Sunday, February 28, 2016

Oregon's Rarest Blob Soda- H.D. Albany, O.

 California has some beautiful and rare western blown blob soda's. I know of none from the State of Washington, and of the handful of Oregon blobs, the H.D. Albany ranks at or near the top of the short list for rarity. The H.D. is one of two Oregon blob sodas that are not from Portland, and both are from Albany, Oregon. The scarce Hoffman, Joseph with an embossed lion, and the H.D.
 Interestingly, there is not much information on this soda, and the only research I could find as from Ron Fowler's book, and Bill Lindsey.

 Apparently, the "H.D." stood for Hoffman, Davis,which were located on "The North side of First Street, 3 doors E. of Montgomery St. in Albany". That is pretty specific, albiet with no actual numbered address. The 1884 Sanborn shows nothing at this location at that time, and the bottle appears to be from the mid to later 1870s. The tops are always applied, and the color is typically a rich deeper blue aqua. The embossed letters are very thick and crude and most I have seen are nicely whittled overall.This soda is thought to be the precursor to the later Hoffman, Joseph which comes both tooled and applied. The H.D. definitely has the look of a 70s soda and Fowler states "pre 1880" in his research.It is theorized that the H.D. was bottled at the Albany Soda Works which later became the City Bottling Co.

 The H.D. Albany, O. soda is very rare, with perhaps six or so known. Every example I have seen was dug in Oregon within 100 miles of Albany. I believe there was only a batch or two blown, as all but one are deep blue aqua with one example being a deeper greenish aqua.

 For pure Oregon history, this soda is tough to beat...even though the actual history is pretty sparse. While not an amber Cottle Post, the H.D. is more rare and it's specific information, very elusive. I would like to know if any have been dug in Washington, or California. DM.

Friday, February 26, 2016

More on Ken Salazar

Ken Salazar- Bottle Diggers’ Hall of Fame - Friend

I first met Ken on a fresh lot in Suisun City, about 1975, when I was just getting started with the digging part of bottle collecting.  He used to dig in the 1970’s with Ron Smith, who was my neighbor’s brother-in-law, and a legendary digger who started digging Benicia in the early 1960’s. They were both out on the lot and had just finished digging a privy that produced a cobalt Crystal soda. Being only 14, I was amazed to see that you could actually go out and dig-up something that cool!   Ron’s brother-in-law, Greg, whispered in my ear, while pointing over towards Ken “that guy is the “Soda King”.  I asked him what that meant.  He told me Ken had dug up more rare California sodas than anyone, and has them all in his collection at his house in San Francisco.  I was impressed and believed it, after having seen the cobalt soda they just found.

A couple of years later, would be the next time I ran into Ken.  Again, it was on an empty lot, this time in Benicia.  He was with Ron Smith, and had probably been digging in backyards earlier that day, as it wasn’t until afternoon that they showed up on the lot.  They had done very well digging Benicia, having found the Old Woodburn there in 1972, and a yellow Durham a few yrs later.  My brother and I were down about 9’ in a hell hole, and going thru a massive layer of broken bricks.  I’ll never forget Ken looking down from above at me in the hole and saying… “Are you sure there’s anything down there” ?? … kinda like we were crazy for digging so deep thru a ton of bricks (we really didn’t know if there were any bottles down there or not, but didn’t have any other hole we could dig and wanted to see what was under all of the bricks, which turned out to be 3 or 4 feet thick).  This was the first time he’d seen me digging a hole.  They left and then returned later when we were down 12’, and we had a dozen or so mostly 70’s sodas next to the hole (the best being a blue Pacific Congress and a blue Taylor Valparaiso),  and we also had a small-design Miller’s flask wrapped in the bucket.  I could tell by Ken’s comments to Ron, and by the look on his face that he was very impressed.  We were impressed too,,,,, not only because of what we’d found, but because us kids had just impressed the “Soda King”.

