Sunday, December 30, 2012

"Check" out this Walker's...

Recently on several blogs and forums, there was again the debate as to what is "mint". Some say mint is exactly as the glass house manufactured the bottle, complete with in making defects. Others are of the opinion that a bottle must be absolutely "perfectly made" with crudity being acceptable, but and other manufacturing defects are unacceptable. Here is one which might be considered "mint" as this yellow lime olive J.Walker"s Vinegar Bitters is completely whittled and crude, but also has numerous checks and flashes from a rushed annealing process...possibly a Friday afternoon? Apparently the quality control inspection manager was in the out house when this one came through. While not "perfect", it is exactly as made and "perfect" for my collection. DM

"Diggin' News"

Here is a fresh find still acclimating to a warm home and ready for a bit of muriatic. Amazing how these bourbons traveled around the west only to be dug up in a shallow pit somewhere. I always like to think about their journey, and finally being discarded without so much as a scratch. I hope everyone is digging up the "good stuff" this Fall.

"Fresh Out of the Ground"

Beautiful F&M Portland O. fifth.
Amazing what a little muriatic bath will do!

Thanks to Dale for the digging update.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sierra County Gold rush Camps

The North Fork Bars

West from Goodyears Bar to Indian Valley

Texas Bar
Located on the north side of the North Yuba about a 1/8th of a mile west of Goodyears Creek this settlement was quite possibly founded by miners from Texas in the early 1850’s. Later mined by Chinese miners the bar was worked with water wheels and derricks. It is believed the Chinese settlement also had a Joss, or Chinese temple, erected at this site. Remains of a stone structure, with scattered Chinese pottery around it, lead me to believe that indeed, a Joss house existed at this site. The re-alignment of Highway 49 during the 1960’s partially covered this gold rush era camp.

Hoodoo Bar
This small mining camp was located one quarter mile below Goodyears Bar on the south side of the Yuba River is said to have received its name from the way the local Indians said “How do you do” sounding like Hoodoo. Although this bar was mined in the early 1850’s there is no mention of activity at this site until 1863 when a store and several houses are listed by the Sierra County Tax Collector. A foot trail from Goodyears Bar, on the south side of the Yuba River, leads to a bluff above Hoodoo Bar. On this bluff remnants of the store, cabins and gold rush era bottle shards are scattered about the area.
Rantedottler Bar
As early as 1950 this good size bar located one quarter mile below Hoodoo Bar was prospected and mined for gold. Major Downie filed a mining claim and built a cabin at this site in 1851. Mined from the 1850’s until the early 1880’s a store, warehouse, bridge and several cabins were constructed at Rantedottler Bar and gold production was steady but not spectacular. Several floods and high water have disturbed this site and little remains of this gold rush camp.
Miners working a river bar
One of the earliest and simplest way to work a river bar was done all by hand.  The miners in the background are digging out the “pay dirt” that the wheelbarrow man is ferrying to a sluice box. Part of the river has been diverted to run a water wheel that supplies the water needed to wash the pay dirt to extract the gold. On the left the half-round dark spots appear to be drift tunnels that the miners are digging into the upper area of the bar.
Cutthroat Bar/Woodville Bar
 Located a short distance above St. Joe Bar this small gold rush camp received its name supposedly from a sick German miner who cut his throat at this site. This camp should not be confused with the supply and mining camp further down the Yuba River near Canyon Creek and known as Cut-Eye Foster’s Bar. Of the little amount of information available on this site it is known that Ah Sing and Ah Chime sold to Ah Tsung a mining claim at Woodville Bar in 1865 and Ah Youw was operating a derrick and two water wheels during the same period. From this information it can be assumed that during the early 1850’s gold rush miners worked this area and later on it was re-mined by Chinese miners.
St. Joe Bar
Another settlement to develop in the vicinity of Goodyears Bar was a camp with the early name of St. Joe Bar. Founded sometime in 1850 and boosting a store as early as 1852 it was a significant enough settlement to hold a meeting in 1852 of several hundred miners to determine the mining laws of the district. In the mid 1850’s the bar was renamed Ramshorn and re-mined by Chinese miners. Chinese pottery, gold rush bottles and artifacts have been found in the area documenting the early settlement of this site. The United States Forest Service’s Indian Rock Picnic Ground now occupies St. Joe Bar.
Map of the North Fork Bars from Goodyears Bar to Indian Valley
Indian Valley
Pack Trails to the North Yuba principal towns of the early 1850’s, Downieville, Goodyears Bar and Brandy City, circumvented Indian Valley because of the poor condition of the trails through the area. A small settlement started here in the mid 1850’s but not until a good road was built from Indian Hill to Indian Valley in the late 1850’s did the area begin to develop. The road from Indian Hill to Indian Valley traveled down a steep grade to the south bank of the North Yuba River, where a toll bridge and ferry serviced travelers using the road. Indian Valley did grow in the late 1850’s and according to Bill Meek in his book, The Life Story of Bill Meek “The population of Indian Valley at that time (1859) consisted of whites, Chinese, and Indians – one camp that had no colored population. There were 19 white families, three who had tied up with Indian Women; 150 single miners; 110 Chinese; and 300 Indians”. Indian Valley continued to grow in the 1860’s and the recovery of gold was steady but not spectacular. The settlement expanded and was located on both the north and south side on the Yuba River.
Extensive dragline dredging of the Indian Valley area prior to World War Two has destroyed any evidence of gold rush activity and left the landscape littered with scores of boulder piles. Campgrounds and a small store and restaurant now rest on this site. At a cabin site on the trail from Indian Hill to Indian Valley a broken Catawba Wine Bitters and pieces of a Lediard’s Stomach Bitters were un-earthed in the mid 1990’s.



 Bears Grease was used for everything from boot grease to pie crust during the gold rush.
 Dozens of examples of different  kinds of pot lids have been discovered in Sierra County



Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sierra County Gold Rush Camps

The North Fork Bars
West From Downieville to Goodyears Bar
" A Bar is a deposit of alluvial material above or below the water line of current streams. Bars form where the current slows or changes direction. Early gold rush camps were often built on larger bars"

Josephine Bar
There is not much information available on Josephine Bar except for the fact that in James Sinnott’s book “Downieville Gold Town on the Yuba” a map drawn by Sinnott shows Josephine Bar directly across the Yuba River from the mouth of Slug Canyon.
The North Yuba River has experienced several major floods since the gold rush era and this small bar has virtually disappeared.
 Little Rich Bar
Philo Haven is credited with the founding of this site in September of 1849. While mining at Cut-Eye Foster’s Bar in August of that year Haven had met an Indian that possessed a gold nugget that was larger than any of those that were being found at Foster’s Bar and persuaded the Indian to lead him to the place where the nugget was found. The Indian indicated a spot directly across the river from the soon to be settlement of Coyoteville as the source of the nugget. On that spot Haven dug out an ounce and one half nugget and filed a claim at that location the same day. This site did not have an area large enough for a camp or settlement.
Big Rich Bar
Big Rich Bar was located a short distance east of Coyoteville and on the north side of the Yuba River. In September of 1849 several mining location notices of the Hedgepath & Company were already posted at this site. Although this bar was heavily mined I do not believe a settlement developed here. In the summer of 2008 a rare gold rush belt buckle was recovered from Big Rich Bar.
Founded in 1850 by Alec Donovan the small camp of Coyoteville sits a mile west of Downieville where Coyote Creek meets the North Yuba River. By 1852 two or three companies of miners were making good wages and extensive ground sluicing was being conducted at the mouth of Coyote Creek. In 1853 Samuel Stanley filed a claim on the water of Coyote Creek for the purpose of bringing it around the mountainside to Downieville where it would be used for sluicing gravel.
Mining continued at Coyoteville well into the middle 1860’s and the “diggings” produced some astounding amounts of placer gold. Wing dams and flumes constructed at Coyoteville drained the river bottom and allowed miners to work crevices that had been overlooked during the early ground sluicing of the area.
Today a restaurant, some cabins and one private home are standing among the large piles of boulders left over from the extensive gold rush era ground sluicing.

