Sunday, March 30, 2014

Jas. J. McDonnell

I guess I need to get out more as another bottle that I have never seen before was recently dug. This is an oval 1880s amber pharmacy embossed " Jas. J. McDonnell  ( monogram) Apothecary, Medical Hall, San Francisco" I have Googled Jas. J. McDonnell, and came up with nothing, and nobody I have asked has seen one of these either. I thought I would post and see if anyone has dug one, or knows anything about this bottle. Thanks! DM.

From Rick Hall down in the Cajon Zone.......

Hi Rick,
 Hope All is Well up there, the snow must be melting by now? Anyways, I tried to put something on the Western Bitters Website and I got up today and I didn’t see it so I am not sure I did it right? I listed these 2 pictures and my comment was - - - - 

  This is an Ale bottle Dug in the Bay Area, on the Base it has the Number 4, like many of the Western Made & Dug Spices I have seen, Would this maybe be a Western Made Bottle? I Realize it is Not an Expensive bottle, but, I was Curious about it.  Thanks and see you in a bottle show someday.
 Rick Hall

Friday, March 28, 2014

Counting Down to Antioch!

Gary, Darla and the gang are working hard to make this years 48th annual show another great event for your enjoyment.

Lots of bottles and collectables to consider adding to your collection - I have always found something interesting to purchase at the GGHBS show - See you in Antioch - rs -

Monday, March 24, 2014

Downieville Bottle Show Update

Here's the latest news on the upcoming Downieville Bottle Show.
Show Date:
 Friday September 12th 5:00 pm Dealer BBQ and Wine Tasting Event
 Saturday September 13th Dealer setup 7:00 am to 8am - early lookers 8am to 10am - Free admission 10am to 3pm

There is a car show in Sierra City the same weekend as the bottle show and the motels are going to fill up really fast. If you are planning on staying here in the area I would recommend you get your motel reservations in early ( like in the next week or so as the Riverside is already half booked for that weekend)...

Here's a list of the motels in the area if you need to make reservations....
The Carriage House Inn (on the river)                           800 296-2289
Downieville River Inn & Resort                            800 696-3308
Helm's St. Charles Inn Goodyears Bar                          530 289-3289
The Lure Resort                                                             530 289-3465
Riverside Inn                                                                  530 289-1000
Sierra Shangri La                                                           530 289-3455
Two Rivers Rentals                                                        530 289-3520

Sales Table contracts will be in the mail in the next week or so
Hope to see you in Downieville in September

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pearson Brothers - Placerville and Bodie California

John McFarland Pearson started business in Placerville selling ice,
which he cut and stored at his ice house above Riverton. In 1852 he established the Pearson Soda Works at 594 Main street in downtown Placerville. 

                                 The Placerville Soda Works

In 1859 Pearson built the lower floor in his building on upper Main Street. Caves, or abandoned mines, behind the stone structure were used to store ice and keep the soda cold. In 1890 John Sr. died and John Pearson Jr. carried on the business expanding it to include the sale of beer, wine and cider. 

According to Peck Markota, in his book "Western Blob Top Soda and Mineral Water Bottles"  The first Pearson bottle embossed Pearson's Soda Works dates before 1879 and was probably in production during the early to late 1870's.

Pearson Soda Bottles
 On the left is the first embossed Pearson's Soda Works from Placerville and at right the Pearson Bros. from Bodie
It is not known when the Pearson brothers opened their Soda works in Bodie but I have seen billheads and invoices dating from the early 1880's to about 1890. (If memory serves me)
Both of the Pearson Soda bottles are embossed with the curved R's associated with the San Francisco Glass houses
Applied top with original bale on Pearson Soda Works
 Applied Top on the Pearson Bodie bottle
(note the marks left from the gravitating stopper)
Beautiful downtown Bodie 
I was lucky enough to acquire these bottle this week and will have them at the Golden Gate Bottle Show next month in Antioch.....
See you there! - rs -

