Wednesday, June 29, 2011

TV Show Coming Soon - The Death Of A Hobby

There has been chatter lately of the Discovery Channel contacting a few West Coast diggers and collectors regarding a bottle digging reality show.  I was shocked to hear that some are considering the idea and are in talks with the producers.  Personally I feel that nothing but harm will come from this and not only us but future generations (if our hobby is even still legal by then) will pay the price.  I could go on about all the negative consequences of a show like this, but I think most of you are well aware.  To others: Please proceed with caution, your passion is at risk.


  1. If anything it is the greed and dishonesty in your hobby that is killing it. How about the well known dealer that stole a saloon token from a well known digger at Auburn last year ? Or how about the repaired bottles that are sold under the radar. Or the damaged bottles that are sold as mint ? Until honesty is restored, kiss your dying hobby goodbye.



  3. Getting scammed once made me a more cautious collector!I kept the bottle as a reminder to not let it happen again.30 years and counting but it didn't kill my passion !

    Dan Turner

  4. Someone from one of these TV shows also recently made their rounds contacting insulator collectors looking for recruits. Seems the topic they're looking for involves dump digging for treasures. I agree, we need to put the word out that anyone considering any involvement with such a production would be literally selling us all out. This would just provide more ammo for the toothbrush and whisk broom guys to shut us down with their vindictive tactics.

    Saddle up the horses and put a call out to the posse, we may have some renegades amongst us!

    Dwayne "I'm not Anonymous" Anthony

  5. I certainly would not want to participate in any such "reality show". Others who did so rued the day that they were caught up in the web that these folks weave. It can invite attention from "unwanted persons" and like Dwayne said, give the "other side" more ammo to use against us. Do NOT be tempted!

  6. Hey ! Dan made-up name Turner,
    Do you really want to be part of TV show that is going to inflame/instigate the arks enough to push for an Oregonian law here in Ca. ?

  7. I have been out of the loop for awhile but I do know there are a lot of folks in the hobby looking for their 15 minutes of fame.

  8. Hey aphotaling,That would be no to that question and I hate reality tv !I would post my membership name but I can't figure the darn thing out !
    Dan my real name Turner

  9. Dan made-up/real name Turner is unfamiliar to me, but you seem to be "in the know" about the unfortunate events at our show last December. Try as we might, it is virtually impossible to police every dealer and customer who walks through the door.

  10. I'd love to know who the "push" is behind the sudden interest in persuing bottle/insulator collectors for inclusion on a treasure-hunting type TV show. This sort of show is certainly no draw in major viewer ratings nor in advertising dollars. The gist of it should any episodes be video-taped and shown would be to divide diggers from home-owners who watch the show and decide they have potential treasure buried in their yard if they own an old home and/or historic piece of property. And of course our "government" would like to separate us all from our money, land and anything else valuable they can claim after passing police state type laws.

  11. I too have heard, first hand, of plans to produce the so-called dump diggers treasure hunt.

    Speaking from experience, anyone who opts in is exposing themselves for future problems, and opening up a literal Pandora's box for their fellow diggers in whatever state they reside and or dig in.

    The Cash and Treasures on the Travel Channel segment is old news. But the damage done is here to stay. Through no fault of his own, a close friend of mine ran afoul of an Oregon law that had been, for the most part, overlooked for years. To quote Cheech and Chong; "Not any more man"!

    And Senate Bill (SB870), that I worked with Senator Bates in drafting, and which would have once again legalized digging on Oregon private property with permission, went down in flames this session. Trust me once the damage is done, and digging becomes a crime through the legislative process, it is virtually impossible to undo the deed.

    Think about it, the first person picked off on the front lines is the one with their head up the highest. Me, I keep a low profile and go about whatever it is I do in the shadows. Who needs the publicity, and the headaches that go along with it.

    If you are approached, think of another way to bask in your 15 minutes of fame. You owe it to yourself, and to the future generations of bottle diggers and collectors to stay under the radar. My suggestion, if approached, is to "Just Say No!".


