Saturday, July 30, 2011


This years Downieville Bottle Show is slated for the weekend of September 10th.

The festivities kick off on Friday afternoon with a wine tasting event followed by a western style barbecue at the "Old Downieville Brewery" and home of Rick & Cherry Simi on Main Street. All show dealers and their guests are welcome at the tasting and BBQ.

The wine tasting event is hosted by Will Clark of 49er Wines and features wines from the California gold country. The tasting lasts from 5:00 pm until we start serving the BBQ dinner around 7:00 pm. if you are planning to attend the Downieville show don't miss this popular Friday night "kick off" to Saturday's Bottle Show and Sale. For those of you who are staying in Sierra City-we have arranged for a shuttle to bring you to the BBQ and then take you back to your motels. No worries about driving on Hwy 49 for you! Please email me to let me know if you are staying in Sierra City and we'll make sure you are on the shuttle list.

We will be setting up the show venue and display cabinets on Friday afternoon and dealers are welcome to drop off their sale merchandise during Friday afternoon. Warren Friedrich is once again coordinating the bottle display and Warren has quite a few rare and important western bottles from prominent western collections featured in this year's display. There is also a lot of interest in early digging pictures and we are planning a display to feature your photos! Bring a couple of digging photos and we'll post them on the board for comments and discussion. Fun memories to share about some great digging adventures!

Dealer setup on Saturday September 10th. is from 7:00 to 8:00 am. Early lookers can enter the show from 8:00 am to 10:00am for a $10 early looker fee. After 10am admission is free.

The Downieville Fire Auxiliary will be serving a full breakfast and lunch menu during the show and sale on Saturday for those of you that wish to eat at the show.

If it's your first time attending the Downieville Show-expect to slow down and step back into time in this quaint little gold rush community It's the perfect setting for an old-fashioned, down-home Bottle Show and Sale.

We'll see you here in Downieville!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

14 Bottles of Sage's on the Wall

More Retro Pictures

Here are some photos of a once in a lifetime dig.
The pressure around Grass Valley Digging was too intense in 1991 so we moved on to greener pastures. Little did we know what a great decision that would be. We dug several holes and a large dump. The 1st hole under the rock cap yielded a Daly’s and a pontilled Lediards stomach bitters.

Things got better as we opened up a large dump in the commercial zone. The 1st picture shows the outline of a metal 5 gallon bucket with the ends of 3 sages pacific congress waters showing. All total 14 rolled out in about 10 minutes and I was too excited to get more photos. When I came to I was able to photograph a Green Cunderango in the layer and then a small letter Renz’s.

That was not everything and I have more photos of old digs but I don't want to bore everyone with my stories
Cal 49er MAX BELL

Monday, July 25, 2011


Here's a couple more blasts from the past

The bottles to the left all came out of one dig.

Here's a layer picture of a Dr. Renz's Herb Bitters.

Thanks to Cal49er for the pictures.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Mike & Jeff


Richard, John & Dwayne

Ken. Cory & Mike

Blake & the soleagent

Another Classic Picture

Dan, Max and a gold rush square.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Long ago, in a western ghost town.

Alright Dale, you shamed me into it...

Back when I had lots of hair, and it was all brown, we had more brawn than brains. We'd located a town-site in a certain western locale, tracked down the owners, (who resided in yet another certain western locale), and received written permission to dig. Armed with a few faded photos of the camp in it's heyday, we located several promising spots from high up on a mine tailing that overlooked the town and marked them with irrigation flags.

The first spot we chose to dig was up on a flat knoll. The ca. 1907 picture clearly showed a number of wood floor & frame - canvas stretcher tent structures surrounding what looked like (what?)... a duck pond. No evidence of any duck pond remained but the probes and metal detectors went nuts. The photo shows us around noon the first day. We dug test holes that ultimately revealed an area about 20 feet across and over six feet deep at the center. If it was considered garbage in 1910, this is where it ended up.

We dug this site for two summers and pulled out literally hundreds and hundreds of bottles; most of which were slick AB beers and the like...

Dig on. The next one of these might, just might, date from the eighties~

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Can You Imagine?

I thought I would try to change it up a bit and actually attempt to bring some positive energy and excitement to the blog.

This is what it is all about for me...check out this stack of Glass! The photo is from the 70s was a monster privy absolutely loaded with early glass. This was in the days before digital cameras and cell phones when it was quite an effort to grab the Kodak and snap a few photos, then take the film to the Fotomat, and hope for the best. Some of the younger diggers probably have no idea what I am talking about...sorry. I would have had a heart attack looking at these squares, and cylinders! Every digger has experienced the excitement of "hitting the layer" many times, but digs like this come only a few times in most bottle digger's lives.


They just gotta still be out there...

Monday, July 18, 2011


I guess I don’t spend enough time following (or should I say monitoring) the Western Bitters News site. Yesterday afternoon I sat down and really read the comments posted under the blog “LETS GET READY FOR RENO” and was shocked at the accusations and innuendos thrown at two prominent western collectors and dealers.

I had not heard of the “token issue” that supposedly took place at the Auburn show back in December of 2010 so it took me a while to figure out who the two Redding bottle dealers were. I still haven’t figured out who the diggers (owners?) of the token are, and from the tone of the comments, don’t care to ever find out.

