Friday, July 5, 2013

Reno 2013

Well it has been a week since the Reno show, and I thought I would provide an overview of this fantastic event. Marty hall and crew did an outstanding job again this year and should be commended for the hard work which results in a show that does not disappoint.
 The action actually began on Thursday evening with several gatherings of collectors in several different locations...the bottles which came out were amazing! I saw a super Virginia N. fifth, some top western medicines in built in display cases which made me drool. I was able to acquire a crude "old amber" Cundurango, and almost pulled the trigger on some gorgeous Miller's flasks. Sitting around talking digging and glass is always enjoyable, and the setting of a restored victorian home just added to the fun.
  Friday morning saw dealers setting up from all over the west, though some "fixtures" of the western collector's community were not present this year. As I wandered around looking at the glass being placed on tables, I was excited to see some standouts...A Dr. Hauseman's German Bitters, a square Dr. Henley's IXL in a light golden amber, some great whiskey's and flasks too! A yellow green Blake's, Bear Grass in amber, several Cutter variants,two "Horse's" a square aqua Wonser's, a KILLER whittled GREEN Renz's Bitters, and lots of great western medicines. Many sold for very reasonable prices to happy collectors.
 I was able to finalize a group purchase of some early IXL's I did not have and a mint Alex Vonhumboldt's which will compliment my green example. I saw a spectacular "horizontal" Wormser flask go to a new home, and American Bottle Auction's display showcased several of the bottles which were currently at auction. The green "non crown" Hotaling made my heart pound...what a bottle!
 I was able to return home with some key pieces for my bitters collection, and four boxes of nice glass for sale on my website,  and I am excited to offer these bottles over the next few months.
 Overall it was a great show, though it seemed a bit less attended than in the past. The Grand Sierra is a nice venue for a bottle show, although the lighting was not perfect to check the color of glass...everything appeared greener than it actually was...a potential costly situation for some.
 I look forward to next year, and hangin' with bottle homies! DM


  1. Dale,
    Thanks for the show report! I missed the show this year. I would have really enjoyed seeing the Renz and Alex Von Humboldt's for sure. It certainly sounds like the show provided some terrific western glass for sale.

  2. The Reno show was great as always, and I agree with Dale that the attendance was down from last year. For those old time collectors who know Jim Mayfield and may have seen him at the Reno show, I have some sad news to report. As some of you know, Jim's wife has suffered from kidney problems for several years, and has had to have dialysis about 3 times a week for a long time now. She still attended most of the bottle shows with Jim, and would have dialysis "on the road". She was with him at this most recent Reno show, but had to remain in their room due to the illness. She passed away 2 days after they returned home from the show. Please think of Jim during these tough times, and may she rest in peace!

  3. I dont think half the bottles mentioned in the above post were on people's tables for the "paying" public to see. Problem w bottle shows now, is that too many good bottles remain in boxes under tables to be shown only to those collectors who have a reputation for buying everything good that comes up for sale.
    As a hobby, how are we supposed to expect new and mid-range collectors to advance, if they dont even get a shot/chance at seeing the better bottles offered for sale?? Maybe only through auction venues ..... but the shows will suffer as whole, after reading posts that mention all of the good bottles seen or sold at the show. This can surely inspire a "why bother going to a show" feeling for some folks...

  4. Sadly I have to agree. The people with known
    deep pockets usually have the quality items held
    back in a box for them. Often the choice items
    never even make it to the show. They are wheeled and dealed away at someones house where the chosen few gather the night before the show. I suppect this was the case at Reno. I never saw any of this great material offered for sale at the show. Then suddenly they appeare for sale on the internet. Such is life.

  5. It has been like that for many should always ask dealers where is the "good" stuff. Or, "do you have any other good glass in a box that might be available"? I have gotten most of my better pieces this way. By the way, the majority of the bottles I mentioned, were available on tables, or behind the tables. Several nice western bitters and whiskey's sold to very happy collectors and I saw the glass after the fact. I for one, start networking prior to any show, by contacting collectors with a reputation for having quality glass, and deals are already in the works prior to the show.
    The psychology of bottle sales at shows in interesting...I have set great glass out on the table, and after about an hour, the fact that the bottle is still on the table somehow "taints" it as apparently since nobody has snatched it up, it must not be worthy. If a better piece gets overexposed in this manner, you cannot give it away.There were a ton of great bottles on the tables at Reno in almost all categories. This hobby is all about relationships, so perhaps develop some, and you too can be part of the additional fun, wheeling and dealing, as well as being the first to get a shot at something for your collection. I look at it as developing multiple "buckets" of sources for glass...friends, acquaintances, other dealers, strangers walking around offering a bottle ( such as the Renz), and the internet. I like them all! Of course digging your own is another great source...
    Quite frankly the "people with deep pockets" class envy comment is disappointing. What good would it be if a high end piece WAS on the table if you have no chance of affording it? I am not rich by any means, but buy what I can afford, and value the relationships with friends who give me right of first refusal. They know I do not play games, and pay them fair prices on the spot. That helps when they come up with another great find. Treating your good customers right is just good business, and sure helps your collection. DM

  6. One last offering the bottles on the internet, for the entire world to see, these great bottles are made available for EVERYONE to purchase, including the many who did not even attend the show. Seems extremely fair to me.

