Sunday, May 25, 2014

B.B. Thayer and Company

Wholesale and Retail Druggists

Here's an early western company that I am not very familiar with. The earliest mention of Thayer is this April 1853 ad featuring perfume and toilet articles for sale. As you can see Thayer and Little were partners located at 127 Montgomery Street in San Francisco

A tooth powder pot lid from the firm of B.B. Thayer
photo from Jason P.

In April of 1866 Thayer was State Assayer
Interesting that the state assayer of ores and metals
can recommend that invalids drink "Baldwin's Whiskey"
1866 ad for Thayer's Cod Liver Oil Candy
I can't remember ever seeing an embossed bottle from the firm of B.B. Thayer. Anyone have any information on Thayer, products he sold or pictures of embossed bottles by the Thayer firm.
I sort of remember a while back there was a seller on ebay by the moniker B.B. Thayer - wonder if he has any info on his namesake?
- rs -

Friday, May 23, 2014

H.P. Wakelee

San Francisco Druggist H.P. Wakelee had a long and successful business career providing the early western consumer with several different health related products. With all the products Wakelee manufactured and distributed the western collector has a wide variety of bottles and containers to collect.

   Circa 1860's Wakelee advertisement
Wakelee's Citrate of Magnesia w/ citrate style top
Wakelee goes mining in Nevada
Hamilton or Treasure City?
Any reports of Wakelee's coming from the White Pine?

Rare Wakelee's Bear Grease
Good for your boots or what ails you

Wakelee's Citrate w/ blob style top
thought to be English made?

Nelson's Extract of Roses and Rosemary
Another English bottle?

Wakelee's Cold Cream Lid
Several of these were found in the San Francisco "Big Dig"

Notice of H.P. Wakelee's Death in New York

And lets not forget Wakelee's most prolific product......

Wakelee's Camelline
The earliest variant is on the right.
Back in the late 1990's I dug 26 Wakelee's Camelline's
out of one pit in Sierra City. Any idea what that privy serviced?

Got Wakelees?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Hey Rick,
I may not have gotten dumped by Johny but I'll cry if I want to!  This last week has been amazing, unfortunately everything has been broken.  The bottle I would like to find the most, the one I promised myself I would dig would be the Catawba in green... I guess I'm half way there!  I almost don't want to dig at this spot again, its getting hard to take...


Monday, May 19, 2014

More on the Cassin's Bitters

Hi Dale,
The bitters site would not take my post. Perhaps you could add it for me.
Ron Miller dug a mint lime green Cassin's in a 20 foot well in 1972 near front street in Portland.
Bottle remains in the Lindsey Family.
There have several broken ones dug over the years, Ron's is only true mint one I know of dug in Portland.
Mike Valent

Did we count this one in the list of known examples?
- rs -

Sunday, May 18, 2014

More 1860's Western Glass.

 The Dr. Renz's Herb Bitters are another example of the early period of western manufactured bitters bottles. The "small letter" Renz has been described incorrectly in several of the most well known bitters references as being the later of the three versions on this bottle. For some unknown reason, this variant was described as being made in the late 1870's to 1880's. I always smiled when in the photo's one could clearly see the crude and nasty "small letter" Renz , with its crooked and sometimes different style top and overall crudity, compared to the other two variants. I suppose  the consistent mold repair seen on the small letter Renz,  was originally thought to indicate this must be the latest version of this square. It has since been learned, that the earliest Renz is indeed
an Alex Von Humboldt's recycled mold...thus the repair.
 I just love this earliest Renz, being a late 1860's bottle blown in the West, and the beautiful colors they were made in. These were blown around the same time as the Cassin,s and Lacour's Bitters. They also share almost the exact color spectrum.
 Here is my version of Lou's Old West Bottles Home Page...minus the crazy colored light pastel green specimen...Maybe some day! DM

In Search of the Lost Cassin,s

Yes, I know, sounds like the title of a Moody Blues album that came out in the late 60's.
Here's the true story of the "Portland" Cassin,s~
Deb & I moved to Southern Oregon, fresh out of San Jose State, in 1975. San Jose was quite obviously a dead end. We were just a couple more rats in the cage down there, and there was no way that we'd ever get ahead. And so, one weekend in November, we hopped in our Toyota Land Cruiser, and followed our nose.

We stopped in Medford for gas and it started snowing. A novelty for us flatland "kids", since we'd seen snow in the "valley" only once in our 20 some years there, and it was an absolute wonderment.

