Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Monday, December 29, 2014

Best of 2014

  As we wind down the year, I have been reflecting on 2014 in regards to glass. It has been an amazing year with incredible bottles dug or discovered nationwide. My western bitters collection has seen the addition of some beautiful early pieces and I thought it might be fun for some to post your favorite addition for 2014. I know that many are reluctant to let anyone know anything about their collection of glass, but to me this site is about sharing, so for anyone of like mind, I would love to see your favorite addition for the past year. Maybe you dug it, or found it at a yard sale...maybe you found it on line.
  Here is mine...possibly the only problem free example of the Cassin's Grape Brandy Bitters Variant 1. While the details of the find will not be disclosed, suffice to say it was found in 2014. I was extremely grateful to add this one this past year. Happy 2015! DM

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

New Bottles for Sale Site

Jeff Wichmann over at American Bottle Auctions has opened a new Bottle Sale Site.

You can find Jeff's site HERE
Lots of interesting stuff over at Jeff's site but not sure if the prices are fixed or you can make an offer on what's for sale
Take a look at Jeff's new site - rs -

Thursday, December 18, 2014

San Jose Soda Wors, Cal.

Check out this crude and nasty San Jose Soda Wors, Cal. blob soda that showed up at the Roseville show. These are pretty tough to find as it is, but this example is totally full of bubbles, swirls, and chunks. I have seen these in some nice colors ranging from deep aqua to fairly green. a nice addition to my western blown soda collection. DM

John R. Williams Stockton Druggist

The Williams Balsamic Cream of Roses bottle is a tough one to acquire. It was blown at the San Francisco and Pacific Glass Works circa late 1880's  as shown in the following picture:

It stands 5 1/4 inches tall with a tooled top and as far as I know only comes in this medium blue color. I acquired my example from Chuck Erickson several years ago at the Santa Rosa Bottle Show - Thanks Chuck!
As for the National Horse Liniment - I haven't, as of this date, seen an embossed example

Happy Holidays

from the Western Bitters News

Old worn bottle brushes make festive Christmas decorations
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us here at the WBN
THANKS to all the contributors and visitors to the Western Bitters News
- rs - 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Colors of the Season

I wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas with the colors of the and green. 2014 has been an epic year in glass and here is hoping everyone has a fantastic 2015! Dale and Melissa.

Friday, December 12, 2014

2014 49er Historic Bottle Show a Success!

 The Roseville Show was a great success - Jerry Forbes
Good show that was well attended. I was surprised by the number of people compared with last year. I saw a good number of sales so there should be a lot of happy sellers. I am having some photo issues on my computer so will pull a few directly off my camera.
The first is the table of Jeff Wichmann. You would think he was giving away bottles as it was jammed with potential buyers for a good while. I don’t even know what was so great because I couldn’t breach the crowd. That is Jeff, himself, on the right side, who could not even get to his own table!
The second photo is a major display of unembossed whiskey bottles except for the base markings which included a central ray generally described as a “star”. Max Bell put this together but It had a number of contributors and is a sort of esoteric collecting specialty in the West as a good number – maybe all – of these bottles have been attributed to the San Francisco glass houses.
The third photo is a nicely lighted display of colognes included some “swirled” glass.
Eric M. (McGuire)

This year’s show had some very interesting and exciting bottles appear on tables for sale, including an American Life Bitters (Omaha, Neb.), St.,Nicholas Stomach Bitters (small size), Dr. Henley’ s Eye Opener, Cassin’s Grape Brandy Bitters, Alex Von Humboldt’ s Stomach Bitters, New Almaden Vichy Water (large size), E.G Booze Cabin Whiskey, Kelly’s Old Cabin Bitters, Holtzerman’ s Stomach Bitters (two roof), Bryant’ s Stomach Bitters (both cone & leg variants). A lot of bottles exchanged owners during this show! A very memorable show for me.

Warren Friedrich



Congratulations to show chair Mike McKillop, club president Max Bell and the 49er club.

