texas Ranger.

    The good news is that Auburn is always a fantastic show and 98% of the people there are at the show for the right reasons.

  5. This year I will be coming in Solo, I have a table rack I was loaned so I could make a little more room. I have shared my table many times with others, so a half table bites. Full table this time. I also picked up several plastic table covers from the 99 cent store to cover my table when I need to go to the restroom or just to take a break and look around. I figure if your neighbors see that your table is covered, then anyone screwing around looking under it or anything is doing something they are not supposed to be doing....So a Get Out of There would be most welcomed. I always watch my neighbors tables whether they know it or not, I hope they may watch mine too. I decided to do this as not to put any responsibility on anyone else, just be aware of your surroundings and don't be afraid to ask someone WTF! they are doing, you can always apologize if needed. The tweakers never blink, easy to spot. Just be aware and have fun. Dr.Barnes

  6. I have an opinion that I’d like to share and it is not directed specifically at the Auburn Show.

    As a dealer, I've always been one for a dealer setup period before letting the general public in. When is the best time for a thief to make a move? Well, you’ve seen it, buyers four deep at a dealer’s table while he's setting up. Guys are reaching through the crowd from the back or asking to have items passed back to them. Even if you have a helper keeping an eye out, this just makes it too easy for a scumbag to pocket something or walk off as if to "look at it outside". The dealer is completely distracted at this point trying to take payments, making change and wrapping. With a dealer setup period, dealers have better control of their table with a smaller crowd and can pace themselves accordingly right up until and after the public is allowed in.

    At least one hour of dealer setup time is in my opinion a courtesy to the dealers. Sure, some dealers will shop during this time, but that's their option. I know, I know, buyers complain that the dealers get all the good stuff before they are allowed in, but that's not entirely the case. Heck, much of the "good stuff" is spoken for before it even gets anywhere close to entering the building! It's the dealers that basically pay for the show through table rentals, so all considerations should go to them first and foremost and their opinions should be requested and seriously considered. I do commend the Auburn Show for requesting dealer input at the end of each show.

    One final comment: Once the majority of the dealers have unloaded their goods into a building, all doors other than the main entrance should be locked and used as emergency exits only. Late dealers can simply use the main entrance. I have seen it too many times at shows where people come and go through back doors, making it too easy for thieves to operate. It's a shame we have to look at these considerations, but it has become a reality.

  7. If I have anything to do with it the back doors will be securely locked at 1800. By that hour nobody has any business using those doors. The front door is good enough.

  8. Do I understand that you are locking all the other doors at 6pm Friday night. Isn't that kinda like locking the barn door after all the horses are out. I would think all other doors should be locked after dealers are let in to set up?

  9. The roll up and back doors in the uphill building will be shut at 2PM. I have signs to post indicating that they are not to be used except as emergency exits. The side and back doors are not accessible from the outside.

  10. Closing all doors except for the main entrance will have minimal effect at best in my opinion. It's the small items like sodas, meds, inks etc. which are most often stolen and then concealed. These kinds of item go right into a pocket or large carrying bag and will walk right out the main entrance undetected. The best offence is a good defense and like I said before the single best thing that could be done is to take agressive action to catch and prosecute which will send a much stronger message than all the above. Putting out signs, closing extra doors and watching others tables is great but that is not going to stop a thief. Watch for the bag shoppers and those with big pockets, if you catch someone it's critical that you detain them and call Auburn PD dispatch at (530) 823-4234. I can assure all thiefs out there that not all dealers will be as forgiving as others.
    I fully agree with IXL that dealers should be give on hour to set-up before the public enters. This alone would make a significant difference in the problem.

  11. The more I hear about an hour set-up for the dealers (before the early lookers etc. are let in) the more I like the idea. If an early looker thinks he mght miss out on a deal during the dealer set-up maybe he ought to buy a sales table. If he feels the early looker fee is worthless because of the hour dealer set-up then he can wait and go in with the rest of the folks.

    Yes a lot of deals are already struck before a show even opens but deals happen all the time. The show is usually a place to make the exchange.

    I will be in contact with the Downieville Show staff to try and put this one hour dealer setup into effect at our September show. We have tried a lot of different approaches to this early looker thing and yet to have found one that works for us.

    One other thing.. I am not sure when things get stolen at shows but it seemed like last year at Auburn it was happening all day long?

  12. How many shows have 150 tables? Try as we might, it ain't rocket science to figure out how difficult it is to police that many tables. We do what we can to prevent thievery, but basically, it is important that you eyeball your goods.