Monday, December 16, 2013

W.S. Wright- A True Piece of History.

Recently I was able to reacquire a bottle which I dug many years ago...lost in the pick, purchased it later, traded it, and now am grateful to have back on the shelf. It is a dark aqua W.S.Wright blob soda with thousands of champagne bubbles, and in perfect condition. To me these sodas are among the most historically significant pieces of western glass.
William S. Wright came to California in the 1850s and initially settled in the Petaluma, California area. He ran

a store there until moving to the Comstock about 1860. Wright started in the soda water business in 1861 at Mill and B street in Virginia City. In the Summer of 1863, Wright placed an order for 24,000 soda bottles from the fledgling Pacific Glass Works. This large order actually made headlines in the San Francisco and Sacramento newspapers. Obviously he had grand ideas of the demand for his bottled soda in the booming town. For such a large order of "custom" bottles, relatively few have survived. It is thought that a significant percentage of these bottles were poorly manufactured with flashes, numerous pot stones, and other impurities. In 1989 literally thousands of these "rejects" were dug in a large well or outhouse near the W.S. Wright factory. Only a handful were found intact, and most of these were loaded with chunks of charcoal, and stones. I have seen and held the killer dark green example with hundreds of stones throughout, and amazingly, none radiate. What a bottle!
The W.S. Wright has "Pacific Glass Works" proudly embossed on the base, and although no State is embossed, these are considered to be the earliest western blown soda bottle. They are also territorial which makes these bottles the earliest territorial soda bottles in the U.S.
Very few of the Wright sodas have been found outside the Virginia City area, which makes sense as there was most likely this one order. There are in my opinion about 30 undamaged examples in collections. All in all this is one important western bottle! Dale M.


  1. A very important bottle historically speaking and certainly one of the earliest blown by PGW, however an earlier glassworks claimed the making of soda water bottles three years earlier. Unfortunately having indisputable proof in the form of embossing is yet to be uncovered. I have examined unearthed examples excavated from locations near the earlier glassworks and believe them to be manufactured by an earlier SFGW factory.

  2. The WS Wright is a really cool bottle and on top of that, yours is a primo example. It's always nice to be able to reacquire something that you sold off in the past, especially if it's one you dug yourself. I'm still hoping to dig one of the Wright's someday, but as you stated, they seem to be only in VC which is far from my digging territory. I guess for now, I'll have to settle for the base-only embossed Pacific Glass Works sodas !

  3. Thanks Tom,
    This example was found about three blocks from the Wright factory...along with an applied top Baldwin's Liniment from Marysville, an beautiful King of Pain, and a puce Lyon's Powder. The "crier" was a crude and light Teakettle bourbon which was in pieces.It was a thick trash layer rather than a privy. Seems that VC has trash everywhere with pockets of intact bottles. A few blocks away from this site I found a pure yellow ( no green) Cassin's Grape Brandy Bitters which looked mint in the side of the layer, but fell in to my hands in 3 pieces! My heart almost could not take it, and if smart phones existed at that time, I would have had an incredible "layer shot" of the Cassin's. My digging partner glued it back together, and I do not know where it is today. Dale M.

  4. I remember seeing hundreds of broken W.S. Wrights blob sodas in the top of the remains of a hole in this guys side yard in VC. years ago, it was packed, but, dug. I had a nice one years ago and a Morriell Blob soda too, both gone now. Kool Bottle, Great Top. rick