Tuesday, January 29, 2013

V. Squarza

 The V. Squarza bottle has been surrounded by speculation as to what it actually contained. One thing is for certain...it is a beautiful, early and rare piece of western blown glass.It is also the only embossed bottle from Squarza. Until the first example was brought to auction in 1996, I had never seen an example of this blue bottle, and when four examples were dug in San Francisco in 1998, I got to handle one for the first time. The crude glass is truly a wonder to behold, and it was a few years later when I was finally able to add one to my collection.
  I have heard all sorts of opinions as to whether this was a punch, cordial or bitters, and thanks to Warren Freidrich's extensive research and chapter in his book about early glass making in the west, it has become apparent to many, that this was indeed a bitters...most likely Squarza's Hygenic Bitters, or Cholera Antidote Bitters. Some purists will dig their heels in and theorize that since the word "bitters" was not actually embossed, it could be any product that Squarza sold, but being a "fancy" and blue bottle with embossing, it surely was not cheap to produce, or sell,( $2.00 per bottle), so I for one believe it was for a bitters which was introduced in December of 1864. There are so many ads placed by V. Squarza from 1863 into the 1880s( when Vincent did not actually own the company at that point), however in the Daily Alta dated December 28th 1865 there is the first mention of Squarza winning first premium at the Industrial Fair- Mechanics' Institute for his "Hygienic Bitters".  In the February 7th 1865 Daily Alta, this product is advertised as winning "First premium" as well. The next ad from the Sacramento Daily Union dated April, 3rd 1865 again advertises the "Hygienic Bitters" and once again in the December 6th 1865 San Francisco Chronicle the ad was for Squarza's" Anti Dyspeptic and Hygienic Bitters". In August of 1866 there was a large ad solely with the product "Cholera Antidote Bitters" and was advertised as being "Prepared after the most successful experiments, both in Europe and America" and " They have proved to be the only safe and permanent antidote of that malignant disease" PRICE $2.00 per bottle" This is most likely the product sold in the blue bottle.
  V. Squarza was a very colorful character in San Francisco during the 1860s, wearing his fancy Italian costume with red top hat. Apparently he wasted no occasion to party, and was known for his wild antics.
  These colorful pieces of western blown history are a tangible reminder of some of the most wild times in the settling of the west. I have not heard of another example being found since the "big dig" of 1998. To my knowledge, there are exactly 5 examples in collections, but I would be interested in knowing whether more have been found and if so, where these "bitters" were distributed. If they were advertised in Sacramento, have any been found there? It would seem that there were literally thousands of bottles of Squarza's punches, and cordials sold...most likely in cheap unembossed bottles. One of his ads is for "Egg Nog Punch" WOW! That sounds so yummy! Squarza also invented his very own version of the dispensing "tap" mechanism which allowed customers to fill their own bottle, jar, or bucket with the flavored punches. It would appear that V.Squarza was a real volume driven seller of the "juice" and to go the great expense of creating a fancy blue bottle embossed with his name would not seem consistent with his huge punch business. I personally believe this bottle was indeed for either the Hygienic Bitters, or the Cholera Antidote Bitters.