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Henley's Royal balsam

The Henley bottles have always been one of my favorites. There are likely more early Henley's medicines and bitters than any other western brand with the Royal Balsam being one of the earliest. This product was introduced in the late 1860s and was distributed mainly in Oregon and Northern California.I know that Portland has kicked out the majority of them. Prior to the "Big Dig" of 1998 in San Francisco, there were less than 10 examples in western collections, and although 6 more were dug in the City, these are still considered rare and desirable western medicines. For as long as this brand was sold ( almost 10 years), there are comparatively few in collections. I have seen them with a giant flying saucer type top, and this small applied top in varying shades of aqua. The shape is a bit unusual being a tall and thin form which is difficult to stand up with any degree of stability.
The list of Henley products is long with the many versions of the IXL Bitters, the OK Bitters, Eye Opener, two variants of the Celery Beef and Iron, Dandilion Tonic, Indian Queen Hair Restorative, Royal Palm Gin, Dew of the Alps, Oregon Kidney Tea, Regulator, and The Royal Balsam. Collecting one of each is a tough challenge and I only know of one collector who has all of the intact known


specimens, and the Dew of the Alps is still a "White Whale". I am sure more of the Henley products will come to light some day like the Tamarack...maybe THIS Spring! DM.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Phil Blumauer- Portland, Or.

Here is another "mystery bottle" from Oregon. I have lived in Oregon my entire life and had never heard of this bottle before this example was recently dug over 500 miles from it's city of origin. The Celro Cola brand was produced from about 1905 through 1920 and is known to come in machine made amber squares, often with a label. This example appears to be older and in fact was dug in 1880s context. I have checked with the old time Portland diggers as well as those currently exploring the Rose City, and not one has ever heard of this bottle, let alone dug one! Now that is rare. I have since found one other collector in eastern Oregon who has another example, so this makes two known to me.
 What is odd is that the druggist "Phil Blumauer" was known to have operated a drug store in Portland for two years, 1896-7, however since this square was found in total 1880s context, the dates just do not add up. The embossing "Celery Kola" is also different from the "Celro-Kola", so the plot thickens. This is a full size "bitters" square, and if you look closely, the neck was purposely lengthened by almost an inch making for a very long neck. Why would they do this? As one who appreciates Oregon glass, this is one I am grateful to have in my collection. Any more of these out there? DM

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Gold Rush Artifact

 About 10 years ago, one of my clients in Southern Oregon mentioned her family history and her great, great, great Grandparents had traveled across the US from Ohio to seek a new life in California in 1852. What was different was that unlike most gold seekers which were 90% men, both husband and wife made the trek for almost seven months to seek their "El Dorado" and a new life in the untamed west. Her story was very interesting and very clear in detail even though removed by many generations. She told me about the dreaded cholera and it's impact on the wagon train, taking young and old to their graves.Upon arriving in San Francisco in November 1852, They BOTH headed for the gold fields for a grueling Winter. She would be the only woman for miles and it was as uncivilized as it gets. Being very worried about disease and cholera. they had their own private "stash" of herbs, and medicines prepared by an apothecary in Ohio. For some reason , some of the medicine was stored in a blue soda bottle.. It is believed that the thickness of the bottle would protect the precious liquid from being broken and lost during travel in the mountains.
 Fast forward to 2004, when after expressing my fascination with the California Gold Rush, and it's artifacts ( especially bottles), this sweet little German woman pointed to a curio cabinet in the living room. In the back of this cabinet was the unmistakable large top of a blue EARLY soda. I asked her if I could look at it, and she agreed. It was covered with dust, but I was holding a deep cobalt blue B&G San Francisco pontiled soda. A beautiful example with the giant flying saucer top, and full iron on the pontil. She knew I loved bottles, and although this was a VERY important bottle to her family, she offered it to me. The only condition was that I must keep it and keep

her family's history alive. I made the promise and the bottle has been in my collection in a box ever since.
 What is incredible about this soda is that it has NEVER been cleaned or used for that matter. It retains it's full luster as the day it was made. No wear, no stain. It is as attic mint as an 1850s soda can be. While going through boxes looking for sale or trade stock to buy a western bitters, I came across this beauty again. All I can do is recall Judith's story...I do not know how accurate it is, but I will always cherish this bottle and wanted to share it with all of you. Can you imagine where this gem has been? DM

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Frizelle San Francisco

It seems that there are more western bottles that I know little or nothing about, than those I do. Here is one that I have not been able to find ANY information on. This is a relatively large medicine with an applied top. It is embossed " Frizelle Bros.Manuf'g Chemists, San Francisco, Cal". The height is 9" tall. The top is interesting in that it is almost a "wrap around" style with green streaks throughout. This example was found in California and I have not seen another. I would appreciate any information on this one. Thanks! Dale M.


