Wednesday, May 30, 2012

On the flipside of the "Flood Gates" I picked this labeled Western spice bottle for about $20 including postage. I haven't added a Western spice to my collection in perhaps 20 years. Hopefully the label hasn't flaked off into dust by the time it arrives in the post. Just as aside has anyone else been locked out of making comments on google blogs? I can't post a comment on any blog whatsoever.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Let The Flood Gates Open, contd.

I have had several local bottles whose proprietors slapped their labels over Hostetter's Bitters embossed bottles. Nothing rare or exciting there. This stained up label for S.B.C Wild Cherry Tonic, a Star bitters Co product is just such an example of this common occurrence. The bottles content leaked prior to my finding it, hence the staining. It remains either half full or half empty, depending on you perspective. The oldest I have owned was as mid-1870s Hostetter's with a Dr. Mott's Wild Cherry Tonic, Powers and Henderson, Sacramento, Cal label over the embossing. The Schnerr Wild Cherry Tonic bottle has also passed through my collection, but not that example. Value? Maybe $100-125, but most certainly NOT $2K+.
Downieville California
“The Forks “
It is not certain who the first white men to reach Sierra County were, but it is known that prospectors had reached as far as Downieville in the summer of 1849. William “Major” Downie, in one of his letters printed in The Sierra Citizen in 1854, describing the route of his party to the site of Downieville in the fall of 1849, speaks of a branch of the North Yuba River leading to the north (the present day Downie River) as being muddy, and upon getting up this fork of the river he found several men at work mining.

The Forks in the summer of 1850

The Downie River runs from the top of this print to the bottom; the River entering from the right is the North Yuba. The large tent in the left center is the “Orleans” a saloon and gambling hall. The miners in the right center are at work in “Tin Cup Diggings”. The Craycroft Building, a large log structure, built in the fall of 1850 is absent in this print.

More than likely prospectors traveled as far into the canyon of the North Yuba as Downieville in the summer of 1848, following the discovery of gold at Coloma on the American River by James Marshall in January of that year.

Among the first white men to be known as having reached a place on the North Yuba which was to become Downieville were Philo Haven, Francis Anderson, Warren Goodall, Joseph Zumwalt, Thomas Angus and Carlos Haven. They mined at a place about a half mile below Downieville in the summer of 1849. Francis Anderson is given credit for being among the first to discover gold. Francis Anderson is given credit for being among the first to discover gold on September 14th, 1849 at the site of the present town of Downieville.
Major Downie, as mentioned earlier, arrived at the Forks in November of 1849 with his company of twelve men and constructed a small log cabin at a site on the present day Upper Main Street a short distance north of the Downie River.
As the winter of 1849 approached, food and supplies for Downie’s company to stay and mine through the winter was questionable. Major Downie traveled downstream to Goodyears Bar and secured enough goods from miners leaving the area to supply his company for that first winter in the North Yuba area.  Downie was a respected and well liked man in the new settlement of The Forks and played a significant role in the development of this Yuba River gold rush camp. It is reported that due to these efforts the mining settlement had its name changed to Downieville.
The first store, built in the fall of 1849 by J.F. Foster, consisted of a tent stretched over two logs. Another of the earliest stores was that of a Mr. McGhee whose place of business was near the location of the later built St. Charles Hotel and present day Sierra Hardware. These stores stocked whatever could be packed into this remote area. Sometimes food of questionable quality was available and at other times the only thing in stock might be nails, buttons or jack knifes.

Downieville in the summer of 1851

The “Orleans” can be seen in the lower left of this print. The log Craycroft Building stands behind a tree in the left lower center. The majority of the buildings in this print were lost to fire in February of 1852. Notice the extensive fluming of the rivers.
With the news of gold being discovered in great quantities along the North Yuba miners by the hundreds began pouring into the region. As early as the summer of 1850 the number of miners in the North Yuba area was estimated at two thousand with about half being in the Downieville area. By the fall of that year Downieville boosted fifteen hotels, four bakeries, four butcher shops and every piece of mining ground was claimed.

During 1851 Downieville continued to grow and the population reached several thousand miners and dozens of merchants. During the fourth of July celebration of that year a miner named James Cannon, having celebrated the holiday with too much liquor, had an altercation with a young Mexican woman named Juanita. The result was the fatal stabbing of Cannon by the young women. A lynch-court was summoned and twelve jurymen eagerly responded with a verdict of guilty, Juanita was taken to a bridge in town and strung up. The first and only woman hanged in California.