 OK...I will quit posting for now, as I do not wish to be a "post hog". DM

Sunday, January 27, 2013

M. Seller & Co. Portland, O.

 The firm of M. Seller & Company was one of the largest in the west devoted to the jobbing and importing of crockery, glassware, tinware, stoves, and house furnishing goods.They occupied eight floors of offices, showrooms and a retail outlet for their goods at the corner of fifth and Pine streets in Portland. They also had large warehouses at Thirteenth and Kearney streets directly on the tracks of the then "transcontinental"  railroad. His business was established in 1859 ( the year of Oregon statehood) by Moses Seller. He moved to Frankfort on the Main in Germany in 1890 but was in charge of the company until it closed in 1909. Moses was born in Germany, and was a pioneer who made the long trek  to the Oregon Territory in 1852 where he opened a general mercantile in Corvallis, Or.. In 1859 he moved to Portland, opening a small wholesale crockery, tinware, and household furnishings on Front and Stark Streets. This was at the time the center of Portland's business district, and Moses Seller's business grew to great dimensions. His watchful eye and foresight allowed his business to grow until it became one of the largest on the West Coast.In 1889 Seller opened branches in Seattle and Spokane. The business was never incorporated but was a partnership between himself, Phillip Lowengart, F.M. Seller ( Moses' son) and Sanford Lowengart.
  The wax sealer type fruit jar was used beginning in 1881 and continued until 1883. These rare jars come in both half gallon, and quart sizes, and are typically crude and pristine San Francisco glass. The mold for the Cutting and Co. jar was altered to produce both the San Francisco Glass Works jar, and the M.Seller. I know of the M. Seller jars being dug in Oregon and Washington, and they are rumored to have been found in California as well. As important as food preservation was at the time, it is a wonder that all of the western wax sealers are rare to extremely rare. I believe that the western glasshouses were transitioning to the "new" Mason's patent and Gem jars with the screw type closure. The Victory jar from Pacific Glass Works is the western patent which was "borrowed" from W.W. Lyman of Pennsylvania. I think the scarcity of the western wax sealer is simply due to the transitioning to this new closure rather than the relatively primitive wax seal with tin top.
 These gorgeous jars have the curved "R"s and beautiful clarity indicative of western glass. I believe there are about 12-15 quarts known to collectors in any condition, and maybe 6 of the half gallons in collections. I love Oregon glass( maybe one of a handful of collectors who do), and the tie in to San Francisco in it's manufacture makes this an especially desirable piece for Oregon collectors and fruit jar collectors nationwide.
  About 10 years ago, I was able to purchase the beautiful 25X25 brass sign which was recovered from a demo project in Spokane. It is the only one I have ever seen, but have heard that another may exist in Portland.

 While not my collecting focus ( western bitters), these pretty jars represent a time in our history where merchant's immortalized themselves in glass for all of us glass addicts to covet.

Friday, January 25, 2013


Today Jan. 25th and Saturday Jan. 26th
See you there - rs

Monday, January 21, 2013

Step right up!

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls. Step right up! Be the first on your block to own a genuine;

"Antique Civil War Era St. Drakes 1860 PLANTATION BITTERS Top Shelf PUCE CABIN"

"The bottle is in excellent condition. It has an unusual, shortened top which is very smooth and dramatic looking."
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Courtesy of ebay and listing #321057929604

W. C. Fields was right - there's a bid on it.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Janurary 25 & 26


Setup Friday Jan 25th 2:00 to 8:00 pm Early lookers $5.00 includes dinner
Saturday Show and Sale 9:00 am to 4:00 pm Free Admission Sandwiches, drinks etc, available at a modest cost
Contact: Phil McDonald
3646 Mt. Ashland Ave
Redding CA 96001
530 243-6903

Beautiful Mt. Shasta
See ya there - rs

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Alpine Herb Bitters

  Here is a nice western bitters which comes in both tooled top, and applied top. The references I have reviewed over the years indicates that the Alpine herb Bitters ( T.T. & Co monogram on reverse) ranges from extremely rare ( Wilson 1968) to scarce ( Ring/Ham) with only the tooled top version being listed in the former. In Ring/Ham this bottle is listed as "extremely rare" with an applied top, and I have only seen a handful in this configuration. Supposedly this bitters had a very short life and was produced only for a year or so. I wonder then why the difference in top treatment? Does anyone have a handle on the ratio of tooled top and applied? This is one of a few bottles from the Thomas Taylor Company which includes the ever popular "Virginia N." fifth and sixth, slug plate fifth from the later 1880s and the pint shoofly flask in clear from Virginia City. I would be interested to know also the distribution area of this bitters and where they have been dug.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Will the Real John Snow Please Stand Up!

Just in from Eric McGuire:

There has been a flurry of Snow comments lately and I thought I would add to the issue.

