Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Western Curved "R's" ?

BOGARDUS GLASS TARGET BALL Western Curved "R's" from S.F. & Pacific Glassworks

RARE possibly Unique & PERFECT MINT! Backwards 2 too!

Note the very curvy legged Western Style "R" in BOGARDUS here!
The one for sale in this auction is embossed "BOGARDUS' GLASS BALL - PAT'D APRL' 10 1877" (in the center band), and it also has a backwards number "2" in a diamond above the center band and the number "2" (not backwards this time) is embossed on the base.  The backwards "2" and the number "2" on the bottom makes this a very scarce to rare (and very cool) variant, but with the curved "R's" too, it may quite possibly be unique!
Quoting Mike McKillop, who writes on the Peachridge Glass website as follows "I believe that the 1870′s was the golden age of western glass making, and nothing shows that better than western curved R bottles. Curved R bottles were only made at the S.F. & Pacific Glass Works, when C. Newman owned the company during the 1870′s.  No other glass company used that style of R in their molds."  (There is some speculation amongst the Western glass collectors that we've talked to that this style of R, with the curved front leg, is the work of one particular gifted mold maker.  Glass with the embossed curved R's of his may have been his signature, effectively saying, "I made this!")   Warren Friedrich, author of the fantastic book "Early Glassworks of California" writes on that same site, "Glass target Balls were manufactured by at least two of the West Coast glass works, San Francisco Glass Works and the California Glass Works."  
With those two pieces of information, the noted reliability and expertise of the Peachridge Glass website, and additional information from our copy of Friedrich's book (see photos & captions below), we feel confident that this Bogardus glass ball was very likely produced at the San Francisco & Pacific Glass works.  The Bogardus design was closely followed, with the exception of the curved R's, the signature mark of that mold maker, we believe!
Target Ball Western "R's"?
Cutter Western "R" !
Sure seems like there are a lot of Western "R's" popping up lately!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Alex Von Humbolt & Roger Terry

While visiting the Peachridge Glass site I stumbled across a link to an old post that my amigo Roger Terry wrote for this here Western Bitters News back in 2010. It was so well written and interesting that I though I would bring it back for those that missed it when it was published:


A new record price for a flask!     What a flask it is..  the famous "Firecracker Flask".   A flask that honors  two of the great men in U.S. history,   framers of the Constitution,  former presidents of these United States.   They both died on July 4, 1826,  within hours of each other.  Exactly 50 years from the signing of the Declaration!

Can it possibly get more "historical" than that?   I don't think so.

Pikes Peak flasks,  Civil War flasks,  Success to the Railroad,  Tippecanoe Cabin,  all of the pictorial flasks,  whew!!    They are beautiful,  and historical!    They are out of my league... and out of my limited realm of knowledge..  and for the most part out of my pocket book capacity.

We western digger/collectors just have bottles.   Good old bottles!    Crazy names,  funny shapes,  beautiful colors.   I guess we have a few that have a historical theme...  the beautiful Chalmer's Catawba Wine Bitters... Sutter' Mill,  or the Old Pioneer Whiskey...the California Bear   (can you hear the scoffs and hoots raining down from east of the Mississippi)  ha, ha!

Ok,  we have what we have... but we do have a name on a bottle that is tied to Mr. Jefferson.  His name is tied to Lewis & Clark,  tied to John C. Fremont,  to Charles Darwin,  tied to half the western U.S.


If you live in N. California, or N. Nevada  how often do you say that name,  as compared to John Adams, or maybe even T. Jefferson.

"Alexander von Humboldt was the reigning scientific mind of the early nineteenth century, a unique combination of naturalist and adventurer.  With his companion, Aime Bonpland,  Humboldt cut a six thousand mile swath across the New World, through what is now Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, and Cuba.  Risking his life in treacherous terrain, he conducted the first extensive scientific explorations of the Andes and the Amazon, literally redrawing the map of the Americas and dramatically expanding our knowledge of the natural world.  He brought back to Europe more than 60,000 plant specimens and a multitude of exotic New World animals, set an altitude record while climbing the volcano Chimborazo, made revolutionary discoveries regarding volcanoes and the Earth's magnetic field,  and introduced millions of Americans and Europeans to the astonishing cultures of the Aztecs and the Incas. 
At the completion of his epic journey, Humboldt became one of the most celebrated men in the world,  feted by Thomas Jefferson in Washington and  invited to Napoleon's coronation in Paris.  His ideas revolutionized scientific research,  laid the ground work for entire new fields of study, such as climatology, oceanography, and several branch's of geography.  His adventures profoundly influenced followers and students such as Charles Darwin.  Today,  more places and geographical features are named after Humboldt than any other historical figure,  and scientists continue to build on the foundations he established."  -  Gerard Helferich
Alex von Humboldt,  incredible traveler, author,  and father figure of science,  was perhaps the most admired man of the 19th century.  Fourteen towns in the United States and one in Canada are named for him.  Mountains in Antarctica, North and South America, Australia, New Zealand.  An ocean current off of Peru,  the largest glacier in Greenland.  A bay, a county, a university, a redwood forest in California.   Streams, parks, city streets,  even a "sea" on the moon carry his name. 