From Eric McGuire:

I have been aware of the Frizelle Bros. bottle for a few years now and the specimen shown at the 49er event in Roseville is the only one I am aware of, but there are probably others in Michigan. The Frizelle brothers were Seymour Fuller Frizelle and Charles Samuel Frizelle.  Natives of New York, they began a drug business in East Saginaw, Michigan in the early 1860's. Plagued by fires that roared through the town, it is likely that is what contributed to the business failure. In 1871 Seymour Frizelle declared bankruptcy and by 1875 he had located in San Francisco where he was working as a drug clerk for William H. Wood. Charles stayed in East Saginaw.

After a few years Seymour operated his own drug store in San Francisco and also opened a steam bath. By December 1879 Seymour moved back to Michigan and rejoined Charles in the drug business, as Frizelle Brothers. In fact, there may have been a continuing partnership with the brothers even while Seymour was in San Francisco, based on the lettering found on the subject bottle.  No advertising or newspaper information has been found to determine what was contained in the bottle while Seymour Frizelle resided in San Francisco. It appears the bottle was made to contain a variety of products.

Only after Seymour Frizelle moved back to Michigan does this picture become a little clearer. Upon his return, the first advertisements appeared that link this all together. The Michigan newspapers soon began running advertisements implying that the Frizelle Brothers were located in San Francisco, even though neither of the brothers were located there at that time.  It is obvious that the mold for the bottle was manufactured in San Francisco, but what is not clear is whether any bottles were actually blown there. This is clearly a guess, but based on the appearance of the glass and style of the top finish, it may be possible that the Frizelle bottles were actually blown in the Midwest.  I am not sure where this bottle was found but another example has been noted online in a "hazy" condition.

At any rate, the bottle represents an interesting piece of history as information unfolds about the Frizelle Brothers.

Once again thanks Eric for the great research on these rare western bottles and their manufacturers


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

In From Eric McGuire

Sorry I haven't been able to respond sooner regarding the Ainaxab bottle.  It's just crazy that, when you retire, you don't seem to have enough time to do anything. Anyway, I have seen two variants of this bottle. The earliest is the one pictured by Dale M.  First advertised in 1881, in 1882 a change in the name occurred from J.A. GIRARDIN & CO.  to the AINAXAB MANUFACTURING CO. This may have reflected an incorporation, and or, the exit of the previous proprietor. What I assume to be the later version does not have the name of Girardin embossed on it.

 The first and second initial of Girardin is transposed in all the advertisements compared to those on the bottle. All of the early ads for this product, and there are a good number, show "J. A. Girardin & Co." as proprietor.  I am fairly confident  this person was Jesus Augustin Girardin. He was born in Monterey, CA, in 1850 to Swiss born Jean (Juan) Girardin and Mexican born, Manuela  Perez, once the owners of what is now called "The Stevenson House", a historic  landmark in Monterey where Robert Louis Stevenson had rented a room in 1879, the same year that Juan Girardin died.  Manuela then married Victor Canet on February 23, 1883. She died in 1906. Jesus Girardin died in 1897 and is buried in the Girardin plot at San Carlos Cemetery in Monterey. His grave marker  Jesus was a jeweler by trade. His brothers, Manuel and John Girardin, were  barbers in San Francisco, and since Ainaxab was a beauty product for the skin, I suspect they were involved with the product as well.

