Friday, December 27, 2013

Name That Base!
Western or Eastern?

According to the descriptions on ebay both of these bottles are western....Hmm....


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Excellent question to ponder, Rick!

    Pic #1: Looks to be a early to mid 1870's green sixth. In fact, it looks quite familiar, as it used to grace my shelf once upon a time. I'd lean 65/35 in favor of it being western-blown, but not everything about it screams western, as the glass doesn't sparkle, the top is debateable, and the base is somewhat odd. Basically, there's no way to prove it was blown in S.F. What I can say, is that it is one of the most hammer-whittled sixths I've ever handled, and it is 100% green. I just wish I knew for sure about where it was manufactured. Nowadays, I only buy sixths that have the P.G.W. star or floral designs on the base. Everything else is highly suspect.

    Pic #2: Must be a Non-Crown Hotaling. Which is possibly the earliest western-blown embossed fifth. And the base is nearly identical in every way on the early Variant 1 & Variant 2 J.F. Cutter fifths. The Non-Crown and Star-in-Shield Cutter fifths are really early, very "westerny," and come in very primitive colors, but also quite an array of colors, from: black chocolate, to dark puce, to olive, greens, ambers, and yellows.

    As for my personal collecting thoughts and definition of "Western" isn't truly Western unless it was blown in one of the S.F. area glasshouses. It's half-western if it says "San Francisco," but was blown in the East (ex. W.H. Burt pontiled soda), and if it was distrubuted out west, then it ain't western, but does have a strong connection to western history (Gold Rush bottles). There is a good reason why I got rid of all of my pontiled sodas, questionable unembossed sixths, German connection fifths, and soon the rest of my Dr. J. Hostetter's Bitters. Now I'm not saying that some of these bottles weren't specifically made for the western market (ex. Lynde & Putnam soda), nor does it mean that they aren't found exclusively in the west (Large Rosenbaum's). But at the end of the day, we all have to draw the line somewhere, and for me, western-blown is all I care to own.

  3. I suspect pic #1 is just missing an iron pontil to reveal its age. Pic #2 is a non crown Hotaling
    Lance, I have a lot of respect for a man that knows where to draw his line and stands behind it.
    To many wishy washy folks that can't make up their mind on anything anymore.

  4. Thank you, Rick!

    Likewise to you. It takes a brave soul and dedicated passion for glass to consistently manage this here WesternBitters site. Personally, I try to draw lines that I actually might have a chance of sticking to; of course this is always easier said than done. Don’t be surprised if I start a run of Red-Amber German fifths, Eastern Historical Flasks, or Figural Bitters. And as far as my opinions go, I try to support what I believe, knowing all the while that I may easily be proven wrong, just as much as I get things right. Either way, I always love talking bottles and continuing on the bumpy road to never stop learning!

    As I started thinking some more about the infamous word "WESTERN," I realized it can be a pretty general and somewhat ambiguous term, which may be the main reason for so many differences of opinion. Perhaps there would be more agreement across our hobby if we framed things a bit more precisely:

    Now, the word “Western” can take the form of a noun or adjective, but for the purpose of our discussion, we will use the most relevant details from

    West-ern adjective
    : located in or toward the west
    : of or relating to the countries of North America and Western Europe
    : of or relating to the American West

    I propose the following sub-categories to better define the term “Western,” as it relates to the bottles many of us admire and collect:

    Western-Blown: If it was manufactured by one of the early bay area glasshouses (ie. Baker & Cutting, Pacific Glass Works, San Francisco Glass Works, S.F.P.G.W, O.G.W., etc.), then it must be “Western.” The most obvious of these would be a San Francisco Glass Works jar, Pacific Glass Works star-base embossed Sixth, or a curved “R” Bonanza Bourbon/J. Renz/Sole Agent/S.F. slug-plate Fifth

    Western-Embossed: Whether blown in the West, in the East, or even in Germany…if it says “San Francisco,” “S.F.,” or any other old town or city west of say the Rocky Mountains it must be “Western.” Examples include Barry & Patten / San Francisco, Boley & Co./Sac City, B.F. Fish’s Hair Restorative/San Francisco, and a red-whittled Jesse Moore/San Francisco Fifth

    Western-Advertised: It doesn’t matter where it was blown, only if it was marketed in any form, anywhere west of the Rockies. It’s icing on the cake if you can find an ad from an old newspaper, city directory, saloon sign, etc. it must be “Western.” Ex. Dr. J. Hostetter’s Stomach Bitters (eastern blown), Dr. Renz’s Herb Bitter (western blown), Dr. Wonser’s Indian Root Bitters (western blown).

    Western-Distributed: Again, it don’t matter where it was blown….If it was distributed in the west (especially a dedicated Sole Agent/Proprietor), or more than several examples have been dug in different locations in the West, then it must be “Western.” Examples: Voldner’s Aromatic Schnapps, Wakelee’s Cameline (many variants), Bromoseltzer’s, Bryant’s Stomach Bitters (Cone), and Miller’s Extra Old Bourbon/E. Martin & Co. Fifths & Flasks, J.A. Gilka’s, etc. This list would include just about anything and everything, but would exclude bottles that are only found back East, or in other parts of world.

    ****DISCLAIMER**** Please keep in mind, that some bottles may fit into several, or even all four categories. For example, a WM. H. Spears & Co./Old Pioneer Whiskey/embossed (BEAR)/Fenkhausen & Braunschweiger/Sole Agents/S.F., would seem to meet all of the above criteria and be as “Western” as all get-out.

    P.S. I concocted the aforementioned definitions and criteria during a 15 minute period writing-storm, so feel entirely free to throw darts at it, poke holes in it, add to it, or ignore it altogether. It’s just some friendly food for thought!

  5. The base characteristics on western blown bottles are always open to speculation. I have been studying the stars and the non star bases lately and would like some more input from Lance, Andrew, and others who have been to decide what is or is noy blown in the west. MAX BELL cal49er

  6. I happen to agree with the above mentioned four sub-categories for "Western" bottles, perhaps it should become the standard for judging these fascinating examples of glass........Andy

  7. Ahh the perennial debate as to eastern or western...The great part of collecting anything is that an individual collector can collect what they like. The history is what makes the glass attractive to me and obviously being blown in the west is a bonus. Perhaps "western blown" would be a good term? When I look at a Frisch which is most likely eastern blown,or a WB Shasta soda, the actual location of manufacture is secondary to the incredible western history of the piece. The logistics of actually placing the custom order ( no internet)...the shipping it thousands of miles to be filled by a western company, and then getting the product to it's respective merchant is a monumental undertaking. The pontiled sodas, while not western blown are amazing pieces of Gold Rush history..CC & B, B&G, MR & D are rich in history. Medicines like the CC&B Sarsaparilla, Kelly from Marysville, Dr. Vincent's as well as the Bryant's Cone are western bottles, although not western blown. I love the true western blown glass, but appreciate the rich history of all western bottles. I suppose the debate will continue forever. I would bet a mint Frisch would set a record for any bitters bottle if it ever became available today, and I would also bet money that a western collector would be in the hunt. Dale M.