Thanks to Eric McGuire, Warren Friedrich, Jerry Forbes and Peachridge Glass for the pictures and review of the show - rs -

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

More on the Hamburger Trophen Bitters

From researcher extraordinaire Bruce Silva:

Spotted Dales post on the Hamburger Trophen Bitters along with his notation that Wm. Hoelscher was the distributor. I first got to looking through the books by Wilson, Thomas & Wichman, and noted what they had regurgitated over the years about Wm. Hoelscher. Next, I accessed directories and newspapers from the era in hopes of adding something concrete that Dale could add to the article, and which would support the idea that the bottle he has was indeed distributed by Hoelscher.
That little exercise turned into an eye opener as just about everything written is wrong. Wm. Hoelscher died in the fall of 1880... Here's the string of events that I uncovered;

 I never could document if the embossed case style bottle was, or was not, distributed by the company. There was nothing in the way of sole agency, or other advertising in any of the California or Nevada papers for the brand, and the firm didn't puff it in any of the liquor trade publications. The paper label that Wilson and Wichman pictured appears to date TOC, but the firm never advertised the brand, so until a bill head surfaces, dating will remain a mystery.
Always impressed with Bruce's investigation of  a subject no one else seems to want to research. The Hamburger Trophen Bitters also comes in a small "sample size" embossed bottle. I have dug several examples in Sierra City over the years. Thanks Bruce for taking the time to run down the info on Hoelscher. - rs -

The first go round on this post the newspaper clips were missing - I corrected this  - rs -

Sunday, December 7, 2014

San Francisco Milks

Just in from Ken Morrill

Thanks Ken for some very interesting info on a rarely seen or discussed field of western glass collecting

Hamburger Trophen Bitters

Here is an aqua case gin style bitters which has been a mystery to me for years. This aqua tooled top is very elaborate in it's embossing with what look like Veloceraptors on both sides of a crest. These are pretty rare and this is the only example I have actually handled. It showed up in Roseville this week.
 According to several western bitters references, this was a bitters put up by Wm. Hoelscher & Co. in San Francisco. Hoelscher was also responsible for a few nice western whiskey bottles. I believe the Hamburger Trophen Bitters was distributed in the 1890s and other than not being milk glass, closely resemble the Rothenberg, and Hartwig case gin bitters from the same time period. I have no clue who John Carl Mitau was, but hopefully someone does. I would also like to know how many of these exist in collections. I know they also come in an amethyst in addition to this aqua.
Kind of an odd ball but a nice and rare western bitters from a well known Western liquor distributor.
( As always, click on the photo to enlarge)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

ROSEVILLE ! December 5th & 6th 2014....See You There!

This years display will feature western star base whiskies


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Western Star?

A Recent Attic Find!

Here's a recent attic find. Nice turn of the century Damiana Bitters from the company famous for Phoenix Whiskey, Nabor, Alfs and Brune.

Check out the label and intact neck foil!

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Old Church Dig

Here are a few photos of a recent dig behind an old church sent in by a anonymous digger:
"Church holes are pretty good in my experience. This 1870s church had two holes behind it with one consisting of local druggists, foods, and liquor bottles. The second one was 1890s and had numerous inks, one liquor and this beautiful crucifix candle stick. It was next to the small demijohn in the hole". 
While not an early 60s pit, it was fun and the candlestick was great to find behind the church.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Speaking of Star Base Blacks

The Sierra Buttes Mine
Located north of the small town of Sierra City - The Sierra Buttes Mine was one of the largest and longest producing mines in Sierra County. Discovered in the late summer or early fall of 1850 this mine employed a major population of the town of Sierra City and was worked for over eighty years.
Early view of the Sierra Buttes Mine
It is said that the mine was discovered by a company of Italian miners, that were prospecting the area, and was first worked with arrastra’s in 1851. A company of English investors took control of the mine in the mid 1850's. It is possible that the original discovery site was near Independence Ravine where a huge quartz outcropping can still be seen today. The mine was worked on nine main levels and the levels were designated as tunnels one through nine; tunnel number one being the highest in elevation and the oldest of the workings, and nine being the lowest and newest.
Arrastra in Buttes Ravine
( note gin pole in upper right of photo)
A small camp started around the mine as early as 1851 and after the heavy snow during the winter of 1852 - 53, that crushed most of the buildings in Sierra City, a settlement started to emerge at the mine site. All manner of business was represented at the site except for the sale of liquor. Company policy stated liquor was prohibited on the mining property. It is interesting to note that, although liquor was prohibited at the Sierra Buttes Mine, scores of liquor bottles ranging in age from the early 1850’s to the late 1880’s have been discovered at this site.
The Sierra Buttes Mine was the perfect example of a early "company town". Most, if not all, of the workers lived on the mining property in boarding houses with the mine bosses residing in small cabins located away from the boarding houses but still on mine property. Company owned stores supplied everything from candy, tobacco, fancy foods to jack knifes and clothes to the miners that worked the property.   