Born in Prague in 1845, Maximillian Taubles escaped the unrest of his country and came to California, where he became the manager of the Ainaxab Manufacturing Company in 1882. He didn't stay long and quickly joined on as manager of Ichi Ban, a San Francisco store specializing in the sale of Asian goods. Not satisfied with this line of work, and succumbing to his love of writing, Taubles gained dubious fame when he traveled to Seoul, Korea, to write for Harper's Monthly Magazine.  He witnessed a period of widespread disease and contracted small pox, becoming the first Westerner to die in Seoul, on March 15, 1886
The last mention of the Ainaxab Manufacturing Company that I could find was in 1894 when Willis P. Haynes was the manager. Haynes was the son of California State Supreme Court Judge, John Haynes. Willis was a successful businessman who died in Tucson, AZ, on January 17, 1911. Haynes moved to Arizona about 1886 where he gained notoriety as a photographer. Beginning about 1898 Haynes worked in the insurance and real estate fields, mostly in Tucson. It is somewhat of a mystery what happened to the Ainaxab Manufacturing Company from the end of 1882 until its documentation in 1894 when Haynes was manager.  It is equally surprising that Haynes became associated with the company in 1894, when most of that decade he resided in Arizona. After 1894 Ainaxab appears to have gone into permanent hibernation.

The above advertisement was published in the 1894 edition of the San Francisco Directory
Thanks Eric for the well researched info on the AINAXIB

More Dectetive Work on Gold Coins Comes to Light

Gold coins found by California couple unlikely stolen from U.S. Mint
By Samantha Schaefer

Gold coins worth $10 million that were discovered by a Northern California couple were not likely stolen in a 1901 U.S. Mint theft in San Francisco, an official said Tuesday.
“We do not have any information linking the Saddle Ridge Hoard coins to any thefts at any United States Mint facility,” U.S. Mint spokesman Adam Stump said in a statement, adding that lawyers have looked into the matter.
In 1901, six bags of double eagle gold coins -- 250 $20 coins in each -- went missing from the San Francisco Mint. Chief Clerk Walter Dimmick was convicted of stealing the $30,000 and served time in San Quentin prison for what was later called the Dimmick Defalcation.
The coins were never recovered, but a home owned by a Mint superintendent was used to cover part of the loss.
Each bag of coins in Dimmick’s cache would have contained coins with the same date and mint mark, said David McCarthy, senior numismatist for Kagin's Inc., which evaluated the Saddle Ridge Hoard.
The cache discovered last year contains a mix of coins with 72 distinct date and mint mark combinations, he said. The 1,427 coins, most of them $20 pieces, are dated between 1847 and 1894.
"That’s 12 times as many permutations as we should have if it was the group that Dimmick defalcated with,” McCarthy said, adding that it's doubtful the mint would have coins made more than 50 years earlier still in its stocks.
The numismatist firm did extensive research to determine whether the coins were ill-gotten, he said. McCarthy said he was aware of the Dimmick story before the cache was discovered but never suspected the coins were from the theft because he knew what that lot would have looked like.
Despite hearing from quite a few people, Kagin's has not received any credible claims to the coins and does not expect to, he said.
Numerous theories have cropped up since the discovery of the Saddle Ridge Hoard was announced last week.
Another suggests the coins may have been buried by the Knights of the Golden Circle, a secretive, subversive Confederate group that some believe buried millions in ill-gotten gold across a dozen states to finance a second Civil War.
Though the coins very well could be a fortune buried by a wealthy businessman, the time period, markers near the cache and manner in which the coins were buried fit the mold of the KGC, said Warren Getler, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who coauthored “Rebel Gold,” a book about the group.
Getler and coauthor Bob Brewer argue in the book the KGC existed for many decades after the Civil War and continued to bury and protect underground gold and silver caches.
The Northern California couple, identified only as John and Mary by Kagin's, had walked the path on their gold country property for years before they spotted the edge of a rusty can peeking out of the moss in February 2013. When the lid cracked off, they found dirt-encrusted coins, some in better condition than those on display in museums.
"I looked around over my shoulder to see if someone was looking at me — I had the idea of someone on horseback in my head. It's impossible to describe really, the strange reality of that moment," John said in an interview transcript.
The Saddle Ridge Hoard, named for the space on their property, may be the most valuable cache ever found in North America, with an estimated value of more than $10 million. If you melted the coins, the gold alone would be worth $2 million, said David Hall, co-founder of Professional Coin Grading Services in Newport Beach, who recently authenticated them.
Thirteen of the coins are the finest of their kind. One "miraculous coin," an 1866 $20 piece made in San Francisco and missing "In God We Trust," could bring $1 million on its own, Hall said. When the motto was added to the coin in 1866, some were still minted without the phrase, he said.
Had the couple attempted to clean the delicate surface of the piece, they could have reduced the value to $7,000 or $8,000 in under a minute, McCarthy said.
Most of the hoard will be sold on in late May or early June to allow a broader swath of the public to access them, McCarthy said. The couple, who will donate some of the profit to charity, said the find will allow them to keep their property.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Thanks Ainaxab

I've been called a data digger. Seems that I have better luck digging up history than I do bottles these days.