  12. I was going to make a post about this a couple of days ago but didn't .However I changed my mind .
    Do you think that a show about bottle collecting (digging) would generate some new collectors? Heaven knows the hobby needs new collectors or all the treasured bottles won't be worth the effort if in the future nobody cares about them. Do you think maybe someone who sees this show and owns property and can't dig themselves would make a deal with a digger for a cut of the treasure . Make contract first as to cut and digger gets first choice .
    50% of something is better than 100% of nothing .
    I would like to see more new stuff ,don't think we have seen it all yet. More diggers would (should) bring more items to the marketplace .Do the present group of diggers think they can find all the holes and get them dug?
    I agree with Bruce about the Oregon law .Maybe if all the older property owners thought they have treasure on their property they would band together and get the law off the books .
    Anyway no death threats please . It's just when I see a one sided argument it make me think of Lemmings .

  13. It just sounds like a Bad Idea all the way around. Reeks of Ulterior Motives, its hard enough now, this kinda stuff will cause many issues by the shovelful. Low Profile Mi Amigos. Dr.Barnes

  14. I can see the point about promoting our hobby, but feel there can be positive success with promoting the hobby of bottle collecting, without involving the sensitive issues of bottle digging. For some collectors they go hand and hand, but for many collectors out there, a probe & shovel play no part in collecting bottles.

    I was recently approached by Time Warner cable to do a short bit on bottle collecting. I made it clear to the interviewer that we would not discuss bottle digging. The short segment went together well, promoting antique bottle collecting, the interesting shapes and purposes of the bottles' contents, references to our bottle club, etc.

    So, my point is, we can certainly continue to promote bottle collecting without endangering the future for those enjoying the digging aspect of it. Once a new collector is hooked, they will inevitably be exposed to the digging segment of the hobby and continue in that direction if they so please.

  15. I'd love to present a double sided argument, but that can be left for the monetarily motivated blogs and the archaeologists. The way I see it, there are only two major motives for one to participate in such a TV show. The first is for the measly amount (in the neighborhood of an initial $200 per episode) the production crew will pay the 'actors’ and the second is the pure vanity of the participants and their desire to be on TV. The show will only present one clear motive for digging: MONETARY GAIN. If bottles had no value, there would be absolutely no mainstream audience for such a show. For example, look at Antiques Roadshow, or American Pickers, what do you see at the bottom of the screen after each acquisition……DOLLAR SIGNS. I’ve been pounding the streets knocking doors long enough to experience the consequences of such television shows. I have been denied permission to dig because certain property owners were experts on ‘valuable antique bottles’ after seeing one of the previous Travel Channel episodes. I have also had bottles taken from me after homeowners ran into to Google it. Due to the limited number of previous episodes, damage has been minimal, but a series on bottle digging can and will obviously present a false reality on the all too often marginal rewards of most digging outings. Do you really think they will show the days when the best bottle is a bromo seltzer, or two unembossed apothecaries and flash $5 on the bottom of the screen ??? Showing the world that one can go dig a bottle worth thousands of dollars will only convince property owners to either find it themselves, or hover over the pit the entire dig and police any good finds. It will also create flash in the pan diggers who will dig with the sole motive to make money and disrespect private property and people on the way. The sad truth is that anyone who thinks they can make a dollar are in for a rude awakening, will burn out quickly, and contribute nothing to the hobby. A new collector that is motivated by the passion of the hunt and a deep love for 19th century history is what we really need.

    I agree that more bottles need to be brought to the marketplace and I agree that the hobby needs rejuvenation, but a reality show is just not the answer. Why don’t the older experienced diggers/collectors open their knowledge bank and take new diggers under their arm, give them deals, show them non-ABD towns, non-ABD pits. That is the only way to create a new breed of collectors. Personally I could care less about the value of bottles and wished they were worthless.

  16. For some reason I just don't seen any older diggers taking out new people and showing them the ropes so to speak. When I was 19 I tried very hard to get the local privy diggers to take me out digging. I spent two years trying to get them to take me privy digging. I was already an experienced dump digger at the time. I had read about privy digging and wanted to find early bottles.

    Well after getting several false promises to take me out on a dig. I finally got fed up and got together with another local dump digger I made a probe and we went into the city and lucked into a loaded pontiled pit behind an abandoned house. Over the next week we found and dug two more good pontiled privies in the same part of town.

    I was hooked and soon after invited to dig with the two most experienced privy diggers in the city.