We grabbed a motel room for the night, tossed out job resumes the next day, and were both dutifully employed before the sun went over the yardarm that evening. Talk about young and dumb~

The next day we found a place to rent, and made a mad dash back to San José, where we gave notice at our "valley" jobs and served out our time.  That done, we loaded our meager worldly possessions in our VW square back and the U-Haul trailer that I'd haul behind the Land Cruiser and made the pilgrimage back north.

We settled in quick and easy. Priorities in order, we set out to locate fellow bottle collectors. A local bottle club, the Gold Diggers, was legendary in these parts. Marvin & Helen Davis (authors of many early bottle books), Wes & Ruby Bressie (diggers extraordinaire), Terry Skibby, Howard Heitz, and other famous names, were part of this club which dated to the early 1960's. Sadly, the Gold Diggers had recently disbanded. A new startup club, the Siskiyou Antique Bottle Collectors, was meeting later that week to fill the void left by the old club, and we received an invitation to attend.

Not long afterwards, we met Marvin & Helen Davis in person. They were kind enough to autograph our copy of their book, "Antique Bottles". I'd received it as a gift in 1969, and had proceeded to "read the ink off the pages" since. By then, they'd written other books, including a Collectors Price Guide to Bottles, Tobacco Tins and Relics, which they'd just finished. Marvin showed me a copy.

One bottle on page 33 a bottle caught my eye. It was an odd shaped bitters by the name of Cassin,s. Not just any Cassin,s, (like I'd ever seen another to compare it with) but a bright green one that sparkled like a new penny.

Wow, I remarked, a bottle worth $100~?!. "I'd sure like to see that one"!

Marvin said he'd see what he could do. The phone rang the next week; It was Wes Bressie, and he'd made arrangements for us to see the bottle. The following morning we were off to Ashland, where we pulled up in front of a huge Victorian mansion above the boulevard. A knock on the front door was answered by a middle aged couple, and we were invited in. "Oh yes, the bottle."

As we moved through the parlor, past the formal dining room and into the kitchen I spotted the holy grail. Illuminated by the morning son, on a window ledge, sat the most incredible bottle I'd ever seen. They invited me to pick it up, as long as I was careful. I'd just been bitten by the bitters bug!

Funny story, they said, as we went into an adjoining room. They'd moved the century old upright piano from one side of the room to the other. It had played fine before, but one key had started making a clanking noise after the move. Thinking that one of the 100 year old strings had let loose, they called in a piano tuner. Imagine everyone's surprise, when the back was removed, and the culprit proved to be not a broken string, but an unbroken old bottle instead.

And so, the Cassin,s bottle had sat in the window sill ever since. They liked the way the sun played off of it. So did I!

A few years later I was making decent money, had started to build a respectable western bitters collection (in addition to the whiskies) and thought I'd take the next step up the collecting ladder. Heck, I figured I'd just go straight for the top rung! Cassin,s or bust! We'd bought a place in Ashland, just a few blocks away from the mansion and one day I stopped in unannounced. They remembered me and invited me in. Sorry, the bottle was no longer residing in the kitchen window; it was now double wrapped in socks and passing time in a safe deposit box. And no, it wasn't for sale for any price. (Seems that I wasn't the only one who knew about the Cassin,s and who had tracked it down.) The main difference is that although I was prepared to offer more than the $100~ estimate in the book, someone else had already dangled $5000~ in front of them. That offer scared them and since they'd been offered $5K, they thought that it might be worth even more.

In the early 80's I figured I'd make another run at it since I could now afford the price of admission. I made a trip to the bank, withdrew enough $100~ bills to choke a mule, and confidently made another unannounced appearance. A stranger opened the door. Sorry, the previous owners had sold and moved. No, they didn't know where they'd moved to; "somewhere up north" they thought. My heart sank through my boots.

Time passed and one day, in a moment of inspiration, I decided to make a concerted effort to track down the folks and the bottle. Off to the library I went, and sure enough, in a city not too far north of here, I found both husband and wife listed in a phone directory. With renewed confidence, I sent a letter to them. It came back like a boomerang stamped, "return to sender, not at this address, unable to forward".

Disgusted, I pretty much gave up on ever finding the bottle again. And then one day, a friend of mine, with more resources that I had, offered to pick up the trail for me. About a week later, Bill called. Success! He'd found them. They'd moved twice, but were still up north. Armed with phone number and address, I wasted no time. A phone call this time instead of a letter. The Cassin,s would be mine. Finally!

