Monday, November 26, 2012

This Friday & Saturday

If You Only Go To a Few Bottle Shows a Year...Don't Miss This One...

Saturday December 1st at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn.

Friday Early Bird from noon to 7:00 $10.00.

There are going to be prizes, cash giveaways, it's the last show in Auburn before moving to the new location next year. Don't miss this historic event!!! Check our website for a map of the location. Seriously, this is the one to go to.
(Thanks American Bottle Auctions)
This year's theme for the bottle display is the ROSENBAUMS BITTERS and the CUNDURANGO bitters bottles. All collectors/dealers/diggers are invited to participate in displaying their examples of these bottles. Please bring them to be part of a wonderful display at this years show!

The annual Auburn Festival of Lights has been cancelled  due to weather conditions (weather conditions?)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Another try...

Apparently not smart enough to add the picture either :)  Here is a small grouping of western blown wines, ammonia's and cylinders. I have dug and picked these up, as well as a few boxes more over the years. DM

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Western "Star"

Here is a nice colored example of the large size Pacific Glass Works pickle jar. Has anyone determined exactly why the star is embossed on the shoulder? I have been told it is somehow related to the Civil War victory by the Union Army, but have never seen any advertising to explain the star. The Star in Shield Cutter whiskey line, and the "TM" Bitters square, and the Trout Oil Liniment medicine share an embossed star as either a trade mark, or simply a design used to attract customers. In the past, several of you have been generous enough to provide me actual advertising, or patent information on bottles which have been a bit of a mystery to me. I would appreciate any info on this one and perhaps it could be posted for others to view.



Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends and fellow collectors.
A few pictures for your Thanksgiving enjoyment
Rare western A.Barbier's Schnapps
Two beautiful Henley's
The Three Renz Variants
Van Brunt's Aromatic Schnapps
(When was the last time you saw one of these)
Extremely rare E. Holden Stockton pepper sauce
Lou in blue with a blue soda
Through the concrete and starting the dig
A handful of Dickey's
Happy Thanksgiving - See you at Auburn

Monday, November 19, 2012

Western Round-Up Display at 49er Historical Bottle Show

The ‘Best of the West’ show this year on December 1st will feature a round-up display of the ROSENBAUMS BITTERS and the CUNDURANGO bitters bottles. All collectors are invited and encouraged to bring their examples to display in a large wonderful back lit cabinet with locking glass doors.This is not a judged event. Please contact Warren Friedrich (530) 271-5757 or Mike McKillop (916) 367-1829 for display information
(pirated from PRG!)

49er HBA Show and Sale Update
Just in from 49er HBA club member Warren Friedrich.
Early setup for dealers, and admission for early lookers, at this years show and sale on Friday November 30th will begin at noon. Saturday's show opens at 9:00 am and closes at 3:00pm. Admission is free.
Warren reports: "The 49er show is sold out and we already have people who have never purchased a table before lined up for next year's event at the new location, so far everyone is excited about the move.
 (except for a grumpy un-named collector from Benecia - rs) 
The Western Bitters News and all of us here in the California Gold Country are looking forward to another awesome Auburn Show! See you at the Fairgrounds!
Last year's surprise attendees


Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Gallery of Western Soda's


L & V embossed on the face of this bottle stands for Lippincott & Vaughan of Stockton California. Early directories list Lippincott and Vaughan as manufacturers of syrups, mineral water, soda water, essences and bitters. This scarce soda was used by the Lippincott and Vaughn company for their popular mineral waters. According to an early advertisement, they also manufactured syrups, bitters and essenses. This early Stockton based company produced a couple of different embossed bottles at the same address. Circa: 1852 - 1857 

                                                                       BOLEY & Co SAC CITY CAL
 Addison and Lafayette are believed to have established the first soda water factory in Sacramento in late 1849 or early 1850.  The Boley brothers continued in the bottling of soda water until 1862.  During 1862 the Boley's dissapear from Sacramento business directories and what became of the Boley brothers remains a mystery. Circa: 1850 - 1862
The Owen Casey bottles have a smooth base and come in colors from blue to green and also in aqua coloration. The green and blue colored examples are considered fairly common but the aqua colored Casey's are considered scarce. I couldn't find any advertisements for Owen Casey products for the period of time they were in business                                              