Cox’s Bar
A mining settlement of significant size developed at this site midway between Goodyears Bar and Downieville on the north side of the Yuba River in 1850. By 1854 a hotel known as the Empire House, Mikesell’s Saloon and a store run by O.F. Ackerly was providing services and goods for the miners of the settlement.
Fairly rich the bar was mined well into the late 1860’s and has been continually inhabited since the gold rush era. In later years an orchard was planted on the sloping ground overlooking the diggings and produced apples, pears, peaches and cherries.
On the west side of the bar boulder piles, left from early day ground sluicing and hydraulic mining, can still be seen. Cox’s Bar is still inhabited by two Sierra County families.
O.F. Ackerly originally opened a store in Cox’s Bar in 1854 but with the decline of that camp moved his business to Goodyears Bar
Snake Bar
In 1850 Snake Bar was the largest of the several concentrations of miners between Goodyears Bar and Downieville. The gently sloping land was sizable enough to accommodate a large settlement and the placer ground was extremely rich making this an ideal area for settlement. The bars on both sides of the North Yuba River, and the riverbed itself, were mined extensively until the gold was exhausted. Following the fire that destroyed the business district of Goodyears Bar in 1864 a flume was built from Snake Bar to provide water to mine the ground where the destroyed buildings stood. It is said that the first white child born in Sierra County, Sierra Woodall, was born at Snake Bar. Sometime in the 2000’s the United States Forest Service set fire to the last remaining cabin at Snake Bar. Today trout anglers and river rafters are about the only people to visit Snake Bar.

Map of the North Fork Bars from Downieville to Goodyears Bar
Ham Bar
Discovered in 1850 Ham Bar is located about a half mile below Snake Bar. Fairly rich the bar and river bed was worked well into the late 1860’s. Because of the small amount of land available for the building of cabins Ham Bar did not develop into a gold rush settlement of consequence. The majority of the miners working the bar lived at Snake Bar and walked the short half mile to the diggings. Field research indicates that Chinese miners worked this bar during the waning years of the gold rush. Later mining efforts to mine the ancient river channel in this area were not very successful and today only two people live at the site of Ham Bar.




Monday, December 24, 2012

To all our Friends, Collectors and the folks that contributed Posts to the Western Bitters News over the past year

Three Squares
Aqua Wonser's
Colored Wines
Blue minature Milk Can
Some sort of green bottle
 Sierra County Finds

Pratt's New Life
Western Fifths
 Ol' Virginny

Three "Cunder's"
Two Happy Wine Tasters at the 2012 Downieville Bottle Show

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sierra County Gold Rush Bottles

Circa: 1848 - 1858

Abraham B. Sands of New York City opened his first retail drug store sometime around 1840. In 1842 he expanded his horizons and opened a wholesale store at another location installing David Sands in the original retail store. By 1843 Sands has published a pamphlet on the curative properties of their sarsaparilla product   Sometime in early 1850 the firm of A B & D Sands emerged as a wholesale and retail drug company and were advertising regularly in local newspapers.
By 1851 David retired, was replaced by William Sands, and the firm was listed as A.B. Sands & Co. After 1851 Sands & Co. became primarily a wholesale drug operation. Sands produced other products (Horehound Cough Syrup, Liquid Opeldoc and Anodyne Liniment) but his sarsaparilla was by far his best seller. A.B. Sands & Co. continued in business until 1875 when the company was dissolved.
Pictured at right is the earliest example of the Sands Sarsaparilla. It has widely beveled corners and is embossed on three panels SANDS SARSAPARILLA NEW YORK. The Sand’s Sarsaparilla was distributed throughout the Sierra County gold rush country. Open pontil examples of the Sand’s have been found in the settlements of Chaparral Hill, Excelsior and Monte Cristo. These bottles are considered very scarce but as with all gold rush era bottles are highly collectable. The Sand’s that I have examined, that were recovered from Sierra County, are usually pretty crude, highly whittled and usually come out of the ground without mineral staining
Pictured at left is a copy of a Sand's Sarsaparilla advertisement. The second variant of the Sand's bottle, on the right side of the ad, is being filled with the sarsaparilla product. Sand's sarsaparilla was "The Very Best Remedy for Purifying the Blood"