  7. It appears Mr. Malasko totally missed the point given by the two other people.
    They are saying: why bother with the trouble and expense of traveling to a bottle show!!
    The quality rare items will not be seen anyway by the paying little guy collector and possible new collectors.
    Just set home in the comfort of your arm chair, serf the net, and buy your bottles there.
    This is why so many of our bottle shows and clubs are not doing as well as they could.
    It would be very nice if all of us could see the rare bottles up close in personal before they end
    on the internet. Just my 2 cents worth.

  8. Yes I agree, This happens in every field of high dollar collectibles, whether its bottles, coins, advertisement, gambling, or even cowboy items. The big boys pay the big bucks for the best of the best in that field and set the prices so high the little guy never has a chance. Once the supply of great bottles dries up from the market, any new great bottle to market goes for outrageous prices. Once it gets to that point any new collectors big or small won't bother paying top dollar for the great stuff because there is no more profit margin for the next generation of collectors. So those big time collectors/dealers only trade bottles and money with each other, there is no one above them who is going to pay those high prices. Then the hobby goes down in the number of buyers,..... until (sad to say) one of those big guys passes on or a few do in a short time. Their collections it the market once again and flood it. Prices drop like a sack of potatoes. Only then will that field of colleting see new buyers/collectors again, with the little guy out buying like crazy. Do you guys get it now!

  9. At reno I added a western labled tonic that I had never seen before for 2 bucks got a Hostetters that I didn't have for 20.bucks and a rare base embossed S.F. whiskey for 50.00 .These all were purchased on Saturday. Part of the collecting problem is every one wants the top bottles and can't be happy with collecting the "lessor" ones. There are lots of groups of bottles that can be made into impressive collections without spending a ton of money . I almost always find good bottles on the tables for a decent price . Right now I'm working on a collection of Wakelee's Camelline.Can't find a good clean machine made one with the net contents4 FLD.OZs

  10. I can relate to some of the frustration expressed by you "Anonymous" dudes, but I will also strongly disagree with the comments regarding shows. I consider myself one of the "little guys", always scrounging around hoping to get lucky and add a decent bottle to my collection. I regularly see great bottles changing hands at shows that I'd love to own, sometimes before the show opens or from behind the tables, but with persistence and diligence I always seem to get lucky and make a score or two.

    What's my secret? No secret at all, you just have to make the effort to attend the shows. I'd say 75% of the purchased bottles in my collection came from attending shows. They would not be gracing my shelves had I not attended shows. Sometimes it's pure luck, being at the right table at the right time when that prize is placed on the table. This will not happen if you don't attend shows. In some instances I might approach a dealer's table and find they kept something back for me to see before placing it out for sale. This will not happen if you don't attend shows.

    I'll use the last Reno Show as a perfect example. My purchases from the show for my personal collection included an old amber Cunderango, a beautiful cornflower blue Pioneer Soda Works blob soda, a smoky topaz Greeley's barrel & a screaming golden yellow four log Drakes. The latter three were under $400 each! I'll explain how each came into my possession: First of all, I had to attend the show to have a shot at all of these; they would not have come my way had I stayed home and surfed the Web. (1) The Cunderango was a big want of mine and I've been putting the word out for a couple years now. A fellow collector had just acquired one, I approached his table to say hi, he produced the bottle from a box, remembering I had been seeking one. I bought it, deal was done. It was no doubt eventually going out on the table had I not attended the show. (2) In chatting with another dealer half way through the show on the first day, I noticed he was still setting up, so I asked if he brought anything new and exciting that he hadn't put out yet. He mentioned the blue Pioneer Soda Works blob, but had not unpacked it yet. Shortly thereafter I walked back to his table and there it was, sitting there for anyone's taking, a color my seasoned blob soda collecting buddy had never seen before. This would never have found it's way to me had I not attended the show. (3 & 4) Both the Greeley's and the Drakes sat on a sales table all day Friday. Saturday morning the dealer started marking items down and commented he was there to move them, so he would take even lower offers. I was thrilled to purchase both at great prices that you would never see on eBay. Again, it never would have happened had I stayed home and grumbled about unfairness at shows.

