Tuesday, February 28, 2012



The Downieville Antique Bottles & Collectibles Show is scheduled for Saturday, September 8. Once again it will be held in the Downieville School Gym with lots of room to set up displays and sales tables. The gym is located in the heart of town~park and walk all over the quaint little historic gold rush town of Downieville.

Dealer set up will be Saturday from 7 am to 8 am. DEALERS ONLY will be admitted during this hour. The show opens promptly at 8:00 am for a $10.00 “Early Lookers” fee and admission is free after 10 am to 3 pm. The Downieville Fire Auxiliary will provide breakfast and a delicious lunch for a small charge. Dealer registration includes a pre-show BBQ dinner and wine tasting on Friday evening at “Simiville”. A special wine tasting event, a big hit from the past shows will be featured at the BBQ. Will Clark, owner of “49 Wines & Wine Bar” here in Downieville will be offering some tasty wines from around the gold country. Please join us for a fun and casual evening together with friends, food- and, as always~some great bottle stories!

We urge you to make early motel reservations, and when you do, please mention you are here for the Bottle Show. Downieville is a small town and the motels fill up quickly during the beautiful autumn weekends. We have included a listing of lodgings, and if you need help or suggestions, please call Rick or Cherry Simi at (530) 289-3659, or email: ricksimi@att.net

Warren Friedrich is organizing the display again this year; “The Silver Seventies”. After the discovery of silver, prospectors rushed to the Nevada area and scrambled to stake their claims. The display will feature bottles and related items from the 1870’s-whiskies, sodas, medicines and drug store bottles, etc. We encourage those wanting to share their unique bottles and related items to contact Warren at (530)271-5757 or cell phone (530)265-5204.

Don’t miss out! We look forward to seeing you in Downieville for another awesome show! Please send your registration with payment ASAP, and remember to make your motel reservations early!

~See you in Downieville in September~

The cowpoke on the right, in the above picture, is my grandfather Anuello Simi

Monday, February 27, 2012

Western Bowman go with

I believe this is a wax sealer for sealing letters. From Bowman in Sackamenna, is it?
Don't think that's the Oakland address there in picture one. I know, this is pretty low end for most of the Western advanced collectors. Maybe someone's impressed. I got this for a pretty low bid.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Old Virginia Peach Brandy

Here is a very elusive and mysterious Gold Rush artifact which is very beautiful. I have only seen a couple of these and they seem to be found exclusively in the Sierra gold camps. I trust that there has been some research done on the rare bottle besides what little I have been able to find.
This large gallon size container closely resembles a demijohn, and has been seen with both tapered tops such as this example, and a tapered top with ring similar to a whiskey. They are always iron pontiled, and except for this specimen, typically come in a dark olive amber shade. This example is heavily whittled and came from the Oroville, California area.
Is there any advertising for this product? It appears to be 1850s to me, and any information regarding this brand, and exact location of the distributor would be appreciated.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Fish's Infallible Hair Restorative Ad

Ad from the November 15, 1858 Sacramento Daily Union. Interesting to know who sold it locally.

The Notorious Romargi Clan

Three years after gold was discovered in California, John and Jane Romargi, Italian gypsies from Florida, appeared in Goodyear’s Bar. They moved onto the top of the mountain, and kept what was known as “Floridian House”. Later they moved further on and built a house and barroom that took on the name of Nigger Tent, in a location that was previously settled by a black man who had set up a blacksmith shop under a tent.

John Romargi is described in an early newspaper as of “slim build, wizened face, and a most villainous countenance-a hardened criminal”. Jane Romargi was described as large and fleshy, showing her Italian gypsy blood. She was said to have had a smooth, oily manner, wheedling her customers. The two Romargis were alleged to have been genuinely wicked persons, extending their activities over three decades.

The couple had two children, a son, James, a daughter Jane. James was arrested twice for murder, but was not convicted.

Jane, the daughter, married a man name Hutchins. They had a son who was christened Algie D. Romargi. The daughter died early and Hutchins stayed on for a while, but there was constant quarreling. The story was told that he fired four shots into his mother-in-law and she carried the bullets in her body the rest of her life. She had attacked him with a knife. Later, Hutchins quietly disappeared-no one seemed to know where, or cared.