I started going to bottle shows, and saw that Ken was one of the main sellers, always with a crowd of buyers gathered at his table, eager to purchase his fresh digs.  Back in the day, when Ken was digging more good bottles, more often that anyone, he sold his stuff at very reasonable prices.  Dealers would be three deep in front of his table trying to get a bottle or two.   Ken would always ask what my brother and I had been finding lately.  By that time, we had graduated to backyard digging too, and I think Ken got a kick out of hearing how us kids operated.  He asked me for my number, and in the mid 80’s would invite me to dig in the City and Oakland occasionally, especially when he found a deep hole.  Ken hated deep ones!  By the early 90’s, I was Ken’s fulltime partner.  That’s when I got a chance to see him really work his mojo!

When it came to digging the good stuff, Ken had “bottle radar”.  He could zero-in on the house on each block that had the good glass, and leave the other houses for future diggers to scrimp from.  He wasn’t known for throwing tons of dirt, mainly because he didn’t have to.  Later, after he retired from digging, some of us coined the phrase; the “ Ken luck”, for when someone gets a good bottle almost every time they go digging.  He was also really good at getting permission, and his forte was going into the roughest, most dangerous neighborhoods to door-knock.  Most of his good bottles came from permission-digs behind old bldgs.  I once saw him tell a black lady that she’d been “watching too much Oprah”, after she tried to convince her husband not to let us dig his rental property duplexes, because we might get rich off of them !  Ken told them , “yeah, we’re going to the Bahamas “.  That Oprah remark could’ve gone either way, but lucky for us, they both laughed, and he got the permission.  We ended-up digging three olive-amber single-roll Wormser Bros flasks later that day !

  I’d heard him tell his ”Benicia stage coach stop” story at least half a dozen times over the years, where he’d gone out in this big field and probed an 1850’s pit that had blue M.R.  Sacto sodas.  So one day, about 1995, it was looking like we were going to get rained-out and sure wouldn’t  be a good day to knock on doors.  I told him about a spot that I’d been looking at in an old 1870’s atlas, where it showed a horse racetrack out of town, 4 miles from the Post Office.  I’d driven the 4 miles several times earlier in the year, trying to take the old roads leading out of town, in order to be as accurate as possible.  Each time, I wound-up at this huge field with nothing in it except for a giant tree that looked very old.  I thought when we pulled up to the lot that rainy day,  Ken would tell me that he “had more bottles in his head than that lot”, or we were going to look like “2 monkeys humping a football” (two of many Ken-ism’s), since it literally was one of those needle in a haystack type of situations.  Because…. In the past I had taken him to other spots not as questionable, that were even on the Sanborns, and he wouldn’t even get out of the truck.  So, when he eagerly hopped out of the truck this time, in the rain, and grabbed his probe,  I was sort of surprised and not, at the same time; since I knew  about his bottle radar.  We weren’t out of the truck for more than 10 mins, and he probed a pit ! Then I probed close by and hit one too. We dug those, and he probed a third one after that…… the old one.  It was nothing but sodas and whiskies, all 1870’s and early 80’s, mostly commons, except for one killer blue San Francisco Glass Works soda with a million bubbles !  I probed a fourth and final hole at the end of the day, and he said he didn’t want to dig it, stating: “ that hole and .50 cents will get you a cup of coffee”,  and for me to find someone else to dig it with.  Well, he was right.  It only had one bottle, an Asthmaline medicine,,,, and 2 or three broken sodas.  I bought the blue San Francisco Glass Works soda from him last yr,…. almost 20 yrs to the day we dug it.

Ken was very direct. He either liked you or he didn’t.  There wasn’t too much wiggle room there.  He grew up in the Mission District of San Francisco, which has always been known as one of the tougher neighborhoods in the City.  He was large and intimidating to those who didn’t know him, which served us well when we were digging in the hoods of the Bay Area, especially when behind large Section 8 apt complexes.   When you got to know him well, you’d see that he was really a funny guy who liked to joke around a lot, as long as the joke wasn’t on him.  I found that out, the hard way, on more than one occasion. His wife once told me not to let Ken get to me, that he’s just a big Teddy Bear.  Well, she was right.  Stubborn as he was,  I was still lucky to be his friend. We had many fun wknds of digging and BS-ing.   He also could be very generous.  I saw him on several occasions, give money to homeless when we were digging.  Other times, if we dug a good bottle in someone’s backyard, he would come back with a present for them, usually liquor , cigs, or cash.   One day after we dug all day on a tough tunnel-pit, and a blue Bay City soda was our best find, he decided when we got back to my house that he wanted to give it to my 4 yr old son.  Well, my son has been a soda collector ever since that day.