William H. Burt purchased the San Francisco soda water business of Cammet and Buffum sometime in the later part of 1851. Burt bottled and sold his soda water until the end of 1852 when it is believed he left San Francisco. After 1852 William H. Burt is not mentioned in San Francisco or Bay Area directories. Circa: 1852
Able W. Cudworth was the proprietor of the Excelsior Soda Works located at the corner of Hinckley, Pinckney and Vallejo Street in San Francisco California. Cudworth operated this soda factory from 1858 to sometime in 1861 when the business was listed as being operated by Brader & Co. Cudworth shows up in San Francisco records until about 1875 and no mention of him can be found after that time. The Cudworth soda’s come in three variants; the aqua examples (pictured at left) are considered common, a variant embossed A.W. Cudworth & Co San Francisco Cal is considered scarce in green and the Cudworth soda without San Francisco embossed on the bottle is considered rare. Circa: 1858 - 1861


Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Couple of Souvenir Flasks

Hi Rick, 
 I wondering if you could help with a few California flasks I have. I've not been able to find anything else like them, and wonder if you have possibly seen anything close? Both have label under glass and are covered with a sort of paper mache made to look like wood, with cuts of wood to make the cut ends. Both are plain blown bottles underneath. Any ideas?


Any information you have on these flasks would be appreciated ..... .....
Thanks - rs

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Western or Eastern Revisited

Browsing ebay yesterday, while it was snowing here, I came across a couple of square bitters shaped bottles that were advertised as "Western" by the folks offering the bottles for sale.
Seems like if you have an un-embossed bottle that you want to sell (or for that matter any bottle that's origin is in question embossed or not)  the tag "Western" or "Western Blown" stands us western collectors at attention and ready to pull the trigger on the auction bottle.
I'm not an expert on western glass but for the last 40 years I have been digging and collecting bottles here in the west. Over those 40 years I have learned one thing - not everything is what it appears to be.



The ongoing research on western manufactured bottles, by a number of western collectors, have not only uncovered new and exciting information on "what's western" but have set some loose guidelines on how to possibility identify a western blown bottle.
First off and most commonly sited by western collectors (on the origin of a bottle) are a few things that seem to be of paramount importance to left coast bottle collectors. The location of where the bottle was discovered, the color of the bottle and the condition of the glass.
I don't think any of us western collectors are naive enough to believe that just because a bottle was un-earthed in say California it was manufactured here. Sure, it was obviously distributed or transported to California but that's possibility about as much information, about where it was manufactured, as you can garner from the discovery site.
Color is a whole different ballgame for western collectors. A vast number of western collectors believe you can call a bottle western just by the color of the glass. Colors that are attributed to western glass houses exclusively by western collectors such as fire aqua, western aqua, Squarza blue, deep emerald and a host of other color descriptions are also present in eastern manufactured glass. I think a lot of these color descriptions can be attributed to a small circle of western collectors and have been generally adopted by a majority of western bottle collectors. Regardless of whether or not you believe these colors are exclusive to western glass I believe the majority of western collectors use these color descriptions as a guideline for their western glass acquisitions.

Color - Western or Eastern?
"Fire Aqua" Scovill's Blood and Liver Syrup
Condition is another area of concern to western collectors. I don't know how many times I have heard "It came out of the ground in mint condition, its western!" or its definitely western "it shines like a diamond in the wind" 
I have done a bit of digging and soil condition along with what minerals are in the soil plays a major role in the condition of the bottle.

One overlooked area of western glass criteria is the actual shape of the bottle in question. Early western glasshouse authority Warren Friedrich has brought to light a interesting observation on the shape of western manufactured bitters bottles. "Eastern manufactured square bitters shaped bottles exhibit a typical roundness where the beveled corners meet the shoulder of the bottle. This character trait is very common among squares of eastern manufacture. Most other large squares of western origin do not have this characteristic".

