Monday, May 27, 2013

Sauce or Pickle

A pretty sauce I recently picked up. I love the old lead labels...pickles?
Must have been little guys. This one still has the tiny pickles in it. Found
25 feet below grade in SF.

 Another one with intact label. Same site in SF. Lots of history. Both
sauces ( pickles) are open pontil.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Persistence Pays

I had a couple of free hours Monday morning so I grabbed the detector and headed for a gold rush camp near town that I have been detecting for years. Over the years I have detected this site probably a dozen times.
Every time I visit this site I remove more of the useless metal around where the cabins (or tents) were located.The second time I detected this spot, with an un-named collector of gold rush era artifacts from Auburn, I found a portion of the wreath section of a gold rush belt buckle pictured below

I wasn't on the same site Monday morning for more than an hour when up popped the wreath pictured below

Now if I could just get lucky enough to find the tongue that goes with this wreath..........

You can bet I will be back to this same old site every chance I get

Portion of a stamped brass gold rush buckle with reeded edge around the wreath and a reeded  belt loop. 
I hope all of you fellow collectors have a great Memorial Day weekend and if you get a chance get out and do some digging or detecting or even some flea market or yard sale trips...There are still plenty of collectibles waiting for someone to find them!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Just in from Chuck Erickson

It never fails as soon as you mention that nothing new is being found......

Incredible green aqua Levings Sarsaparilla and Rose Willow

with double collar applied top

Side view of the Rose Willow

The base almost appears to have an open pontil

Congratulations Chuck on a great find!
(now if I can just find the picture of the one in my collection....-rs)

The Levings Sarsaparilla and Rose Willow along with a Levings Hoarhound sitting on my shelf - rs


All Quiet On the Western Front

I sure haven't received any digging reports lately so I thought I might as well go out and try to make some news myself.
Even though up here in the mountains we received over 50 inches of rain this season the ground up this way is about the consistency of concrete. Probing concrete like soil, as you know, is not a lot of fun and when you finally realize its fruitless and decide to haul out the pounder - things can go from optimistic to dismal, depending how much smoke you have in your shorts

Back in the day when I was a bit younger (and had some smoke in my shorts) the pounder was my friend. I am not saying we were good buddies but with a little hard work the pounder and I found some decent privy's and a few bottles that were keepers.
 Up this way a lot of the privy's have the tops of the holes filled with boulders and it took a pounder or some fancy probing to tell the difference between the natural ground and a man made filled hole.
 Boy, after dragging it from the truck to the site the other day, it seemed to be heavier than it was the last time I used it. As a matter of fact after dragging it on site I wasn't sure if I even wanted to use it. After a couple six or seven slams I was on my way back to the truck with the pounder in tow.

Deep blue umbrella dug in Nevada

As hard as it is to find bottles to fit in my collection at the western bottle shows, in my opinion, it is a lot easier than pounding my brains out on ground the consistency of hard pan.
On to another subject: Did you get to read the latest issue of the Federations Bottles and Extras magazine. I was  looking forward to reading the article on the Twiaba bottle. After a very enjoyable and informative read I was very impressed by the amount of research Eric McGuire did to put together this account of the marketing of Twiaba.
And how about the larger than life Ben Fitch that was behind the Twiaba product. Fitch was a true man of the west. A 49er, bartender, Sheriff of Elko Nevada, contractor, a builder of landmark western buildings and lord knows what else.
If you enjoy western history don't miss reading the May-June issue of Bottles and Extras.

Green umbrella from a Petaluma dig-
digger and digging spot to remain a mystery
unless, or course if the digger wants to spill the beans


Don't forget we have the San Diego Bottle Show coming up on Saturday June 8th. For information on the show contact Jim Walker at: 858 490-9019 or email Jim at
And the Reno Bottle Show has an earlier June date this year. The 50th anniversary of the Reno Show will be held on 28th & 29th at the Grand Sierra Resort. Here's one show you don't want to miss this year. Information: Helene Walker for Contracts, P.O. Box 1061, Verdi, Nevada 89439,
Other than these few things I have mentioned it seems "All's Quiet on the Western Front -

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Recent Acquisitions

Seems like almost once or twice a month I read online, or hear through the grapevine, about someone finding an extremely rare or unlisted bottle at a flea market, yard sale or sitting right there in front of God and everyone in the widow of an antique store.