Recently, Dale posted a "new find".

Ainaxab, The Celebrated Egyptian Elixi for the Skin, A.J. Girardin & Co. San Francisco


I told him that I'd do some "prospecting" for him and see what I could find. Talk about a dead end...

Tom Q. chimed in the other day and said that he'd dug 3 or 4 Ainaxab's over the years; all in late 70's or early 80's context. I recalled having dug one in the upper reaches of the Klamath River back in the late 1970's. It was broken, and was in an area that was somewhat later; a railroad track and trestle construction camp that post dated their estimate of age by at least 15 years. Mine was probably a throwback.

After what seemed like forever, pouring over S.F. directories and newspapers dating from ca. 1875 - 1905, I admitted defeat. Both the man and the brand eluded my best efforts to track them down.
I had the TV on and overheard the hype about the gold coin find that had gone viral.

I'd heard about it some time before, thought "neat", and quickly forgot about it. But this time, for whatever reason, I figured that I stood as good of a chance (or lack thereof) of putting the pieces of the gold coin hoard together as I did of locating Ainaxab or A.J. Girardin.

It took a while, since my initial premise was slightly off. I figured that the gold coins were the spoils of a bank or Wells Fargo heist gone bad and that the masked men had been killed before they could recover the loot.

But the stagecoach robbery just didn't fit. Stage robberies dwindled with Black Bart's apprehension and subsequent sentencing on  November 16, 1883 and were all but non-existent by the mid 1890's; the year appearing on the most recent gold coin of the stash. Trains were the prize of the day by then. California newspaper articles from 1894 - 1905 didn't list anything of particular interest relating to trains either. As such, I fell back on the bank theft concept.

I used gold / coin / theft / bank and came up pretty much empty handed. Something kept bugging me. Kagin stated that the coins dubbed "The Saddle Ridge Hoard" ranged in age from 1847 - 1894, and "All of the 1,427 coins, are in un-circulated, mint condition". To repeat, "All are in un-circulated, mint condition". Kagin further stated that the face value of the gold pieces adds up to about $27,000
And so, I left "Bank" out of the search parameters, and started with newspaper articles that mentioned significant gold coin thefts in 1894. Moving forward chronologically, I came up blank; until 1901!

On July 4, 1901, I hit pay dirt, thanks to the San Francisco Call.
Talk about fireworks going off!
Chief Clerk, Walter M. Dimmick, of the US Mint in San Francisco is at the heart of this mystery! Yep $30,000~ in gold had turned up missing! Mint and uncirculated gold coins, pilfered one at a time, from sack after sack of coins in the vault at the US mint.



The above articles cover the span of time from July 4, 1901 through April 14, 1903, when Dimmick entered San Quentin. At no time did Chief Clerk Walter M. Dimmick ever disclose where the stolen gold had been hidden. Walter Dimmick went to the grave with his secret. The gold never surfaced.

At least not until last Spring? 
Was the find a godsend, or a curse to the property owners...
The big question is, what becomes of it now?

Will the US government play nice and let the finders be keepers?
(Photos of gold coins courtesy of Holabird - Kagin)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ainaxab Egyptian Elixr

In keeping with the skin cream theme, here is a recent find from a late 70's early 80's layer. It is very elaborate in embossing with many Egyptian symbols, and  a funny name. " Ainaxab, The Celebrated Egyptian Elixir

 for the Skin, A.J.Girardin & Co. San Francisco". Although it is not super early and colored, this is quite a bottle. It is 6 1/2" tall with an almost flat base, and a graceful tooled top. I have not been able to find out anything about it. It must be scarce, as I have never seen one before. I would appreciate any historical information on this medicine, and if they are known to be found in a certain area. Thanks! DM.