The map of Northern Nevada is covered with Humboldts name;  the county, a town, a canyon, a mountain range,  a huge national forest.  Most of the California and Nevada naming was due to the little "Pathfinder".  John C. Fremont.   Fremont was an ardent Humboldt admirer,  naming the river that marked the westward expansion and later the gold rush trail.  

Fremont's diary- Nov. 8th, 1845.  " Crane's Branch led into a larger stream that was one of the two forks forming a river to which I gave the name of Humboldt.  I am given by Himself the honor of being the first to place his great name on the map of the continent.  Both the river and mountain to which I gave his name are conspicuous;  the river stretching across the Basin to the foot of the Sierra Nevada."

Ok, Ok... it looks like I know way too much about Humboldt.   I put together a display for the Reno Show a few years ago...  this is just some of that material.   I always loved the photos of the Alex von Humboldts Stomach Bitters bottle in Wilson's Western Bitters.    The two bottles,  one plain-jane,  the other whittled, crooked,  crude.. the epitome of what we want in a western bitters.  If there was a picture that I went back to over and over and helped to form my fascination with Western Bitters,  that's it.   I thought I knew I little about the bottles when I put together that display.   Warren F.'s research will change much of the previous written information about the manufacturers,  even the date of distribution.  I thought for sure the beginning had to be 1869,  the hundred year centenary of  Humboldts birth.   Nope!  
Wilson had one thing right about Alex von Humboldt;  he "isolated the deadly native poison 'curare'."   That he did,  but it's kinda like condensing Abe Lincoln's accomplishments down to "being tall".

So,  if your not buying the "Historical of the West" thing...  don't confuse our bottle with the lame looking Eastern aqua bitters.   Our   ALEX VON HUMBOLDTS / STOMACH BITTERS  was blown in San Francisco.
Well done Roger - Well done!
(Thanks to Dale Mlasko & Ferdinand Meyer for the pictures)


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Downieville Bottle Show Update

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since the inception of the Downieville Antique Bottle Show.  In 1993, the first show was held at the Downieville Community Hall.  It was a great success, and set the tone for future shows.  In the bottle collecting world, several Downieville shows were truly memorable.  The 1997 Western Whiskey Extravaganza was amazing.  Never before had such a collection of western bottles been featured in one display exhibit.  Valued over one million dollars, it was truly impressive!  Another great show was the 1998 show with a display featuring bottles with pictures or slug plates; many rare examples of early glass.
Doug Hansen at his sales table
Once again, Downieville will host another top-notch show on Saturday, September 14.  Over 45 dealers from many western states, including, California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington will be selling at the show.  Items for sale will include antique bottles, insulators, gold rush items, advertising, saloon, mining and various western-related artifacts and go-withs.  There’s something for almost every kind of collector and available for prices anyone can afford.
Bottle Talk ? at the Friday night wine tasting and BBQ
The show is held at the Downieville School Gym and “Early Lookers” will be admitted at 8am for $10.  A free raffle ticket is included.  The show is FREE from 10am to 3pm.  Each year the show features a large composite display of “Western bottles”.  This years’ display highlights bottles, back bar bottles, tokens, and collectibles from "THE WESTERN SALOON”.  The saloon was usually the first commercial operation in mining camps and was always the main gathering place.  It played an important role in the community as well as being a social and psychological necessity.  Warren Friedrich from Nevada City is organizing the display once again this year.
Lou always has great bottles for sale
Randy Taylor from Chico
Supper time in front of the Mine Shaft
Don’t miss out on attending the Downieville Bottle Show!  Buy some raffle tickets for a chance at some great prizes!  Learn some interesting history on antique bottles from some very knowledgeable sellers.  Mark your calendar for Saturday, September 14 for the Downieville Antique Bottles and Collectibles Show and Sale.
This year's show is almost sold out - If you need a sales table get in touch with me ASAP and I will make room for you...Thanks - rs
John Ronald and his amazing selection of bottles


Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Beautiful western blown King of Pain

Colorful Henry Campe Tray

The old honest way to make a living

Summer time ..... Yum

Detecting a hillside

Some recent finds

Bitters book author, colored pontiled medicine & western whiskey collector Bill Ham

Get the family outdoors!

Got Flasks?

Base of a Pacific Coast Glass Works demijohn

Rick & Tammy Downieville 2012

A recent Aquisition

Saturday, August 10, 2013


The first advertisement that I can find for the Newell's product is in a 1860 Sacramento Daily Union newspaper. The advertisement is attributed to the firm of R.H. McDonald, one of the earliest of the Sacramento wholesale druggists.