During these earlier years, everyone passing by was expected to stop and patronize their bar. Indeed they found it safer to do so. If Madam Romargi was not pleased with anyone, she would take a shot at him-a “gentle” reminder to do better by them.

Stage robberies and holdups became more frequent. Algie was old enough now to do his share in the business. The Romargi’ decided a barmaid would help increase business, so they hired a handsome young woman from Nevada City. She went by the name of “Spider Bite”. They did not conceal anything from this girl and she soon went on to Downieville, probably for her own safety.

Wells Fargo Express had charge of shipments of gold from the miners in the vicinity, and of the money sent in for the miners’ payroll. These were times when stage robberies were apt to occur. But time was running out for the Romargis. Wells Fargo and Co., the heaviest losers by holdups and robberies, sent their detective, Captain Charles Aull, to investigate.

After a stage robbery on the La Porte Road, Captain Aull learned an ex-convict, Jack Brown, alias O’Neill, had been stopping at the Romagis. Aull found, too, that “Spider Bite” was living in Downieville. She was reluctant to talk about the doings at the Romagis, but on being reassured of protection, she told what she knew. Now it was alleged to be clear that the crimes originated there, and that Algie Romargi was the main culprit.

Algie was arrested and tried in the Superior Court before Judge Howe in Downieville. “Spider Bite” was the chief witness for the prosecution and told an amazing story. Algie was convicted and sent to Folsom.

Eventually, John Romargi was found dead at 72 years old. Jane suffered acute blood poisoning from a wound on the back of her hand. She died at the age of 78 years. The notorious Romargi clan and Nigger tent came to an end.
Discarded by the Romargi's ?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Sunny Winter Day

Sitting here on this sunny winter day and letting what's left of my mind wander, it landed on a few bottles I can't remember posting on this blog. Here's five desirable applied top western medicines. Hope you enjoy the picture.
From left to right: Pratt's Abolition Oil / For Abolishing Pain - Dr. J.J. McBride / King of Pain - Dr. Perry's Last Chance / Linemint - Dr. McBride / Worlds Relief - S.D. Baldwin Liniment /  Marysville Cal.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dr. Wonser's in Aqua

Here is an example of the Dr. Wonser's U.S.A. Indian Root Bitters in aqua. I have always wondered why this bottle exists...is it indeed the first version of this bitters? I have compared the embossing to the "later" amber version and they are identical in every way. The base on the aqua specimens is also identical with the exception of the more pronounced dome or kick up which does not occur on the amber version.

Was the aqua earlier, and why such a short run? Why the switch to the amber version using the same mold, yet changing the color, base and top style? It has been theorized that aqua glass showed the unsightly contents, yet literally hundreds of bitters brands came in aqua bottles. There is even another mold which I believe is later still , as it has a "whiskey" type stepped base. These are extremely rare. I have not compared the embossing on this type.

I believe there are about 20 examples of the aqua Wonser's known both in collections, and likely in Government warehouses...it is interesting that a cache found in the 1990s doubled the number of known specimens. Similar to the Wormser Bros. barrels where a group of the bottles were found in one location. Also, for some reason, the examples located in Nevada over the years seem to be a deeper blue aqua and are more rich in color than the examples dug elsewhere.

The Wonser's Bitters continue to rise in popularity with collectors every year. it is not hard to see why...they are truly beautiful and have a great name, as well as the early age and variety of colors that appeal to Western as well as Eastern collectors of bitters bottles.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Dr. Wonser's

I know that there have been several postings on the Dr. Wonser's Indian Root Bitters, but they are just such gorgeous bottles with everything going for them. There are several of you who are experts at researching and providing detailed history of western brands, and I have learned so much over the years. I guess my role on the blog is to occasionally post a photo and a few lines of inconsequential nothingness. I will leave the additional information to those of you who have done the work...I do believe these date from 1871-1873 or 74.
This particular example is in a deeper red amber and has a ton of crudity and character. It was found over 60 years ago on the surface while a gentleman was out cutting down his Christmas tree. I have not dug as nice a bottle as this in over 40 years of actually trying! It is amazing how some of the greatest finds have occurred over the years. I have not had my wife walk around while I am digging and come back holding a California Clubhouse Bourbon that she found under a bush...an arrowhead once, but that was it. I think it would be interesting to hear of more finds by non collectors under unusual circumstances.