    There was one last experience at the Reno show that I want to mention. I was told by a collector/dealer that he had just acquired a killer Western bottle on the way to the show that is at the top of my list. He offered to me the opportunity to purchase it, then invited me to his room to view it. I wanted it badly, but alas, it was out of my price range. So why mention this? Because the collector was kind enough to exclusively offer me a bottle he knew I really wanted. Sure, this was one of those "come to my room" deals that no one else was invited to be involved with, but I can say with near certainty that this opportunity would probably never have come to me had I not attended that show. How can I be so sure? When he arrived home with the bottle he realized it fit perfectly in his own collection and decided to keep it!

    So, the choice is yours. Mine is to continue attending shows...and believe me, it's not only about the bottles!

  11. Yes, shows are very important, they are more hands on and personal than ebay. The hobby should be for all to enjoy,(big guy or little guy) It shouldn't be for only the select few who pick and choose who they want to sell bottles to.(The Chosen Ones). There is only a hand full of old timers who really help the younger generation of collectors get started. I like seeing the innocence of young collectors new to the hobby. The joy of just collecting bottles and finding something new for their collection, and not caring what kind of bottle it is, just that it was a pretty bottle and they liked it. That's what this hobby is for me. The joy of collecting bottles because I love bottles and the history that goes with them, not because I can get thousands of dollars for them. We sometimes loose site of what this hobby is truly about and that is sad.

  12. Wow...remind me never to post another "show update"...
    Nice to see posters hiding behind "anonymous" names again.
    Happy collecting...sorry you are "sad". Dale Mlasko

  13. Keep posting, Dale! The majority of us love to see photos and hear the news. Some people just want to sit on the sidelines and complain about everything. Looks like a case of jealousy to me. And it doesn't surprise me that those who won't take ownership with their comments are the same people who aren't taking ownership of any good glass offered at shows!

    Every show is a new adventure and an opportunity to possibly pick up something new. Who ever said it's always a guarantee? We should all feel blessed to attend shows, afford computers, and be free to express our viewpoints (yes, even for the anonymous dissenters). Such is the true meaning of being rich, not how much our bank accounts say or what bottles temporarily grace our shelves.

  14. Although some of you are pushed out of shape with the direction of this post this is exactly why I continue to keep the Western bitters News alive. It is important that everyone can express their feelings on the posts and comments that they spark. As long as the discussions on this blog don't get profane I will continue to let all of you say what you feel on the state of our hobby. Unlike other sites I don't monitor comments before they are published - I'm a firm believer in the constitution and the first amendment. Don't stop posting reports or sharing your finds because someone disagrees with your point of view.

    I, for one, don't worry about backdoor or car trunk deals. As someone else mentioned they happen in all hobbies and that doesn’t bother me a bit. Aggressive collectors with deep pockets will always catch flak from the collectors that can’t afford to compete with them in the upper end of the hobby. It’s just a fact of collecting. These upper end collectors are willing to dig deep to add to their collections and so are usually offered the high end bottles before they are offered to other collectors.
    Just take a look back at some of the high end collectors that are new (within the last ten years) to the hobby. They stepped up right from the start paying what other collectors thought were outrageously high prices for bottles that they wanted to put in their collections. Bingo! They were instantly in that circle of collectors that were getting offered bottles before the rest of the collecting public. Its simple economics.

    I have never been a competitive collector and don’t need to have a more comprehensive or rarer collection of bottles than the next guy. My competition has always been myself. To become a better father, grandfather and to enjoy what short time we have on this earth. Hobbies are hobbies to me and are to be enjoyed - not stressful, competitive or so expensive that I have to sell the farm to buy a bottle.

    Come on up to Downieville in September and you can see what the bottle collecting hobby is to our circle of western bottle collectors. We eat, drink, tell bottle stories and even buy and sell bottles over the weekend. Might not be what the high end collectors call bottle collecting but its what us western folks call a hobby

    - Rick Simi -

  15. Well put Rick, I agree, as some one who was born into this hobby and has seen all sides of bottle collecting good and bad. I had kept my head down and did nothing but dig and collect bottles for almost 30 years before anyone knew who I was. Until I got involved with the club again and became show chairman. Only about 5 of the old timers who knew who I was as a young punk, help me build my collection to what it is today.(nothing big) Knowing that I couldn't afford a certain high dollar bottle that I would love to have in my collection, they would let me pay for it over a period of time. For that, I am very grateful, not only for those guys(they know who they are) but that I get to own a great bottle..... I'll make one more statement. When it all comes down to it...Its just stuff we hang onto for the next guy. Mike McKillop

  16. The bottle hobby is only going to be as good as your attitude towards it is. I know all kinds of bottle people, and for the most part they are far and away helpful nice giving people, and Downieville is one of the friendliest shows on the west coast. so go to a show and support our hobby...Andy volkerts

  17. LMAO, Ohhhh the Drama on "As the Bottle Turns". Remember Rule 62 Amigo's.....Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously. Its All Good.