    My whole point of this is that most privy diggers don't like to make new diggers they want everything for themselves. And it seems to me that most active diggers are very secretive and will be the first ones to say that there isn't much money to be had by digging for bottles.

    My question is that if its not about money then why all the secrecy? Why all the worry? Its plain and simple that its much nicer to go out and dig a rare bottle for your collection then having to shell out thousands in hard earned cash.

    I think a digging TV show will do many things, exposing many new people to the hobby making new collectors and making good bottles more valuable. It will also create more competition for digging sites. And piss off some archaeologists. This is a double edged sword we are dealing with. But personally I know I'm one of the youngest members of my bottle club and most members are old enough to be my father or grand father. This hobby needs an injection of new younger blood. And I think a show like this might actually do that.

  17. When the Downieville Show was in its infancy, back in the early 1990’s, I used to make a point of taking fellow collectors and dealers, that showed up a day early, out digging here in the Downieville area.

    It always was a lot of fun and we divided the finds up among the diggers that participated that day. After a couple of years of the “pre show digs” I noticed some of the diggers I had taken to sites around this area started to show up, at all times of the year, and dig the same sites without even bothering to give me a call or to invite me along on the dig.

    I guess I was being a little naïve, or maybe just plain stupid, but it sure fried my ass that someone I invited to share an adventure with would be greedy or disrespectful enough to finish a spot I turned them on to.

    These are the same kind of people that jump your permissions, never invite you on their permissions and are willing to sell out for their “15 minutes of fame” When was the last time a fellow collector, of this caliber, called to say hi or shoot the breeze without wanting something from you. In my opinion, our hobby sure doesn’t need anymore of this type of collector.

    A lot of the comments made on this subject have been indirectly aimed at the value of their collection depreciating if we don’t get any new collectors into the hobby. I wonder if these folks are collecting for the love of the glass, its beauty and history or as an investment or hedge against inflation. Makes you kind of wonder if the “heavy collectors” are sitting on a commodity with no market are running scared and need to foster potential buyers. I’d bet a good western square they sure as hell don’t want a half dozen of something rare in their collection popping out of a recent dig. Maybe a half dozen new to the hobby collectors, that don’t dig, but with deep pockets might just be what the doctor ordered. Or is it?

  18. Sharing old bottles and their History with others is one of my favorite things to do. And whether I'm talking with advanced collectors/diggers or folks who have never imagined such a hobby, my passion continues to grow. A TV show about digging and collecting is a rather harmless and fun idea in theory, BUT there are indeed some key things one should consider before signing the big deal:
    -Who is behind the documentary/show? And who is pulling the strings?
    -Why is there such an interest in finding out more about bottle digging and collecting?
    -Would the focus of the show be on History and Adventure, or Cash and Treasure?
    -What will the reaction of the general public be? To what degree does it matter?
    -Is this good for the growth and knowledge of the hobby? Are there better alternatives?
    -Who would be representing the digging/collecting community in such a proposed TV show? Are they mindful and responsible ambassadors for the bottle collecting/digging community at large?

    After a show is broadcast, there is no going careful & mindful of what we wish for or against, while keeping in mind the relationship between Glory & Consequence.

    Food for thought....

    My personal gut reaction is a TV show such as this would bring about more harm and negative attention than good. But if it is as good or better than the previous cash & treasures shows, then it can be a positive thing -- much of the final effects come down to the purpose & focus of the show, as well as WHO the actors are and HOW they potray the digging & collecting scene. Also, what lengths are the producers willing to go in the dangling of carrots and sticks in order to get the actors to play along for external motivating rewards versus staying true to the intrinsic motivation that most of is share for WHY we collect and/or dig.

  19. Ahhh, the "I am not concerned about value",or "I don't care what bottles are worth" comments return.
    Fact is, anything which is desired by a human being has value...there is no denying it. If value does not matter, why is there such demand? What did the N. Grange sell for a couple of years ago? I think it sold for dollars if I am not mistaken. Basically dug for little cost ( of course much research, and effort), and sold for money.
    I for one dig almost weekly, and have for decades in states which allow it. I also purchase recently dug, or found bottles for my collection. I also trade with other collectors who both dig, and do not, as well as attend shows. There are all types of collectors, but they are all just as legitimate as the next. The problem is putting the spotlight on digging. I can tell you this is both a nightmare and a blessing. I have not been denied even one permission because of the TV shows, but have had property owners hover over the hole and running in the house to get on ebay, or Google a find. Believe me, Youtube puts all bottle diggers in jeopardy more than almost any TV show. Have you seen the video's of the profane, unethical, drinking diggers representing our hobby for anyone with a computer to view?
    My opinion is to nix any additional programs which highlight digging for bottles, and every one of us should mentor two more bottle collectors for our hobby to not only survive, but thrive...I have.