The number one tunnel, and the boarding house for those workings, have yielded gold rush bottles and artifacts but it the authors contention the area around the number six tunnel was the site of the settlement started after the heavy winter of 1852 -53. Weighing in favor of this contention is the fact that the area around the number six tunnel has a natural gently sloping flat that was suitable for the construction of buildings and was not as steep as the area around the number one tunnel. The amount of abandoned structure sites discovered in the number six area far outnumber the couple of sites around the number one tunnel and boarding house.
Bottles and artifacts ranging from the early 1850’s to the middle 1880’s have been recovered from the number six area dating the site as a settlement in continual use since the early 1850’s. Everything from pontiled umbrella inks, early star base English blacks, open pontil medicines to western whiskey fifths and bitters along with several S.F. Gaslight Ammonia's have been recovered from the number six settlement area.

Today the Sierra Buttes site is still private property but heavy brush covers the site and all that's left of this important gold rush settlement are acres of broken glass and scattered trash.
A group of miners at the Number Six Tunnel Portal
(note the candles instead of carbide lamps)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Huh? Star Base Black...

Dale's post about his 8-Ray Star Base Patent Fifth reminded me of this black glass ale I've had in my garage for a few years. It has a few embossed letters (almost resembling that of directional abreviations N,E,S,W). I'll get some additional pictures posted in the next few days showing the bottle itself, as well as a better close-up of the letters, which I remember being a "C, M, W" or "G, M, W"
Any thoughts or information would be of help in identifying the manufacturer of this star-base bottle.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Huh? Star Base Fifth...

While going through some boxes this week, I came across a crude and early "Patent" fifth. Nice deep olive amber and swirls throughout. Pretty neat piece of early glass I thought. I had not previously noted the base characteristics or perhaps forgot, but there it is...a "star". Hmmm...what is this? Embossing? Yes, it is embossed "Dixon & Co. Liverpool" around the base. So, I guess San Francisco was not the only glass works to emboss a "star"...I know that some U.S.A. Hosp. Dept. bottles and even some Hostetter's have some version of the "star" but I had not seen an English bottle with this type of "star". DM

Sunday, November 23, 2014

John S. Bowman - Old Jewel Bourbon

John S. Bowman Jewel Bourbon sign.

John S. bowman was a wholesale liquor and wine dealer in San Francisco from 1886 to 1892. He also dealt in the bitters market for a brief period (Jewel bitters )  His wholesale liquor  outlet was at 213 Battery Street.

In the brief period that he was in business he produced at least five embossed bottles to advertise his products.

The first known Jewel Old Bourbon fifth was dug near Silver Peak Nevada in 1969. A few years later one surfaced in Quincy California. Since these first discoveries other examples have been found in Nevada and northern California. As of 2002 there are seven ? known examples.

The Jewel Old Bourbon flasks are amber and have a tool top and they only occur in the pint size. At least three of these flasks have been found along the Salmon River in northern California. One other Jewel flask is known to have come from the old ghost tow of Bellville Nevada. As of 2002 four of the Bowman Old Jewel flasks are known.

Thanks to the late John Thomas for the information on Bowman's Old Jewel Bourbon

( I couldn't find any pictures of the Jewel Bourbon - anyone have one to share)

Thanks to Bruce Silva for the Bowman ad and fifth picture - rs -