I can assure you that the lucky person that found that one in a million bottle has never been this old collector. Heck, I go to the antique stores, flea markets and yard sales when I get the opportunity and you would think that here in the Sierra's there might be some goodies on yard sales tables. Oh, I am sure there have been some beauties found here in the mountains over the years and I guess I just have never been in the right place at the right time to be the lucky fellow to find something special.

Well that all changed the other day when I returned from the Grass Valley Old West Show and to my surprise a box of bottles was sitting there on my picnic table in my patio. An attached note was from a part time gold miner that comes to Downieville every summer stating to look through the box and see if there was anything that I might want.

After pawing through the box full of screw top bottles and a couple of crown top sodas sitting on the bottom of the box was a hutch soda embossed The Belfast Soda Water & Ginger Ale Co. San Francisco. Nothing special, nothing rare but a western soda with  western curved R's in collectable condition.
Maybe, just maybe, this is the bottle that breaks that "never found a decent bottle at a yard sale" monkey that's on my back. But more than likely a once in a lifetime fluke.

Since we are on the subject of recent finds here's a picture of what came home with me from the Golden Gate Show
Left to right
Dr. D.B. Vincent Magic Cough Cure San Francisco in what I would call green
Dickey 1850 pioneer Chemist S.F. w/ original stopper
Boericke & Tafel's Triturations yellow amber
Citrate of Magnesia H.P. Wakelee Druggist in a nice blue
Come to think of it I have been pretty lucky lately - rs

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bubblious Gaslight

Pics of a Bubblious Slick Quart Gaslight I Dug in the Central Valley, California years ago. DB

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Looking for a Needle in a Haystack

List of Finds:
broken wine bottle
2- horse shoes
1- mule shoe
3- mini balls
brass clock parts
assorted nuts, bolts and square nails
leg full of blackberry thorns
Hats Off to the Umbrella
(The Rodney Dangerfield of Bottle Collecting)
.............and while we are on the subject of umbrella inks...........
How about the bottle pictured below?
Fresh from the ground 
( a little dirty but you can see the open pontil)
All cleaned up and ready to display!

Friday, May 3, 2013

The San Francisco Gaslight Company

The San Francisco Gaslight Company
One of the most important of San Francisco's great institutions is the San Francisco Gaslight Company, whose equipment, plant and utilities are the largest of all the lighting companies west of the Missouri river. This company, during the year, moved into its handsome property on Post street near Powell, where its offices are now located. the manufacturing department is located at the foot of Laguna street, and having sufficient water front and dock privileges to permit the largest vessels to lie at its wharves. At that place also are the big petroleum tank and retort house located. The company has really a double plant–the one at the pointed named, and another–an older one–at the Potrero.
San Francisco News Letter Christmas Number, 1897

At one time collector Bill Ham had possibly the most complete collection of San Francisco Gaslight ammonia bottles.
From Bill: At one time I had about 30 colored Gaslight ammonia's. At an early Mother Lode Bottle Show in Downieville, we displayed them in a cabinet at Rick and Cherry's home.
I can still remember Bill's incredible display during the Friday night get together at our house that year. What a stunning assortment of color! If anyone has a picture of that display please forward it along to me - rs

Aaron Hill and the late Terry Adams dug a privy in Grass Valley back in the 1990's that contained at least 10 different colored Gaslight ammonia's ranging from a light blue to a crazy pink looking example. I believe at a later date they were sold to Ken Stokes.
As you can see from the photos these ammonia's come in a big variety of colors and three or four different sizes and are a rare and important piece of western bottle history.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

And all this time I thought it was a face cream