"Hi, remember me from Ashland?" "I'd still very much like to buy your Cassin,s bottle~". "You what?" "Just a couple of weeks ago?" "For How Much!!??!!"

On the flip side, the owners got a significant amount for it, both the buyer and seller were happy, and the new owner turned out to be the same person that had crossed my path many years before. The "lost Cassin,s" now resides in a collection in the S.F. North Bay, no doubt flanked on both sides by other Cassin,s.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A look at a variant 1 and 2 Cassin's bitters bottle

Here is a look at both mold styles of this bottle. Amber color is predominant
in the variant 1 mold examples, with green being the predominant color for the variant 2 mold examples.
I don't know about all of you but I sure have enjoyed the discussion and pictures of the Cassin's Grape Brandy Bitters that has been featured on the site the last week or so.

It sure would be nice to see a post on the history, digging stories or an account of the amount of known Cassin's in collections. This rare bottle has some interesting stories to be told.

Anyone want to step up to the plate on this one.
- rs -

Remember this Marysville find?

Friday, May 16, 2014

No Flashes...Unless I keep it in the Sun!

I have been quite interested in the discussion of the recent Cassin,s find. It is obvious to me that this may never have been a "perfect" bottle. It is full of manufacturing, and post manufacturing flashes, cracks and bruises. The "fleabite" from the shoulder up is a bit of a distraction, but it does not look like "fresh break" to me, and if the remaining pieces were not recovered, it is just another of the many whacked Cassin.s. These things are so fragile and grenade if you look at them. I have glued a few back together.
I have also read the suggested method of acclimating an early bottle to the fresh atmosphere after spending 140 years in the ground. This makes good sense, and if I ever dig a good bottle, I will try this. my Bromo's seem to stay intact even if I leave them on the roof of my vehicle and drive off.
Here is a true miracle of western glass...I hope you are not sick of seeing it, but for a wicked foamy piece of 1860s glass that was found, and left under a log for 50 years until found again, there is not one check, flash, bruise, or scratch. ( the apparent scratch near the "C" is one of Buzzy's my dog shed hair). Amazing how a bottle enduring snow, sub freezing temperatures, heat, and the occasional elk could survive
..but here it is! I had better get her back inside as this 95 degree heat might not be what she likes.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

More on the Cassin's


Could you add these photos showing how poorly made and damaged this Cassins was before it may have come into contact with a shovel. It is full of cracks, flashes, checks, and UV crazing.  Sad, but we never recovered all the pieces and will never truly know if the bottle would have been intact.

Whats the story on that Simons and Rosenbaums, gold country dump or privy ?


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

One More to Cry Over

This Cassin's was supposedly broken by the digger with his shovel last week. Now that's enough to make you cry.....

And here's a EC&M insulator from the 1871 Gold Lake telegraph line that came from the limb of an ancient oak tree in Sierra City.

Let's take stock of what's happened lately. A whole variant two Lacour's from a 1930's trash dump. An EC&M encased in a oak limb, a broken G.A. Simons, a broken Rosenbaums and now a broken Cassin's. Looks like someone is going to hit the jackpot in the very near future - Keep digging or metal detecting! - rs -

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Its Crying Time Again

Hey Rick,
thought you might like to post these heart breakers from today's dig.  I didn't bring home anything whole that is worth mentioning but the shards man, the shards!  lol  Wow I would sure love to dig a "G. A. Simon's Medicated Aromatic Bitters!"  The Emerald Green Rosenbaums would have been alright too!  Well at least I live to dig another day, a broken heart cant kill you can it?

Take care, 


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Anyone seen one of these ??

Here's a bottle I pulled out this wknd.  Sure has a Western blown look and feel to the glass and embossing. Deep aqua sparkle glass, heavy embossing. Looks to be late 1870s early 1880s.

 It's 7" tall, applied top, shaped like an Injection Brou bottle (you know, those French venereal treatments we dig at whorehouse and boarding house sites on occasion).
Could this have possibly been a Western venereal treatment bottle ???  P.P.M. CO     The only guess off the top of my head for the initials was Perry Pratt Medical Co. but I'm pretty sure that's not right.
I'm hoping someone out there can solve the mystery on this one.   I'm 99.9% sure it's a western blown bottle.