  20. When I started digging for old bottles in 1980 with my metal detecting buddy, No One would share any info Period. I came to call my first few years of trying to figure it all out, The Great Bottle Wars of 1980. We were surrounded by Dishonest Greedy Types who did many un-ethical acts to keep any competition at bay. The idea was to do whatever it took to get the bottles, you name it, I have witnessed it. You name the Object and if 2 or more want it, it comes down to What is Your Greed Level? I started selling my bottles to be able to buy other bottles I wanted for my collection. Down here in Dago, we are at the asshole of California, so the pickings are slim for good western stuff. Since I was hurt at work, I now sell to Buy beans to feed the beast (Me). There are No Saints in the Bottle World. As I get older I realize more and more that I like some of the bottles, but, I like the fun of the hunt more. It is getting harder and harder to enjoy the fun of the hunt, lots of competition, bad blood, trust issues. Yeah, its not quite as fun as it used to be. I am glad I have some good memories of better times. This TV Show stuff is all about Ego to me and then throw in some $$ figures and it mixes up to just a Bad Dream. We will see I guess? Most people know I collect Jamaica Gingers, I have never dug one except the one AT and Gary W. salted my hole with when we were digging one time. I was Jacked Up, I was so excited till I realized I had been had,we all laughed about it, rascals! Does anyone else out there get excited about digging just a bottle anymore? Rick

  21. In the 1980s and earlier anyone with average intelligence could figure out how to dig for old bottles. Nowadays with limited non-abd doorknocks, archs, and a sue-happy society, no new digger is going to stick with it unless he is helped from a veteran.

  22. Not true, I am a child of this hobby,3rd Gen. digger/hunter. Those who know me, know that I'm one of the most devoted diggers out there today, and I'll say that researching places to dig takes more work then digging. For the last 20 or so years (by reserach)I have found a large amount of places to go hunting at any given time. I have more places to dig then you can shake a stick at. Now, I like taking people out with me, but the few that have can't get up and down the canyons like I can anymore. I'm half the age of most of you (not to be mean). I try to get young guys and gals out for the experience of digging history, and most love it. But I think that there is an age where we can spark a childs interest in collecting bottles or hunting for history. I've been the young kid for a long time now, I would love to see more young blood.
    As for the greed goes. I have a bother and an uncle how are the greedest people I know, and they both collect bottles. (nothing but love for them) I've come to learn you have to deal with those at their level or not at all. We are all human.

  23. Too bad the majority of serious diggers are not on this site to protest. I'd say that about %90 of collectors got their start with digging. What most collectors don't realize is that the hobby will die if digging dies, end of story. Let the selfish bastardos go on tv, just better hope I don't see them in my town.

  24. Many of us old "bastardos" got our start digging way back in the late 1950s and early '60s when the hobby was in it's infancy and the sites were wide open. A few of us have carried on and continue to dig. Sharing the knowledge that we carry from learning the hard way comes with a price. Numerous times opening my trap has cost me dearly, so, as a result, I am not so apt to do so. It is not too late to get into the hobby, although there are fewer easy digs remaining. It takes diligent researching and pouring over old maps and documents in libraries and archives. Today, for every hour we spend digging, an average of eight are spent looking at musty records. No longer is it a cakewalk. We find ourselves cold calling and door knocking on total strangers doors, trying to explain what we do to someone who often has no clue. "You want to what"? is the reply that more often than not is the result of our query. Sometime you just have to laugh at the situation and try your best to convince them that you are serious. Here I am, a 65 year old burned out has been, still out there hammering on folks doors on a weekend morning. Well, not lately, but soon's this "thing" is gone I plan to be back at it. If it wasn't so bloody hot over here in the Valley this fool would be out there, masked up and gettin' after it.

    Nah, no TV in this 'hood. Those folks wouldn't like the "vista" from the areas we haunt. Bangers and dope crews are prevalent, but we pay 'em no mind and they don't bother with some crazy bottle diggers pokin' holes and flingin' dirt on their turf. You do what 'ya gotta do, regardless of the situation.

    Keep on diggin' on, it's what we do.

  25. boy i could use the money and you know the chicks like it dirty

  26. yes, it looks like the producer have chosen the 'brothers' to represent the west coast digging circuit

  27. Merchantqueen said.....

    I recall when the Travel Channel was at the Saratoga bottle show when it was actually in Saratoga. They were talking to a digger and overheard me talking about our recent dig to one of the guys and obviously too close to the show people. I mentioned we had a cave in and the travel show people were on us like flies on fly paper. We skirted around the cave in issue when they ran over to talk to us and thankfully never ended up on the show.

    I can see both sides perspectives wanting to get new people / fresh blood interested in bottle collecting as we're constantly trying to promote the hobby ourselves. But on the flip side you need to go about it a certain way and I don't think a digging show will do that. I agree home owners will start thinking they have gold burried on their properties....look at what happened to antiques once the Antiques Roadshow and American Pickers started, everyone thinks they have expensive stuff and it's just cheap junk or it's ok stuff but they want 10 times it's value. Or in the case of bottles they look in the Koval's book which we all know is way off the mark.

    We've been approached by people to show them how to dig but they have their own sites and are willing to have us teach them at their sites.

    I think the fear of sharing dig sites comes from people being burned by others or they've heard about others being burned once they've shared their site information.

  28. This post is by far the most commented on subject since the inception of this blog. Although I do not understand all the ramifications that a television show on digging would have on the hobby, I believe I understand what all the other “reality” shows have set their sights on, the audience.

    American Pickers, Pawn Stars, American Restoration, Sons of Guns ad nausea are all about the leading characters relationship with each other and the customers – clients that they encounter. Sure they play up the value of objects that they find, purchase or are brought into their businesses, but the main focus is on the interaction between the main players. Ie: Pops and his son fatty and his grandson big fatty and big fatty’s stupid friend that they humiliate and play practical jokes on.

    Do you think these producers would consider a program on bottle digging that would feature how Mike and Howard have been digging partners and friends for years and have a greedy partner that they can’t seem to pin any foul play on, or some such other nonsense would appeal to the folks that are bankrolling the production of a television show.
    Do you think anyone would care to watch it.

    Maybe if these “producers” read some of the bottle blogs they would go running as far away from the digging hobby as possible. Heck, they already have the same kind of drama programmed every afternoon that’s right here on the bottle blogs.

  29. Good point Rick. Another aspect is the cost of filming. The producers have no concept of the extremely low dig-to-find ratio. They'll probably have to film at least 20 digs before finding a semi-decent bottle worthy of flashing dollars around ! From a production standpoint, that's prohibitively expensive.

  30. I just found this post googling privy digging. I am still scratching my head here. I understand the fear of legislation against our great addiction of relic and treasure hunting but don't follow your logic. One way to combat the redundant archaeologist and socialist squirrels is by having a voice to reach the masses that a TV program well conceived would bring you and this hobby/addiction. The fear of your collection loosing value and this great addiction going the way of the dinosaur is repeated again and again through this thread yet your reaction to a TV program and your fears illustrate why this addiction is threatened to go the way of the dodo.

    My Temerity Magazine promotes and encourages any and all to join the ranks of relic and treasure hunters. Yes, some should not be let near a site, and it is a higher percentage than I care to wrap my head around, but I also know the cream rises to the top and we can police our own pretty well in our own areas. A good reputation opens doors and a bad one closes doors in a hurry.

    I still do not understand this reaction or fear. You are going to have to fill me in if you don't think I am seeing the big picture here. I do understand politics, numbers and the influence needed to move mountains when assaulted by opposition. Is it a fear of educating the property owners of what they have or potentially could have? If this is the reason for this fear or opposition you have to get over that quick here. It is the partnership a relic and treasure hunter has with their property owners that gift us with so much. They give us the opportunity to do what we love and they will be our best advocates when we have to circle the wagons and defend ourselves. It is the property owner that is the key to defeat the archaeologists greed. If you stand on the side of property rights and owners, we have the numbers to dissuade any assault.