Sunday, June 9, 2013

Repros. A legitimate place in the hobby?

It's not western, but it is a bitters - sort of.

Recently, a discussion started over on the Peachridge site, regarding reproduction bottles.

Repros. It's an issue that needs to be taken seriously. Much like the 3D printed gun, technology is evolving to the point where just about anything can now be cloned into a fully functional duplicate.

Well, almost anything. Just maybe not an old bottle. However, accurate reproductions of classic American glass have been produced since the Clevenger Brothers first cranked out the GVII-3 E. G. Booz in the 1930's. And 80 years later some folks are trying to pass these off as the real deal.

A little over ten years ago, a company by the name of Dog River Glassworks contracted with a major motion picture company to produce some of the props for Gods and Generals.

Dog River got their start making reproduction bottles for Civil War Enactments. And they did a pretty good job of it. Their ad stated, "We are the only company in the world making a reproductions of Civil War Era Bottles, Table Ware and Other Home Furnishings".  Their forte, at that time, was the recreation of cathedral pickles, USA Hospital Dept. bottles, US Navy Pepper and US Navy Mustard, along with some pretty convincing period black glass that closely resembled early to mid 19th century vessels. To their credit, they worked very hard to make sure that their products could not be confused with, and hence resold as, the real deal.


According to an email that I received several years ago from the owners of the firm, their "old world craftsman", who had been responsible for their success, passed away and when the existing supply of bottles was exhausted, Dog River Glassworks ceased to exist.

Recently, a company with a very similar name, Dog River Glass Company appeared on the scene. They too, are offering reproduction bottles through a website.
And to their credit, the first email contact I received from them said "You are aware that these are reproductions, aren't you?" Unfortunately the web photos are of poor quality and one can't tell with any certainty how well their repros are executed. Emails to the firm, along with photos of an original Old Sachems and a pair of Drakes, posed the question, "How well executed are your repros compared to the original Drakes and Sachems?" I attached photos of a couple of originals off my shelf to make things easy for them.
This question was ignored time and again, despite being repeated three times. Why, I wondered? It's a simple question.

They did respond immediately when I inquired about stocking levels, cost etc. etc. But when I attempted to place an order through their website, the check out page locked up tight as a drum, stating "product is not available". I sent another email to them questioning whether the bottles were actually available. They replied, "They are in stock, so do not worry". Still no answer about the quality of the reproduction, only "The prices are too cheap as they are now." Ok, so they are evasive, somewhat unprofessional and their website doesn't work...  

The emergence of these reproduction cabins and barrels brings to memory the EC&M debacle of several years ago. Granted, the individuals who pulled off that disaster were scammers who defrauded even the most experienced insulator collectors. But let's say that they went about it in the "right way" and sold them for what they were, fantasy pieces. Fine you say. But what happens after the pieces have changed hands several times and twenty or so years have gone by, dulling memories.

The "new and improved" Dog River seems to be above the board, although they could use a course in business 101.

But, lets suppose their repros are good, really good. So good that you can't tell them from the real McCoy. If they are indeed "dead on", it brings up the question, where do repros fit into the grand scheme of collecting?

And what happens if someone decides to recreate a Dr. Wonsers USA Indian Root Bitters or say a Dr. Boerhaaves? Or worse yet, a green Dr. Renz's? Food for thought...


Let's hear some input!

Dog River U.S.A. Hospital reproductions
Various Dog River reproductions
(photos courtesy Peachridge Glass)


  1. Some of those "recreations" are would be pretty easy to create a western square or whiskey! I would like to handle some of these and see if it is easy to tell that they are reproductions...those Sachem's really look good and after a passing through a few different owners, they might not be represented as not being old. We saw what happened to E.C. & M. insulators during the fakes being produced! Be careful all! DM

  2. Another thought...if Dog River really is above board, there SHOULD be some sort of identifying mark, IE; an embossed date, or some different type of embossing...even on the base although someone COULD grind down this embossing. I cannot believe that the Civil War re-enactment crowd really needs an IDENTICAL version, and if designed to be fantasy pieces for re-enactments, a reputable manufacturer should make them easy to identify. DM

  3. The Findlay Bottle Club blog has a photo of 6 of Dog River's fruit jars, courtesy of Larry Munson --

    Marking repros will always be a source of contention. Marks can be ground off, fake pontils can be added.