It’s one thing to have a disagreement over a purchase, or in this case an accusation of theft, at a show or in a private transaction, but it’s going way over the top to bring an issue like this on to a worldwide internet site dedicated to the advancement of the bottle collecting hobby. These disagreements should be settled between the parties involved and not in a public forum.

Like I said earlier I do not know the circumstances of the accusations or innuendos but I sure know the two dealers/collectors from Redding. Both of the Redding guys have been in the bottle collecting hobby for over forty years (that I know of) and I have bought and sold with them, have been on digging trips with them and they have stayed here at my house during the Downieville Bottle Show.
If I had any questions about their integrity I never would have bought collectables from them, let alone let them stay at my home. I can’t say the same for the diggers/owners because I don’t know who they are.

If you know these Redding guys then you know they don’t generally use computers and are not in the position to defend themselves here on the bitters site. I want to make it clear that I am not defending them (because I am not privy to the circumstances) but I will never allow a public lynching of a person’s reputation here on this site. I believe both parties are at fault. The accusers should never have brought this to a public forum and the accused should have settled the disagreement before it reached public knowledge.

I have always believed that the Western Bitters News was a place that folks interested in collecting western bottles could share their knowledge, passion and recent finds with other collectors interested in collecting antique bottles. I do not believe this site is a place to air your dirty laundry.

I have pretty much given the bottle community a free hand on this site to post information and make comments on what other collectors have posted. Early along we had a problem with foul language on the site but that seemed to clean itself up.
Lately the tone of the site is angry, vindictive and dangerous, all things that get my hackles up.
If this tone continues on the site then I will consider making some changes to who can submit comments to the posts. Maybe even something more drastic if need be…..

And to you anonymous pricks that helped with the rope – shame on you.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011



It sure seems like more times than not, when I post something here on our bitters site, it ends up toxic.
Toxic is a word I learned back in the 50's (that's 1950's) when our family started planning to build a fallout shelter.

Our families shelter was going to be a place to sit out a nuclear attack if the Cold War arms buildup went south. While both the Soviet Union and the United States built more nuclear weapons, and accused each other of lying, spying and stealing, our family considered the fallout shelter construction and the benefits of having a place to take refuge from the carnage that was sure to happen at any time.

Lately, with all the battling going on in the pits of the bitters site my fallout shelter is Peachridge Glass. Over at the Peachridge Glass they have excellent pictures of beautiful glass, informative research articles, photos of prominent collectors and absolutely no mud slinging or name calling.
Even the comments to the posts are polite and up beat.

If your getting tired of battling it out on the bitters (or should we call it BITTER) site...
take a look at This old collectors fallout shelter.

Go ahead, take a look at Peachridge and just maybe you'll head for Reno with a positive attitude. I know I will

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


dr. henley's ixl bitters - Google Search: 'Appendix to the Journals of the Senate and Assembly: Volume 3 - Page 116

This is the Report on the California Agricultural Fair 1868-1869,  lists of awards given and some interesting reading.  

"Dr. Henley, of San Francisco, exhibited some fifty cases or more of the preparation invented by him, known as 'Dr. Henley's Wild Grape Boot IXL Bitters, ' compounded from the root of the Oregon wild grape and other ingredients. ..."

There has been a crazy thread on the "Antique Bottle Forum" ...  something about going back in time to a particular place to find your favorite bottles.    I know where I would land...  'soleagents excellent adventure'..   50 cases of no circle IXL's to look through...    wowzer  ...... "party on dudes"!


 Henley must have been a cranky ol' SOB.   He kept changing distributors and agents.   He formed new partnerships at every turn it seems.  Good for the collectors of Henley's bottles.   Just in the IXL bottle alone, there are numerous different moulds.  Wilson did a creditable job of trying to sort out some of the different bottles in his 1969 book Western Bitters.     Some beautiful colors are found in nearly all of the varieties,  but the first group "no circle around IXL" can be truly spectacular.  
Quality control or at least 'color control' was not in practice at all.        

Monday, July 11, 2011

IXL anyone??

Here is a steroview of a display of Dr. Henley's IXL Bitters for the Mechanic's Institute Industrial Exhibiton of 1879.    (Photographed by the noted San Francisco artist Carlton Watkins and part of the collection of the Society of California Pioneers)

Of course by this time the ownership/management of Henley's famous brand had taken so many twists and turns that it is hard to keep up.   Isador Landsberger apparently put together this display in 1879.   Got to love that giant IXL go-with!

Sales of this product were tremendous in the late 70's.  At least in Nevada!   We dug a mining camp privy last fall that had at least 10 broken ones in it.  When they went to the effort to dig or blast a big and deep  privy in the rocks, it is unusual to see it full of bottles, albeit 'broken bottles'.  Easier to just throw them down the hill...
We got about 25 bottles out of this one, last bottle out was one of Isador's IXL variants.. up high on the side wall.   Lots and lots of broken bottles,  these big ixls must just pop like light bulbs when hit by those damn thick champagnes.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Reno Antique Bottle & Collectibles Club
47th Annual Show & Sale
Early Buyers Friday July 22 10am-6pm
Saturday Show and Sale 9am - 3pm
Reno/Sparks Convention Center
4590 South Virginia St., North Entrance, Reno, NV.
Info: WILLY YOUNG, PH: (775) 746-0922.