Here’s what I know about John Francis Snow.  Born in Burlington, Middlesex, MA, about 1820, he married Charlotte Lucretia Reed there on 19 Sep 1839.  His whereabouts are unknown to me until the middle 1840’s when he opened a book stand in nearby Boston for a few years.  By 1849 Snow landed a job as a policeman in Boston, even though he is listed in the 1850 census as a “trader”.

In 1852 he gave notice that he was leaving his job, and Boston, for California. The Boston Daily Atlas of 14 January 1852 reported, "On Monday evening, Mr. John F. Snow, an officer of the Washington Associates, Ex-3's, and also a police officer, who is about leaving with his family for California, was presented with a splendid revolver by the Associates, through Capt. A. F. Bressey".  Snow apparently headed straight for Marysville, CA, for he and Charlotte are listed there in the 1852 census, which was scheduled 12 June 1852.  He soon got a job as the jailer for Yuba County.  A rather startling jailbreak in 1853,  that even involved Charlotte, probably gave him pause about the safety of his job. Charlotte was reportedly seriously injured and awarded the sum of $100 for her heroism in attempting to stop the break.  John and Charlotte left California perhaps by 1857, but certainly by 1860 he and his wife were back in their home town of Burlington, MA, where he was listed as a farmer.

Nevertheless, he again left for California, this time heading for San Francisco, arriving there on 19 October 1864.   He was advertising his dyeing works there in early 1865. The 1865 San Francisco directory listed Snow as, "coloring and cleansing gloves, silks, feathers, and agent patent medicines".  While his ads list all the dye services he offered there is no mention of hair dye of his own manufacture at that time.

Snow did function as an agent for Ring’s Vegetable Ambrosia as early as 1865, which was an Eastern made hair restorative, and in the early 1870’s he was agent for Connell’s East India Remedies (The Moon Plant bottle with the feet embossed).

He continued in the dyeing and cleaning trade for a number of years, apparently quite successfully.  Snow also dabbled in real estate and investment mining.  By 1880 he sold his business to his partner, Charles J. Holmes.  In the sale of the business Holmes also purchased the right to use his old partner’s name, “John F. Holmes & Co.”. But within two years Snow constructed a building directly in front of, and on the same lot as his old business.  Needless to say, Holmes was steaming mad and took him to court.  This began legal squabbling that lasted for years.  Snow was able to gain his old business name back and continued in the dyeing trade until he died, in San Francisco, on  10 June 1897. Charlotte continued the business until she died there in 1904. They had no children.

The only time that John F. Snow advertised his hair dye, VICTORY,  was in 1874.  I am not sure why the product appears to be so short lived, but I’ll bet it didn’t perform very well.  Snow also


The 1874 business directory advertisement for John F. Snow’s VICTORY.

became involved with the Centennial Exhibition as he was chosen as a delegate to judge San Francisco companies who wished to participate in that grand showing of this country’s wealth and ingenuity.
After the termination of the Fair, John and Charlotte also took a long vacation back to Bulington, MA, to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in 1879.
A big thank you to Eric for this great piece of history! -  rs

Friday, January 11, 2013


The Post and comments on the Snow's Victory got me to thinking about the time frame of the Snow's bottle. The general consensus of the comments lean towards the mid 1860's as the date of manufacture of the bottle. The Snow's has been found in privy's dating from the mid 1860's and also from privy's dating to the 1870-71 era.
Snow is reported to be in Marysville from 1850 to 1867 and then moved to San Francisco.
 "There is mention of a product in the San Francisco directory referring to a "Snow's Victory" but the product was a coloring dye. It is not known for certain that this was the same product, or even the same person"

I had a chance to visit with Warren Friedrich yesterday and our conversation turned to the Snow's bottle and how to try and put a manufacture date on the bottle. Warren pointed out that if you look at the Snow's bottle and the Dr. Wonser's cylinder the letter font is identical even including the apostrophe on both bottles. The Wonser's is a post 1869 era bottle from all the information I have gathered.