Whether a bottle was manufactured in the west or east does not rate high in my collecting criteria. What is of importance to me is if it was distributed ino the west to be purchased by a western consumer.

Shape -Western or Eastern?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

S.F. Gaslight Co.

 Here is a gorgeous piece of western blown glass. These ammonia's are a category of collecting in themselves and I love the many colors they represent. This example has the "L" on the base, but "ammonia" is not in a slug plate. I would assume it is an earlier version due to the large applied top.

 Apparently, ammonia was a by-product of the manufacturing process for producing gas for the street gas lights. At least that is my understanding, but not being a chemist, I do not know for sure. It seems that in an age of cholera and other deadly bugs, sanitation was a major concern. This example looks like it is late 1870s, or early 1880s. These come in a myriad of colors with aqua being most prevalent. I have seen examples in every shade of green, amber,yellow, pink and clear with cobalt blue being extremely rare. It is interesting that the cobalt S.F. Gaslight bottles all come with a double roll collar applied top, and have a mold extension making them taller than the regular quart size "fat" style.  To find any colored quart with an applied top is rare, as most of the deeper emerald, yellow, amber and pink specimens have a smaller tooled top. I have seen half gallon sizes, pint and even inside screw thread quarts. Obviously ammonia was a very well used product as there are hundreds of unembossed ammonias found as well.

 I have been very curious for years as to why there are so many colors and styles which were designed for these beautiful bottles. Why are the cobalt examples always the taller double roll style, and the pink specimens always the regular quart size with a tooled top? The deep emerald coloration always seems to come in the tooled style as well. It would seem that these differences were by design, and not by default. Such is the case with the similar U.S.A. Hosp. Dept. bottles...almost the same range in colors, and for as serious of a product as medicines for our troops, one would think that the range of colors is product specific. Such is not the case with ammonia bottles as the product is consistent.
 Many colored ammonias were wrapped in wicker which causes one to think, that these bottles were re-used and needed to appear as part of one's home decor. Every wicker wrapped quart I find, is pretty exciting as you never know what is under that wicker!
 There are some incredible collections of embossed, and unembossed ammonias in collections. let's see your colored ammonias! DM

Cal49er sent along a few pictures of his ammonia's ENJOY!

Thanks for the fantastic pictures!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sierra County California Gold Rush History

The North Fork Flats
(From Downieville east to China Flat)
Map of The North Fork Flats
Rick Simi 2008
Jersey Flat
Located in what is now Downieville, Jersey Flat was discovered in 1849 and first called Murraysville. In 1850 the Jersey Company acquired the flat and it is reported at least two million dollars was mined here. The first post office in Downieville, opened on October 7, 1851, was located on Jersey Flat. Gold rush structures that are still in use on the flat include the Methodist Church, the Masonic Lodge and the former home and medical office of Dr. Jump.


