Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lyon's Powder

Rick's thoughtful post about these beautiful little insect poison bottles urged me to show some of my small collection of them. Lyon's. Like Rick said, Lyon's Powders are found in nearly every city and town, but rarely in the gold camps of the Sierra. A few have been found along the Pony Express trail in upper El Dorado County, as well as in dumps from the many inns and toll stations that dotted the old road to Washoe. Vermin of all sorts were common to every place where the unwashed resided, but the rough and tumble residents of the high lonesome camps most likely took them in stride and were not likely to fork over hard won dust for a tiny bottle of supposed relief. In the more populated areas, where the locals were of a more fastidious nature, and cleanliness was next to Godliness, the product was in great demand. In the Valley, Sacramento and Marysville have produced these little gems in good numbers. Up country, you have Placerville, Auburn, Grass Valley, and Nevada City, all places that Lyon's turn up.

In the photo are examples of just a few of the many colors that open pontiled Lyon's Powders were blown in. The large size one is gasoline puce and was not dug in California. It came from Brooklyn, NY, a metropolis where many hundreds of these bottles were used and discarded. Thankfully, plenty of them survived to grace bottle collector's shelves.


  1. Nice grouping Mike, That is the 2nd one of the larger sizes I have seen, the other was straight amber. I have a small grouping of them as well, I wished I didn't sell my pontil ones years ago, I don't think I could replace them today. Dr.Barnes

  2. One interesting thing I noticed yrs ago, is that these bottles are also more prevalent in towns that have real sandy soil. Maybe more bugs in this type of soil?? I've found these and other types in SoCal coastal communities, and of course, in Sandy Francisco as well.
    Some of the others that came out along w/ the Lyon's were John Henry, Costars, and the slick aquas that are a little larger than the others.

  3. 'Yer right, AP. "Nippy" critters", 'cept skeeters, like sand and grass and do not like the mountains. Bedbugs and body lice were everywhere, just like today. Stay out of motels that are run by the "red dot crew".

    I have also dug Henrys and Costars, along with the occasional Schwerrin's in pits with Lyon's. So far, only one aqua smooth base Lyon's has shown up. I NEED a pontiled puce Costar's. I have seen those in large size, too.

  4. These really are a neat collectible- great colors and small size make them very desireable. Here in Vermont we find a few but we're partial to "Dutcher's Dead Shot for Bed Bugs" which served the same purpose.