Downieville in the fall of 1854.

In the lower right of this lithograph the construction of the Sierra County Courthouse, started in May of 1854, is yet to be completed. The peaked roof Craycroft building (left center) completed in the fall of 1852, after the original log structure was destroyed by fire, is clearly shown. The Methodist Church under construction in 1855 is not shown in this print.
 During 1851 Downieville continued to grow and the population reached several thousand miners and dozens of merchants. During the fourth of July celebration of that year a miner named James Cannon, having celebrated the holiday with too much liquor, had an altercation with a young Mexican woman named Juanita. The result was the fatal stabbing of Cannon by the young women. A lynch-court was summoned and twelve jurymen eagerly responded with a verdict of guilty, Juanita was taken to a bridge in town and strung up. The first and only women hanged in California.
To fully understand the significance of Downieville it must be noted that in the general election of October 7, 1850 Downieville received enough votes to rank sixth in the citizens of California’s choice for the permanent seat of government. Contrary to local history it lost the bid for the state capital to Vallejo by an overwhelming margin.
The placer deposits of the Downieville area were worked extensively during the 1850’s and the productivity of these deposits began to decline during the end of the decade. Because of the decline in gold production from the benches, bars and stream bottoms prospectors turned their attention to the gold bearing quartz deposits. By the beginning of the 1860’s hard rock mining was underway and a reported ten companies were crushing ore above Downieville.

By 1856 Downieville had become a gold rush town of “Consequence”,
          seat of Sierra County and supply hub for the North Yuba country
Although quartz mining was underway the early 1860’s were the beginning of the decline of Downieville as a gold producing town. The Comstock Lode in Virginia City drew hundreds, if not thousands, of the productive citizens away from the Downieville area and into the new discoveries in Nevada. During the early to mid 1860’s Downieville was transitioning from a rough and tumble gold rush town to a seat of county business and supply town.
In the fall of 1865 a company of miners made application to the county board of supervisors to exhume the bodies resting in the old cemetery northeast of town, and re-intern the remains in the new cemetery above Zumwalt flat. The flat that the old cemetery was located on had been tunneled and mined so extensively that some of the graves had sunk down. On the east side of the cemetery the ground had been mined so far into the burial ground that two or three coffins were protruding from the ground. The board of supervisors did not grant the application, but in the spring of 1876 a like request was granted and the last piece of gold rush placer ground in Downieville was directed through a sluice box.
Although major floods have raised the surface level of town proper and buried gold rush bottles and artifacts deep under the surface of this settlement, several important early bottles have been recovered from this historic gold rush town.  Examples of J.T. Daly Clubhouse, Jockey Clubhouse Gin, Wistar’s Clubhouse, WSC Clubhouse, Catawba Wine Bitters,  western and eastern pontil soda’s and even shards of a Bryant’s (cone) Stomach Bitters have been discovered in the Downieville area.
Downieville was the first and always has been the foremost town in Sierra County and at the present time is considered one of the best preserved gold rush towns in the northern mines. Several gold rush structures are still in use and include The Craycroft Building, Mackerman and Company building, the Methodist Church, the Downieville Brewery, the Masonic Building, several private residences and the J.M.B. Meroux grocery store. The Meroux store, a stone and brick structure, built in 1852 was donated in the 1930’s by the Meroux family to the community of Downieville and now houses the Downieville Museum.

During the beginning of the gold rush paper money didn’t exist in Sierra County. All goods and services were paid for with gold or bartered and traded.

The Hirschfelder Building originally sold furnishings and variety items; later J.W. Brown purchased the building and opened a hardware store. This”fire proof” building was constructed from stone and clay mortar and had iron doors and shutters to protect the building from fire. Clay extracted from the riverbed was used as a waterproof and fireproof roofing material. This remarkable piece of gold rush history is still in use today and houses the Downieville Grocery            
Pack mules leaving Downieville for the remote mining communities

Saturday, May 26, 2012

And the Flood Gates Open

Just the other day a paper labeled bottle from Sacramento  Schnerr’s Wild Cherry Tonic Compound Bitters on eBay closed for a whooping $2025.00. Just a ridiculous price for a post 1906 bottle with a paper label slapped on it.