Pictured at right is the later variant of the Sands bottle that was produced sometime after 1858. It still has a pontil base, but is a larger size, different shape, and has “GENUINE” embossed on one panel.
One whole example of the second variant of the Sands was recovered from the gold rush settlement of Excelsior in the early 1990’s. Two examples were recovered from Plum Valley and another mint example was un-earthed at Brandy City by a Nevada City digger. Numerous broken examples have been found at Monte Cristo, Poker Flat, Chaparral Hill and Rattlesnake. This variant of the Sands is considered more common than the earlier example with the widely beveled corners but is still a scarce and collectable gold rush bottle.

Future posts will feature some of the gold rush settlements  in Sierra County where these  early glass containers have been discovered


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Welcome to My World

This Fall, I secured permission at a circa 1880 house in a Western town. The temperature was 105 and the permission was solid, so after probing 3 pits, I arranged to come back when the weather was cooler. Mistake #1. A few weeks ago, I returned alone to open up the first pit which was a five footer, and stacked with whole glass at about 3 feet under an ash layer. The fill included some misc. local stuff and some eastern meds, with the best find being a yellow topaz ground top mason...pretty sweet for the top two feet.
 The sky opened up and being alone and unprepared for heavy rains that day, I filled the hole in again to return the following week after the rains subsided...Mistake #2.

 This past weekend was raining again, but undaunted and determined, I brought a canopy, submersible pump, tons of buckets, tubs and tarps..( you ever see what a few thousand gallons of black muddy water does to a nice yard, or the slick going down the street in to a storm drain)? Anyway, at one foot the earth opened up and the raging torrent gurgling from the ground was impossible to bucket...out came the pump. This is a 1200 GPM submersible pump, and apparently it does not like chocolate milk going through it as even with a screen and a bucket it quit after a couple of minutes. Gentle probing indicates quite a few whole bottles and pottery at three to five feet under the ash. This lot became a debacle and I will buy a mud pump this week to finally recover the slick meds which likely await me! Ah Winter digging in the Valley! Stay tuned. Dale M.

Hi Rick,
Would you be so kind as to add this photo to my "wet hole" post? I cannot seem to do it with my phone.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sierra County Gold Rush Bottles

Davis Vegetable Pain Killer
Perry Davis of Taunton Massachusetts started marketing his Pain Killer as early as 1839. In a court case in 1840 Davis was awarded the exclusive right to the use of the words “Pain Killer” in conjunction with all of his medicines that were to follow. This decision set a precedent and you can well imagine the implications that the Perry decision imposed on his competition.
 Davis Vegetable Pain Killer is believed to be the first nationally advertised remedy specifically for pain. Pain Killer was distributed by Christian missionaries around the world. Davis later went on to build his company into one of the most successful merchandisers of medicinal products of the 19th century.
 The earliest of the Davis Pain Killer products is in a five inch tall rectangular bottle that has an open pontil base and is usually fairly crude.
The Davis Company manufactured and sold the pain killer well into the 1890’s and produced at least twenty different variants of the bottle in three different sizes.
Davis Vegetable Pain Killer was one of the most popular and bestselling medicines from the start of the gold rush to the turn of the century and is found in all of the camps and towns in Sierra County that were occupied during that period.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Unknown "Star"

 After seeing Dale's post on that Star Bitters with the wrong label. Which I have seen many times. I have decieded to expose my one of a kind "Star". I have had this bottle in my collection for some time now and not one of the Sacramento collectors has ever seen this labeled bottle or one since. Not even The Great Dolcini, whom I got the box from as a go with, a couple years ago. It seems that these Sacramento bitters companies like sticking labels on whatever bottle looks good.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

"Wait...It is a Star"

When my financial services career gets in the way of my passion for glass, I either go digging, travel to a bottle show, or hit the junk shops. Today was "junk shop day" and I had visions of blue Wolf Barrel's or green Angeli S.F. flasks. Such was not the case today, but in the back of a dark cabinet, I noticed an amber square with it's neck foil and cork. After digging through the ACL sodas, I was surprised to find a very crude western bitters! This is a Star Kidney and Liver Bitters, with a Wait's label and neck foil. There are about half of the contents remaining, and they look tasty! I have seen the Star Bitters before, and the Wait's brand. I was not aware of a connection.
 I know this is not a super old or rare bitters, but it was a nice surprise for a stressful day of managing funds, and benefits plans.