Breyfogle Flat
This flat was located one mile east of Downieville and on the south side of the North Yuba River near Slate Castle Creek. The bench of river gravel below the flat was first mined from March to November of 1850 by the Breyfogle brothers for whom the flat was named. Gold rush pioneer George Hardy built a home at the flat sometime in1851 and it is said that by the beginning of 1852 Hardy and his family were farming a one hundred and fifty seven acre section of the flat.
It is also said the first white male born in the Downieville area, Joel Hardy, was born at the flat on April 28, 1852.
            The area that was first mined in 1850 is now covered by the Lure Resort and any evidence of gold rush activity has been erased. The flat that was farmed by the Hardy family is now the Slate Castle Ranch. Bottles from the 1880 – 1890 periods have been recovered from the flat but I have no evidence that gold rush bottles have been discovered from this area.
            On a field trip up Slate Castle Creek in the 1980’s I discovered a small camp that contained about five structure sites that could have housed cabins. At this site shards of black glass Hostetter’s Bitters were discovered along with other bottles dating from the mid to late 1860’s confirming a small mining camp could have existed during the waning years of the gold rush.
O’Donnel’s Flat
This flat was located three and one half miles east of Downieville on the present day road to Sierra City. There is some confusion on the name of this flat. Jim Sinnot in his Downieville book refers to it as McDonald Flat and Katie Willmarth Green, in her book Like a Leaf Upon the Current Cast, refers to it as O’Donnel Flat. Although no large settlement developed here this place is significant for the fact that it is said the Downie party camped and prospected here for several days in the fall of 1849 before making their way to the site of Downieville.
O’Donnel’s Flat was large enough to be a polling place and in 1854 fifty two votes were cast here in the general election and an advertisement from the Sierra Citizen (reproduced at left) shows W.N. Farrin running a general store at about the same time. This place in later years became known as the McCarty Ranch and in 1911 the house at the ranch was destroyed by fire. The State of California Highway Maintenance Station now occupies O’Donnel’s Flat.
New York Flat
A short distance north of O’Donnel’s Flat a small settlement developed at New York Flat in the early 1850’s and was home to the Louis Barnhardt family and stage and express man John Garnossett. Fires in 1871 and 1880 destroyed these homes. Several small open pontil bottles were found at this site documenting the age of this early settlement. Today two partially caved in basements mark this site.
 Shady Flat
One of the mining districts of Sierra County that was laid out in the early 1850’s was that of Shady Flat. This flat is located four miles east of Downieville on the present day Highway 49. D.L. Whitney built and operated a sawmill at Shady Flat in 1855 and the remains of a stone wall which could have been the site of the sawmill still exists. One structure dating from the depression era remains at Shady Flat.
Mobile Flat
 By the mid 1850’s a small settlement was started at this flat located about a half mile east of Shady Flat. In 1858 there is mention of Dunham’s Store and Frank Beaver’s place located at this flat. In the early 1870’s a man by the name of Big Bill was advertising as the proprietor of the Shoo Fly Saloon at Mobile Flat. (reproduced at right)

Field research indicates that a camp indeed existed during the 1870’s and early 1880’s on the north side of the Yuba River at this site. Although it is said a gold rush camp was located at this site, the flooding of the Yuba River over the years, I believe, has erased any evidence of the gold rush camp. I do not have any confirmation of gold rush bottles being discovered at Mobile Flat.  During the flood of 1997 what remained of Mobile Flat was washed somewhere downstream and today only one caved in basement still remains at this site.

Jim Crow
The supposed settlement that sprang up in the early 1850’s at the mouth of Jim Crow Creek was named after Jim Crow, a Kanaka who was a member of Major Downie’s party that first prospected the North Yuba in the fall of 1849. It is hard to determine how many structures, if any, were located at this site which is now covered by the Shangri La Resort. I have not had any confirmation of gold rush bottles or even pieces of them being found at this site. Shards of gold rush era bottles have been discovered at three small flats located a short distance southwest of this site and these possibly could have been the site of Jim Crow.

Crow City
Located about two miles up the river from the supposed site of Jim Crow is a small settlement or camp which the Author contends could have been the site of Crow City. No structures remain, but when the Author visited the area several flats and partially caved in root cellars could still be recognized. The drink of choice for residents of Crow City must have been Old Sachem Bitters and Wigwam Tonic judging by the amount of broken examples of this bottle discovered at this site. As remote and out of the way as this settlement was I can imagine it sits just as I left it twenty some years ago.

Lots of shards of Old Sachem's were found at Crow City
Secret Canyon
Directly across from O’Donnels Flat and the present day State Highway Maintenance Station Secret Canyon flows into the Yuba River. It is said that the Major Downie party camped and prospected at O’Donnels Flat in the fall of 1849, but the small flat across the Yuba River at the mouth of Secret Canyon has always been of interest to the Author as a probable place that a part or all of the Downie party of twelve men could have camped and prospected. Documenting this contention is the fact that the amount of open pontil bottles and artifacts that have been discovered at this site by the Author and friends could have been the amount used by a party of twelve men camping for several days or say a week. The other fact weighing in favor of this being the site of Downie’s first camp on the North Yuba is that it is on the side of the river that the party had descended down from Secret Canyon.
            On a trail from the mouth of Secret Canyon toward the ridge about two miles is the site of a small gold rush settlement that is unnamed and is not generally known. This camp or settlement consisted of four to six structures and the bottles and artifacts discovered at the site dated from the late 1850’s to the late 1860’s. Several visits to this site and extensive research have yet to provide a name for this camp. Secret Canyon to this day holds the secret of this small settlement.
Open pontil utility bottles of the type found at Secret Canyon