5/12 Update from Eric McG:

You found a bottle produced for the Pacific Proprietary Medicine Co., who operated in San Francisco from 1872 to 1877. They concocted a variety of medicines so I am assuming the bottles may have held a number of products. I have only seen a couple of these

5/13 Update:

Looks like the company possibly may have started out as the Pacific Proprietary Medicine Depot (PPM D)   and then morphed into the Pacific Proprietary Medicine Co. (PPM CO). Not sure if these two were one in the same company or not (See Bruce's second email below).  Still waiting on additional info on that.  Also received a cool text this morning from Numa G, saying he found something showing the PPM CO exhibited Elephant Bitters at the 1875 Industrial Fair, and that D.L. Munson was listed in 1877 running the company in S.F. !!  Wow... Elephant Bitters......  would sure like to see that embossed on a Western bottle !!



Two emails just in from Bruce of Western Whiskey Gazette !

I compared your base alongside a S.F. spice. It appears to be a modified mold with flat sides and a "remodeled" neck and closure.
Definitely western glass in my opinion.


And then he found this ad....... (San Francisco Elevator newspaper Sept 25, 1868)

First reference 1868. Talk about a pedigree!



5/14 update: Two supporting publications just in from Numa G

How about some 'ELEPHANT' BITTERS !!   PPM Co displayed these at the 1875 Fair (see ad below sent to me by Numa G ).  Could there be an embossed one of these out there waiting to be dug, or did they simply put all of their products in the PPM CO bottle pictured above.... ?? AP

Sept 11, 1875 ad for Industrial Fair


and an 1877 Directory listing showing D.L. Munson in charge

Thanks go out to Bruce, Eric, and Andrew for researching and each  adding pieces to the puzzle....quickly solving the mystery of this bottle !  Although, now a new mystery has been created from this research.... there may be an Elephant in the " bottle room"  somewhere  out there !!  At least I hope so.....

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Lets Get Ready for Santa Rosa


Old Bottles, a Flea Market and Pizza - Count Me In! - rs -

Ebay's Good, Bad and Ugly

Have you looked at ebay lately? I check the bottle listings on ebay every few days to keep up with what is being offered and at what price some of the bottles I am interested in are selling for.
Some of our fellow collectors check the bottle listings on ebay every few hours. These are the collectors / dealers that use the site to not only put bottles on their shelves but to put a profit in their pocket. This old collector has neither the time nor patience to spend my day looking at listing after listing trying to find something I can make a buck off of.

After spending some time on the ebay bottle section this morning here are some of the more interesting items I encountered:

The Good, Bad and Ugly - you decide

Antique BITTERS BOTTLE 13" Whiskey OLIVE GREEN Kick-Up Pontil LADY LEG c.18th!??

Up for bid is the vintage/antique WINE / WATER / LIQUOR and/or BITTERS BOTTLE, as seen in the pictures / as described in the title. Few small, old fleabites at lip (very, very minor) but otherwise excellent, near mint condition with NO major defects whatsoever!
Starting bid on this beauty is $430.23 with free shipping!
 Here's another rare whiskey wine liquor and / or bitters bottle from the same delusional seller

Up for bid is the antique ALE, WHISKEY, WINE or Other Liquor and/or BITTERS BOTTLE from the late 18th or very early 19th century, as seen in the pictures / as described in the title. Excellent vintage condition with minor scuffs, scratches, stains, etc but absolutely NO major defects whatsoever. I believe it is a dip mold type, with no seams and a hand applied, drippy underside lip. Base is smooth, un-embossed...possible bare iron pontil? Edge/rim of base has appropriate wear for its age. Some staining at interior. Being offered for sale AS-FOUND, unlearned. May require a thorough detailing to bring to its full potential
Starting bid on this beauty is only $649.33 with free shipping!
Incredible GREEN Western Bitters
Here is a superior example of San Francisco glass! This one is a beautiful and glowing shade of lime/yellow green MUCH more brilliant than my photos depict.
I have to agree with the seller of this bottle. It is a beautiful example of western glass. The bidding is still open on this bottle and sits at $535.00
Here's the pic:
Am I out of focus, does the lip have one issue or three issues?
This fifth has a reasonable ( ? ) opening bid of $1000
I especially like the manila colored square of paper behind the bottle
Good luck on your ebay search for that special bottle - rs -

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Saddle Ridge Hoard

Remember that big hoard of gold coins that were found in the gold country last year?

The Grass Valley Old West Show has a display of the gold coins that will be offered for sale.

Some of the rarest and finest examples of American gold coins are on display along with the old rusty cans they were found in.

The Grass Valley Old West Show opens today at the Nevada County Fairgrounds at 10:00 am. Admission is $7.00

The Old West Show has a lot more than a display of gold coins - western memorabilia, antique firearms. Native American items, early western advertising and yes......antique bottles