  Any other antique or junk shop finds lately? Dale M

Hi Dale;
Back in the 80's when I had a fairly complete collection of western squares, I had two variants of the Star Kidney and Liver B itters. They were quite similar; the difference being that the embossing pattern on one was slightly tilted to the right at the top, whereas the other was straight up and down.

 I did quite a bit of research at the time on the company and found out that Star was actually a competitor to Wait; both originally doing business out of Sacramento . 415 19th St. to be exact. According to Wilso, Star B itters Co. was owned by the Heilrath B ros., along with a Wm. Kliensage, who joined in a couple years after the inception of the company in 1908. Although it was rumored that the company moved to San Francisco in 1912, I found documentation contradicting this in the form of the Treasury Dept. / IRS records of 1917, which clearly states that the Star B itters Company was still located in Sacramento at that time. The National Drug Clerk of the same year reinforces this.
Getting back to the anomaly of a Waits label on a Star B itters, I'd have to side with Warren . Wait was located at 531 J St . in Sac. B oth bottles were blown by SFPGW and both company's were in business at the same time. Perhaps a shipment got mixed up and being fierce competitors neither wanted to communicate with the other. Wait figured he'd get a credit for the botched deal, keep the bottles and end up with some free glass. (Wow! there's some conjecture! rs) However, most of the pirated labeled bottles that I've encountered over the years had the paper applied over the embossing. There's no doubt in my mind that yours is the real deal; the neck foil is the proof in the pudding.

Verrry interesting~


Here's a map of their respective locations. A is Star, B is Waits


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Just in from Denny Bray

Hi Guys,
Seen your comments about the fifths Roger uses for his blog-site cover. I sure miss those babies. Here's 3 of the original pics. My photo skills suck so bad it's pitiful, but that day I guess I lucked out. I sure miss those whiskies! The only one I still have is my F&P J Cassins out of the 5 in the picture. It's about the lighest amber one I've seen, close to the one Ted Siri owns.
 I'll send you another group of 5 others I took on the same day. Tom, you'll recognize one of them.
 Rick, while I got you on the email... Thank you for posting the info about Dolcini on your Western Bitters News. 
 Take care fellas,
Denny Bray
Here's the other 5 whiskies. Sometimes Roger uses one of these pictures on his blog cover, but I'm not sure which one.

Tom, recognize that Laurel Crown? It was your old one. Man, that example had a great strike!
The only one I still have out of these five is the green Teakettle.

 You may not believe me, but my favorite out of the 10 of them was the Tom Taylor. In fact, I think it was my favorite fifth. It came from VC years past and ol Tom Chapman shook it out of a collection, then I ended up with it. Man, I've got to quick reminiscing about these western fifths. Next thing you know I'll be selling off my EC&M's and sodas to start collecting whiskies again! LOL!!

 If I don't see or talk to you guys before then, I wish all of you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas!

It would not surprise me to hear Denny is back collecting western fifths

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Can't You Just Feel It?

 Here in the West, we have been absolutely hammered by Biblical proportion rains...This after a very dry Summer for us where a pounder probe had been a must. I cannot just sit around all Summer waiting for the ground to soften, and after digging all of my previously probed pits, one must fight the triple digit heat. Now, the rains have come, the "lookie Lou's" are back indoors, and digging season is ON!.
 I was cleaning out my vehicle last week and stumbled upon an old disposable camera which I used to bring on weekly digs and capture a bit of the action. I love looking at digging photos, and with today's smart phones, one can send a pic to your buddies before the glass is extracted from the ground. These fuzzy old "film" pictures were a delayed enjoyment, but are fun to look at again.
  This was a solid petrified parking lot pit a few years ago, with a nice black saratoga seeing the light of day. Fun Stuff! If anyone wishes to post a dig pic or two, that would be great. DM