As for the contention that "Apparently John F. Snow was listed in the 1867 S.F, directory indicates that Snow was advertising a hair restorative in San Francisco in both 1867 and 1868! This was in addition to products for cleansing, dying silks. So it would seem that in from about 1854 through 1867 Snow lived in Marysville and subsequently moved to San Francisco. While this bottle could have contained any of his products, it is likely the hair restorative was sold in this bottle." doesn't hold water. Until more evidence is found I believe it is just wishful thinking that the product in the Victory bottle was a hair restorative.
And about the date of manufacture......................


Thursday, January 10, 2013

What's This Coming Out of the Ground?
Why isn't that a Wreath from a Gold Rush Era Belt Buckle!
New Book on Gold Rush Belt Buckles
This is a  limited edition printing and is 136 pages, all color with approximately sixty buckles, fifty dags and advertising from early directories Cost is $50 per copy plus shipping. If interested please contact:
 Max Bell
 852 Holly Hills Dr Auburn, CA 95603.  blessedx5@sbcglobal.net

Monday, January 7, 2013

John F. Snow's Victory

  In my collection I have a pretty green bottle which I do not know much about. It is 6" tall with a crude top and early smooth base. Slightly resembling a jamaica ginger but larger, it is embossed " John F. Snow's Victory". This bottle is a bit of a mystery to me, but from what I understand it is extremely rare with all known examples coming from one pit several years ago in Marysville, Cal.
  In discussing this bottle with Lou Lambert, I have learned that John F. Snow lived in Marysville beginning in 1850. He owned property and a business in Marysville's business district in the mid 1860s and these bottles date from about this time frame. The lot where the handful of these bottles were found two doors down from the business location.There is no mention of John F. Snow in Marysville after 1868 and the exact contents of the bottle are not completely known. There is mention of a product in the San Francisco directory referring to a "Snow's Victory" but the product was a coloring dye. It is not known for certain that this was the same product, or even the same person.

 The bottle does appear to be the same form as some coloring dye's, but it also looks like a medicine. I believe there are 7 known examples...all from the same pit. Four or five are aqua and two or so are in this shade of lime green. I would appreciate any feedback regarding this early bottle. DM

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Recent Aquisitions

Just in from Chris Cumberland :
Hi Rick,
I just wanted to share a recent find. I have been collecting Western Beer’s for the last eleven years. In this time I have never heard of, or seen a cobalt blue quart of any kind eastern or western. You see the “slick” Anheuser Bush pints from time to time with the ABGCo base marks but today I found a quart. Sadly it also is a “slick”. That being said here is the good part. This one has the 1880’s “mushroom” top and is base embossed with a familiar Star indicative of San Francisco and Pacific Glass Works. The glass is sparkling clean and screams Western to me, but I am no expert. I though maybe you and the followers of the blog could weigh in on the matter. Has anyone come across one of these before? And more importantly Eastern or Western?


Beautiful Blue Beer
1880's Mushroom style top
How about the star on this base!
Thanks Chris for sharing your recent find

Walker's Vinegar Bitters

There is a very comprehensive post over on the Peachridge site on Dr. Walker's Vinegar Bitters
Check it out!


Tuesday, January 1, 2013


After a quick check of the ebay offerings this morning I noticed this beautiful western bitters.  Described as Here is a pretty example of this rare western bitters. This one is embossed "Hierapicra Bitters, Extract of Figs, Botanical Society, California". These were sold out of Angels Camp, Cal. and are rare. The color is a deep blue aqua with a very drippy applied top, circa 1875. The "Rs" have the curved leg indicative of San Francisco glasshouses of the time. The height is an impressive 9 3/4" and the embossing is bold. There is a match head size paper thin open bubble on the right side of the neck, but otherwise this is a top specimen. A beautiful western bitters!"  And I would have to agree - it is a rare and beautiful  western bitters.

If you are interested in this bottle here's the link:


And for you western soda collectors here's a Pacific Congress Water and the link to the auction site: