Sunday, August 28, 2011


Here are two great western bottles you don't see to often, and most of the time go unnoticed. These two beautiful Bay Rums from San Francisco, the Crane & Brigham with embossed bay leaf and the Redington & Co. with monogram. Both are pint size and have the western curved R's. One of the most elegant shaped western bottles. I believe that they are the only two embossed bay rums from California, I could be wrong. One thing I find funny is that both companies were on Market St. during the 1870's when these bay rums were made. Crane & Brigham was at 520 Market St. and Redington & Co. was at 529 Market St. I'm sure they were spying on each other, as to what new products each one was selling.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

another dig

About 1994 old cal49er ' brother dan and his son gary were off probing in a really early town site.(1850-1858). We hit an early hole and dug some good bottles. This same field ended up producing several hundred bottles in the next year. Included are some photos of one of our better digs 10 pontilled sodas and assorted blacks and wines. This field produced a mint hogan and thompson soda and 2 blue pontilled cone inks. MAX BELL

Monday, August 22, 2011

Downieville Antique Bottles & Collectibles Show

A bottle collectors paradise! Coming to Downieville, CA on Saturday, September 10, 2011 is the annual antique bottles and collectibles show “Bottlemania! A Blast of Glass from the Past”. The show is being held in the Downieville School Gym at 130 School Street. It opens at 8:00 am for a $10 early looker fee and is free to the public from 10 am to 3 pm.

The hobby of bottle collecting is strong and continues to gain popularity. Bottle shows are great fun and expose the collector to bottles of every type. Even if you know nothing about the hobby-you will find the Downieville Show to be very interesting and will provide an opportunity to talk with numerous experts. Their enthusiasm for the bottle collecting/digging hobby is contagious! You’ll be in the company of real people who dig holes in the ground for fun!

In addition to antique bottles, shoppers will find antique stoneware crocks and jugs, trade cards, advertising tins and signs, postcards, ephemera, and a large assortment of antiques and collectibles. Displays will feature western beers, medicines and miniatures. There’s something for almost every kind of collector and available for prices anyone can afford. Don’t forget to buy your raffle tickets for some great prizes!

Downieville is located on historic Highway 49 in the northern gold country. 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 Antique Bottle Show and Sale. You can park and walk to the show, museum, shops, restaurants and wine bar.

A few sale tables are still available. For dealer or show information, please call Rick or Cherry Simi (530) 289-3659 or email:

We'll see you here in Downieville!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Dr. J. Hostetter's Stomach Bitters

Hoss color run:

Black-glass/green small variant with star on base:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"Two Pioneer Women"

These two great women are pioneers of the bottle collecting world. They are Dr. Pauline Rosen (left) and my grandmother Marilyn Lehr (right). This ad is from the Sac Bee, 1968. They are setting up a bottle display at the El Dorado County Fair. Which was probably the first bottle display ever put on in California. Dr. Pauline Rosen was at the time, one of the largest figural bitters collecters. She also was one of the first members of the ABC, and helped Marilyn Lehr form the Hangtown Bottlenecks Club in Placerville. After her husband past, she disapeared from the hobby. Her collection was bought by Mike Henness some 25+ years ago. Not sure if she is still with us... Marilyn Lehr along with my Grandfather Ed Lehr were some of the first diggers/collecters in California,(Placerville area) about 1958. Marilyn loved collecting western meds and Chinese artifacts. She had the first largest collection of Gold Rush town med's anywhere. She also had one of the first Bottle Shops, located in Diamond Springs,(1967) where lots of collecters came to buy bottles. She was the founder of the Hangtown Bottlenecks, an early member of the ABC and help form the El Dorado County Musem. Marilyn Lehr is alive and well at 82 and lives in Madera, Ca.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

PCGW post-TOC citrates

Two San Francisco citrates I acquired not too long ago. Neither one is listed as having a prescription bottle in Miller's book. The Anchor is known as a variant with both Sacto and SF addresses listed on a citrate and a prescription bottle however. In my limited experience citrates are quite rare, similar to embossed dose glasses -- when compared with known prescription type bottles from the same companies. Talk about full face embossing...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

CAN you say AFRICAN?

The intrepid duo of Chuck Erickson and Mike Lake scored this nice yellow amber African Bitters a few days ago. Well, all we can say is that a little persistence pays off. This one came from a brick filled cellar pit in a nearby empty lot. I'm "out of the loop" due to ongoing health issues and was not able to participate, but at least I can show a few pictures "after the fact".

The bottle is four piece mold, absolutely hammer whittled, with "western curved "R"s and has a gnarly applicable top. A good example of a nice SF bottle. It also does not have "Spruance Stanley & Co" on the reverse. Some claim that this is the "last mold" and dates from the late 1880s, but if the other bottles found in the pit are any
evidence it would date from approximately 10 years prior to that arbitrary assignment.
You be the judge.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Top three whiskey digs of all time ?

I'd say it's about time for another............

Does anyone know what 5ths they found ?

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Thats right, I said Salutaris Bitters. This super rare western bitters was recently found in a "barn" in a Nor-Cal mining town. Its a beautiful emarld green color with a nice crude top.
In 1863 D.B. Castree and L.M. Byrne decided to market a new bitters. They called it Salutaris, which means promoting health. Their business was located at 184 Kearny St. San Francisco. It is also one of the first products of the Pacific Glass Works. The Salutaris Bitters dates 1863 - 1866. less than 12 known.

There's gold in them there hills

Well, not exactly. Actually, it was silver. Got a call a couple of years ago from a friend that owns a house dating to 1880 in a certain western state. He found some funny looking dirt that had bones and rusty cans mixed in with it after he moved an old shed that had been there for forty or fifty years.

Mr. Probe and Mr. Metal Detector both gave their thumbs up. A wooden partition separated one five foot deep two holer from another pit, an eight foot one holer. Both had identical dating "stuff". An outhouse condo...

Lots and lots of glass, ca. 1880's snuffs, wines, beers, beer mugs, cures, druggists, etc. etc. but no whiskies or bitters. What set this one apart was the coins. Lots and lots of silver; and still in good shape. The owner kept everything, but it was still a blast to dig.

Keep em' Coming

I just wanted to thank all the folks that have changed the direction of the Western Bitters News back  into a positive pleasant site to visit.
All of the incredible early digging photos that you are posting sure bring back a lot of very fond memories.
Keep the those early digging pictures coming. Us "old timers" really enjoy them.

As for combining the sites? I think the WBN, Western Tool Top Gazette and the Glob Top site all have different things to offer for different interests. Until things change the Western Bitters News will remain as it has been since it was started. A place for bottle enthusiasts to share their passion for the hobby, post digging and research articles and yes, an unrestricted forum to comment on the state of the hobby. I have always believed a person has the right to speak his peace. This doesn't mean I will tolerate assaults on reputations, personal vendetta's or vulgar remarks on the Western Bitters News.
Wow, I can't believe all the hair everyone had back in the day!

Friday, August 5, 2011

I Gota Full House!

This was one of my better Whiskey holes that I dug with Angleo a.k.a. the Godfather in 1979, it had seventeen embossed Western 5ths. Persistence pays off and it certainly did on this dig. Late in the day after a probe-a-thon we located and dug into what we thought was a dud. At two feet down I uncovered a machine made clear junker 5th. We had been digging at another site all day and decided to fill it, to new it seemed. There were lots of places to dig back then so we thought no sense wasting time on newer stuff like that. Besides that we had alreday dug a vintage hole in the same yard. Almost a year later while digging in the same area and finishing early I suggested we go back and dig the pit out we had found months ago and hope for a few milks, was I ever in for a surprise. We dug down past where we stopped prior and then another couple more feet down through a totally clean plug layer. As I was digging I could probe ahead and feel a very crammed fluffy layer coming up that I was only inches away from. As I broke though the plug and into the fluff I brushed away the dirt with my glove and was greeted by bases. sides and necks of 5ths! It was a log-jam for the next 3 feet of mostly all whiskies and numerous busted ones.

5 - Davy Crockett's.
1 - A. Fenkhausen.
1 - Old Gilt Edge Sole Agents, clear full face embossing, e.r.
2 - Old Gilt Edge Sole Agents. red hammer whittled & applied, wow.
1- Standard Old Bourbon
3 - Louis Taussig, clear & applied.
1 - Kellogg's
1 - Roth & Co, red whittled.
2 - Castle Old Bourbons

Has anyone one ever thought of combining the two sites into one Western bottle site????????????

I Will See Your Renzs And Raise You A Plantation

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Old pics

I found a few old photos of diggin' back in the day. Many are lost 'cause my saving pictures reeks. They are piled everywhere and some were simply thrown away. There is one of me holding a fresh dug Buffalo Bourbon, me holding some old soda and a funky square, and one of the last exclusive permission dig in Old Sac, mid-1970s. Tons of good bottles came from that site. Left behind were hundreds of junker blacks, common sodas, and anything slick. One of my buds and I got into a space between two buildings that had over 4' of 1860s and '70s sodas piled in the ash. We busted 60-70 Billings 'cause they were aqua and we only wanted color. Owens by the hundred! At the time they were going for $15-20 a pop and they all went. What happened to all those Caseys? Now, you see people trying to get 200 bucks for the things. Crazy, I tell 'ya.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A. A. Enqvist California Washing Extract

This bottle was mentioned in the comments of another post a few months ago. As far as I was able to research Mr. Enqvist was only listed with the "v" in his name in the 1865 SFCD. Apparently more extensive research was done on Mr. Enqvist than I was able to accomplish online. I'd love to read more information about this bottle. This was found by Val Valdivia in the Embarcadero Projects...I later bought it out from under someone's nose who'd priced it for Mr. Valdivia at all of $5.00. Oops! :')