    We just have to be vigilant about documenting the fakes and repros as we come across them, and continue to educate. It will be a never ending battle.

    FYI, the Dog River website:

  4. Dog River Glass is also on Facebook - I've been squabbling with the owner - he refuses to put a maker's mark on his bottles - he is defiant and must be watched. Chuck E.

  5. Its just purely greed and bad business in my opinion, for sure Not Good for the Hobby. I saw some black glass case gins on Ebay, they looked funky, the seller did list them as reproductions, but, I saw an article I think in the Federation mag on fruit jars and they looked really good, scary good. I wonder if they are lighter or have that greasy glass feel? They could have an impact on trust that's for sure. I tend to stick to the sellers at shows and online that I know and have done business with, good results business. I used to think well, if you polish or clean a bottle, that is altering it, but, that is way minor compared to buying what one might think is a good old example and finding out differently. If You Have Info on these Reproductions, Please Share it with us.

  6. I just ordered an Old Sachems bitters bottle from these people, and completed checkout ok. If and when I get it, I will have a friend of mine post some pics here.....Andy Volkerts

  7. This really turns my stomach, but any hobby can survive this by being diligent with education. Samples must be gathered, studied and differences noted. Reports must be shared in all public mediums on a constant basis. I’d suggest that the FOHBC assemble an educational exhibit containing fake and reproduction samples that can be displayed at the National or major shows, maybe even seminars. There’s nothing like seeing and learning in person. When any of these items happen to pass through your hands, make sure you deeply engrave them on the base with the word ‘FAKE’ or ‘REPRO’. This can be done with an electric engraver or a diamond tipped pen (I use the latter). Sure, someone may attempt to polish it out, but at least you did your part.

  8. Interesting discussion on this Dog river firm. Bruce stated in his post:
    "Emails to the firm, along with photos of an original Old Sachems and a pair of Drakes, posed the question, "How well executed are your repros compared to the original Drakes and Sachems?" I attached photos of a couple of originals off my shelf to make things easy for them.
    This question was ignored time and again, despite being repeated three times. Why, I wondered? It's a simple question"

    Talk about sending off alarm bells...These folks will be going underground, if they haven't already. I know of at least one person that has had repo's made from them in the past. Once they leave the original purchaser's possession all bets are off if they will be represented as reproductions. The same thing has been happening for years on repaired bottles. Once repaired and held for awhile when they are re-sold the repair sometimes is not mentioned by the seller.

    I have bought a couple of bottles over the years that were repaired and after confronting the sellers was told " I had no idea it was repaired - the person I bought it from didn't mention it was repaired"

    This is happening in all the collecting fields and not just bottle collecting. I have no idea how to stop this sort of thing. Some people are weak and will do anything to make a profit

  9. I strongly object to "to their credit", twice mentioned in the copy. NOTHING about these companies should receive"credit".This/these individual(s) are clearly making reproduction bottles purely for-profit with total disregard to the effect such repos might have on the value/desirability of REAL specimens. To disavow any responsibility for how a future seller of their UNMARKED repos might represent them is total amorality, unfortunately all-too common today as just another of ones "rights".

  10. Just received my click and ship notice from Historic Clothiers, the Old Sachems is on its way....Andy

  11. The Old Sachems arrived today and I am going to have my buddy take the pics as soon as I can, and send them to the site..........Andy

  12. I would like to see the FOHBC take this company to court and force them the mark the bases of the bottles !

  13. I personally as an antique collector/dealer would love to see all repro items put in a big heap and destroyed. I guess there is a place for some reproduction items but they should be unmistakably marked.
    So much deception, smoke and mirrors today - can't we at least have wholesome honest hobbies? Sheesh!

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