In 1849, a year after gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill; Richard McDonald opened a drug store at 143 J Street in Sacramento California. McDonald’s first drug store was operated from a wood and tent structure and sometime in 1852 he took as a partner a Mr. Levy. Sometime in 1853 the partners started a traveling drug store to supply remote mining camps with medicinal supplies. McDonald and Levy’s idea of taking a wagon load of medicine and drugs to the miners was not revolutionary but their timing was perfect, few if any early mining camps at that time had a drug store. The traveling drug store was a huge success and by 1853 The Miners Drug Store of Sacramento was firmly established. Levy left the partnership around 1854.


Wow! sorry about getting side tracked on old R.H. McDonald but the attraction of spewing forth some of the knowledge I have left on California's Gold Rush was irresistible. (check out the privy to the right of the store right on J Street)
Never the less, sometime in 1862 the firm of Redington  & Co. of San Francisco acquired the Newell's product.

With the acquisition of the Newell's Pulmonary Syrup brand Redington & Co. had an embossed bottle manufactured. The time frame and location of where the bottle was blown is, to me a mystery. But sometime between 1862 and 1878 Redington had this bottle manufactured. 1878 was the last year I could find any mention of the Newell's Pulmonary Syrup product.

Advertisement for Newell's by the firm of Redington, Hostetter and Co.
(yes THE Hostetter of bitters and jamaica ginger fame)
The Newell's Pulmonary Syrup bottle is interesting for several reasons in my opinion. First off, its shape doesn't really resemble any other western bottle that I can think of. Second, it has three different types of embossing on the three embossed panels. The front indented panel with "PULMONARY SYRUP' embossed has a font style like some of the early western medicines with a flattened look to the letters.
Indented front panel embossing
The side panel embossed "NEWELL's
has a serif style font kinda', sorta' like an early Hostetter's
And the other side panel
embossed REDINGTON & Co. is a font style I am not familiar with. Notice on either end of the embossing is what looks like portions of a slug plate. Could there be another Newell's without the Redington & Co. out there?
Any dyed in the wool western collector would swear on a stack of burning sagebrush this stained Newell's wasn't a western blown bottle.
Wouldn't they?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Great digging story over at Bruce Silva's Western Whiskey Tool Top Gazette
Bruce has penned an interesting and well written account of a weeks worth of digging
Click on over and check it out

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Western Bitters Rarity Ranking

In the past, there has been spirited debate on the most desirable western bitters. Obviously DEMAND is what creates desirability, and demand is based on several factors ie: color, crudity, shape, rarity, and condition. I wanted to focus on rarity for the topic of this post. I have collected western glass for decades, and have obviously focused on western bitters in recent years. These beautiful pieces of history come in gorgeous shapes and colors and the rarity of some is often overlooked as the most desired examples are not always the most rare. Based on my observations and discussions with other western bitters collectors, and countless hours of study, I thought it would be interesting to discuss the most rare western bitters in the collecting fraternity. Here are the results, and of course I welcome debate and discussion on those that I have either missed, or miscalculated as to rarity.
 In compiling this ranking, I did not take into account extremely rare colors of more available bitters, or applied top versions vs tooled, etc. This is purely based on the numbers known in fine condition and repaired, or partial examples known of these rarities. I am sure that I missed one or two, but this is the most accurate accounting I can provide. Here is the ten rarest western bitters...

  1) Oregon Chittum Bitters-Dr. G.W. Brown- Applied top square. One known example, and no damaged examples known.
  2)Dr. Hauseman's German Bitters- Pint applied top flask. One known example, and two partial examples.
  3) G.A. Simon's Medicated, Aromatic Bitters- Indended panel square. One mint, and three or four damaged examples known.
  4)California Bitters, J.G. Frisch. Amber modified pyramid shape-One mint and two or three examples known.
  5)Bryant's Stomach Bitters-cone style, one or two truly mint and four damaged / repaired examples known.
  6) Orizaba Bitters, J. Marstany- Folded over lip squatty square- two mint, and three damaged examples known.
  7) Baker's High Life- Tooled top square, two or three examples known.
  8) Old Man's Stomach Bitters-Applied top square. Three mint, and one damaged example known.
  9) Oregon Peach Bitters- Clear or aqua cylinder, tooled top. Three examples known.
 10) Tied for #10- Dr. Harvey's Blood Bitters, Swiss Alpine Bitters( indented panel amber rectangle), Dr. Hauseman's German Bitters-square applied top. three or four examples known of each.

   There are a few western bitters with six or less known examples...the Dr. Henley's OK Bitters, V.Squarza are two of them. The Cusparia Bitters lady's leg is possibly another.

 Again, I may have missed some, and of course there is almost never LESS examples known than are known...there are probably more.

I am interested in anyone's thoughts.Boy I must be a glutton for punishment! DM