The 2K Schnerr's (Peach Ridge photo)
 I remember a few years back one of the dealers here in the west bought a whole building full of paper labeled bottles from a closed drugstore. He must have had a couple of hundred paper labeled bottles that he brought to western shows for over a year until he finally wound up selling them one by one and eventually auctioning his whole table of bottles at the end of one of the shows at about $5.00 a bottle.

I took a look at at the eBay site this morning, and low and behold, when I searched Sacramento in the antique bottle section up pops not one but three paper labeled bottles from Sacramento. All of the bottles listed are post the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act.
The labeled bottles listed include a Shasta Bitters, High Grade Wild Cherry Cordial and a Green Star Hoarhound and Irish Moss Gum.......Yum......

These three paper labeled bottles are so new they even have the company's phone numbers on the bottom of the label - Wonder if that makes them more valuable or desirable?

And so, as with everything else, once something sells for a stupid price the flood gates open and items of a like kind seem to just fly out of the woodwork. If you are collecting post 1906 paper labeled bottles from Sacramento now is the time to get on over to eBay and open your wallet.

Friday, May 18, 2012


Nevada History Through Glass  
The Nevada Bottle book
Volume 1
by Fred Holabird

The Nevada Bottle Book by Fred Holabird is the long awaited revised edition of Fred and Jack Haddock's "Nevada Bottle Book" published in 1979.

This new book by Fred is so much more than the original manuscript released back in 1979. The Nevada Bottle Book is much more than just a bottle identification and pricing book. This book is packed with facts and interesting stories about the history of the companies and people who made and used the bottles that have been found in Nevada. It also includes information about the towns and regions that sprang up from mining strikes, transportation hubs and much needed agricultural growing areas.
The text and fantastic color pictures are complimented by copies of billheads and receipts, pictures of tokens and sidebars of additional information.

I throughly enjoyed reading this book and it will go in my library of western related research books to be enjoyed through the years. This is a must have book if you are interested in Nevada bottles or Nevada history.

Our amigo up in Chico, Randy Taylor, has The Nevada Bottle Book for sale on his ebay site:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Who's this?

Recognize this guy? Of course, it was nearly 40 yrs ago when we were tearing it up in Broderick, CA., now known collectively as West Sacramento

Fish's, contd.

Here is C.R. Story's ad in Langley's 1861 Directory for the City of San Francisco.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


July 27th -29th, 2012
at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino
Ifyou haven't started to make your reservations for the FOHBC 2012 Expo in Reno its time to get get with the program. The latest guesstimates are anywhere from 300 to 500 sales tables for you purchasing pleasure. Below are listed some highlights of the upcoming events:

Special Notes:

* When calling for a room at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino Hotel for the 2012 Expo, tell them that they you are with the FOHBC and the reservation code is HIBC.
* For those of you that have not looked into the facilities at the Grand Sierra Hotel where the 2012 Expo will be held please be aware that the Hotel has FREE shuttle service from the airport, a R.V. Park and the Hotel is pet friendly, bring your dog if you want.

Seminar List (will be updated):

Fred Holabird - How to value your collection
Tom Jacobs – San Francisco Beers
Tom Jacobs – Western Sodas
Dennis Bray – EC&M insulators
John Burton – Grace Brothers Co. (bottles, cans etc.)
Dwayne Anthony - Color-Altered Glass
Sheldon Baugh & Ferdinand Meyer V – Crazy year for Figural Bitters and other trends in the market.
Eric McGuire - California labels from 1850”s to 1890. All classes of bottled products will be represented. Over 200 hundred examples.
Ron Fowler - and Hutchinson Bottle Collectors Association Developments. Updates on HutchBook

Friday, May 4, 2012

Western Bitters Survey 2012

Recently I was reviewing older posts on this blog, and came across the "Western Bitters Survey". I also noticed that this survey was compiled without the internet, and prior to the forum Western Bitters News. Being mainly western bitters focused in my collecting, and the apparent increase in the popularity in these gorgeous and historically significant bottles, I thought that perhaps this survey of the top 20 western bitters could be tabulated by anyone who has the ability to post their top 20. Just thought it would be interesting...

 Dale R. Mlasko