Thursday, November 6, 2014

Just in from Dale and Barbara Santos

" I wanted to share some photos of a very rare shaped New England demijohn that was dug in Sacramento, CA by John Fountain in 1967. It was dug in the area that houses the Train Museum in Old Sacramento. It still had some wicker on it and was found near a foundation. This form is extremely rare and

 I have never seen another in  this shape. I thought the East West connection was quite fascinating. One can only speculate as to how it made it to California. This form would date to the 1840s period. Thought you might be able to use it on the site, all the best, Dale and Barbara. PS the gentleman that I acquired this from was with John when he dug it, it was given to him by John."

Thanks Dale and Barbara for the great story and pictures of this unusual demijohn. It always amazes me how these things survive. I dug a green one gallon demi eight feet below street level here in Downieville that was sitting straight up when it was uncovered during the installation of a septic system - rs -


  1. That's a cool bottle. I can say that these must've been popular on the early ships that brought people and supplies to Ca. at the beginning of the Gold Rush. I'm guessing the wide form helped prevent them from tipping-over during voyages in rough seas. About 15 yrs ago, I dug one just like the above pictured example in a very early privy that had been missed by prior generations of diggers at the Benicia waterfront area. This area had been established with buildings and wharves that predated the discovery of gold by a few yrs. When I finally finished extracting the monster of a bottle, after about 30 mins. of carefully exposing all around it and being amazed at the enormity of it, I popped up out of the hole and yelled over to my partner ..." hey, I just dug a ship's bottle that looks like a pirate bottle !", I couldn't believe it was intact and appeared to be mint, since it was down about 8' in a privy that had lots of glass and plates in the same layer. What was also cool, was the privy was only about 50 yards across the street from the Capt Von Pfister's store/saloon adobe site, where word that spawned the Gold Rush was leaked about the initial discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill (While waiting in Benicia for the ferry to San Francisco, Capt Sutter's courier & employee, a man named Bennett had stopped in the saloon for a drink. He encountered some other patrons bragging about some coal samples they had from Mt Diablo, and couldnt resist one-upping them with the Weimer nugget he was bringing from Sutter's Mill to San Francisco for assaying !).
    Unfortunately, the Pirate bottle-dig had a sad ending...... My partner bumped it against the edge of my truck door while opening the door, and it exploded into hundreds of pieces ! Believe me, our silence that followed was more deafening than large amount of shattered glass hitting the pavement.. Talk about going from glad to sad in 60 seconds !!

  2. AP,
    Thanks for posting that very interesting digging experience and the relation of the dig to the beginnings of the California gold rush. I think we all have experienced some bonehead moves that have cost us a great find