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

49er Bottle & Antique Show

                              It's just around the corner!
                This years Western Round-up Display featuring
                             Cundurango's & Rosenbaum's 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Diggin' News

Here's a couple of pictures sent in from fellow digger and western bitters collector Don Dwyer and digging partner Chris Cumberland. This M. Cronan and several other bottles came out of a small trash pit here in the gold country just last week 
Nice layer shot of this western fifth
Some of the bottles recovered from the trash pit
Thanks for the pictures Don and Chris!
S.T. Drake's COLOR Run
The Reno Shootout Drake's
Check out for more on the
Drake's Plantation Bitters and other interesting bottle collecting information
Diggin' Season is just Around the Corner

I Can Tell by the Color of the Trees!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Recent Acquisitions

The Bryant's "cone" Stomach Bitters

Congratulations to a fellow western collector on the recent acquisition of one of the rarest and most desirerable of the early bitters bottles - The Bryant's Stomach Bitters cone style variant with pontil base. At this time I do not have any details on the acquisition but thought all of you would enjoy sharing the excitement of adding a very desirable bottle to your collection.

G.N.W. Bryant created what has become one of the most sought after bitters containers in the bottle collecting community. These bottles were manufactured in the east and it is believed distributed exclusively in the west during the years 1857 – 1861. The firm of William Newell & Co, an early San Francisco wholesale liquor house, were the agents for Bryant’s Stomach Bitters on the Pacific Coast.

In his advertisements Bryant claimed his bitters were an unrivaled stomach corrector and had no equal at restoring the vital energy of the entire system. He recommended a half a glass of his wine bitters before meals to impart a keen relish for food.
I believe there are less than a dozen of the cone bitters in original or repaired condition in private collections

The Two Bryant's Products
Bryan't's Ladies Leg and Cone Bitters
Meyer Collection

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Circa: 1853

In 1849, a year after gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill; Richard McDonald opened a drug store at 143 J Street in Sacramento California. McDonald’s first drug store was operated from a wood and tent structure and sometime in 1852 he took as a partner a Mr. Levy. Sometime in 1853 the partners started a traveling drug store to supply remote mining camps with medicinal supplies. McDonald and Levy’s idea of taking a wagon load of medicine and drugs to the miners was not revolutionary but their timing was perfect, few if any early mining camps at that time had a drug store. The traveling drug store was a huge success and by 1853 The Miners Drug Store of Sacramento was firmly established. Levy left the partnership around 1854 and quite possibly the embossed bottle that they are responsible for was made for only one year.
            By early 1860 the R.H. McDonald Co. was primarily a wholesale drug business with a branch office in San Francisco and an agent for William T. Cutter Whisky. One of McDonald’’s best selling products was J. Walker’s Vinegar Bitters and was responsible for the great success of his company. McDonald died in Montreal Canada in 1903.

Relation to Sierra County California

The Compound Fluid Extract of Manzanita bottle produced by McDonald and Levy is said to have contained a remedy for the rash from poison oak or ivy.
Two undamaged examples of the Manzanita bottle were found at the early gold rush settlement of American Hill by the Author in 1993. One whole example was purchased from the Forest City museum by a bottle dealer in the late 1990’s and sold at a Glassworks Auction.  Both American Hill and Forest City are located near the Henness Pass Road, an early wagon road used to reach the gold rush camps in western and southern Sierra County. The discovery of these bottles near a major gold rush road and the abundance of poison oak in that vicinity lead the author to believe that Dr. Levy’s traveling medicine show quite possibly visited the area during gold rush times. The McDonald and Levy extract of Manzanita bottle is considered very rare.