Ken was larger than life in the bottle world. Selling at the shows for 45 yrs.   He was out almost every wknd for over 45 yrs “wearing –out the wheels on his truck” patrolling and digging his areas in the City and Oakland.  He knew every house, and the ones he thought were good and hadn’t dug yet, he bided his time until the right opportunity, to give them ‘his spiel”.   As others have stated already, he is definitely in the Bottle Diggers’ Hall of Fame, and was one of the pillars of Western Bottle collecting. A lot of the good bottles out there would not be in Western collections if Ken hadn’t pulled them out of the ground !    An accomplished digger, a true character, and good friend.

  Ken’s son Joe, told me that per Ken’s request there will not be a funeral, and maybe sometime a little bit down the road they might have a “get together”.





Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Good Old Days

Hey Rick. 
I just found some of my old bottle magazines and decided to read through a few. Apparently a Cassin's was dug and was submitted for some information. While damaged, the appraisal was $85-$125 for your "typical" Cassin's. I would have loved to find a mint example back then for that :)
Thought you might want to post this. I am not at my computer at the moment. 
Take care
More than one Cassin's has been recovered from the Yuba City Marysville area. Wonder if anyone recognizes this bottle and if it went into a western collection or a dumpster  - rs -

Friday, February 19, 2016

Oakland GlassWorks-OGW Revisited

 Here is a nasty crude quart size ammonia. These have become a collecting category in themselves and a beautiful collection can be assembled representing virtually every western glass color in existence. I have collected the early western blown ammonia's for many years, and on rare occasion, have been fortunate to find one with the base embossing "OGW". This stands for the Oakland Glass Works. This glass works was an extremely short lived business which was located on the corner of Linden and First Streets in Oakland. It appears that anyone attempting to establish a glass factory in California really seemed to have a curse on them. The glass works were either destroyed by fire, or could not seem to figure out how to manufacture a quality product ( Baker and Cutting). Since even the ancient Roman's were able to blow glass vessels centuries before ( these artifacts can still be purchased for the price of  a tooled top fifth), and glass factories in the East, and Mid-West were cranking out quality glass a hundred years prior to the short lived "OGW".
I believe that the Oakland Glass Works were only in the biz for about 6 months, beginning in September 1884, and the proverbial fire in June 1885 marked the beginning of the end for this company.
  The bottles themselves are very attractive and exhibit characteristics which appear to be early 1870s in many cases. Apparently they were just not in to the latest glass blowing technology, or were not the most skilled. The glass character and crudity make it difficult to believe that  these bottles were mid 80s, although of course they are. This company's bottles left behind for collectors are in the form of demijohns, flasks, squares, medicines, and of course a few ammonia's. The applied top ammonia's are very rare in my experience, and the tooled top examples are also very tough to find.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

More Sad News

The Western Bottle Community lost another important member in Janet Bond. Janet enjoyed collecting antiques. Her favorites were antique bottles and glass insulators. She belonged to the  Golden Gate Bottle Club, Forty Niner Bottle Club and the National Insulator Association. Janet was a knowledgeable collector and always ready for a treasure hunt and attended most of the western bottle and insulator shows.
She will be missed by the western bottle community.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Ken Salazar Passes

From John O'Neill


Attached is a painting I recently acquired entitled forest burial. It just seems appropriate in memory of my long time friend Ken Salazar who passed away Tuesday after an extended medical condition. He is survived by his sons Stephen and Joe Salazar. All of us who knew Ken realized he was among the early San Francisco diggers who dug more than his share of really good bottles over the years.

 I heard all his stories about the time he dug the Old Woodburn in Vallejo, the Cassins Bitters in Oakland or the roadhouse privy on 10th and Mission that had two pickup truck beds full of bottles. I still have the Jacob Denzler quart beer he pulled out of a hole they had drilled for foundation pilings. His luck was phenomenal. He had an uncanny memory of every property and outhouse he dug. John Shroyer and I would drive around with him for hours and he could point out every house he dug and tell you what came out of the pit. He dug with many good friends over the years including Mel Hughes, Louie Pellegrini, Jeff Rosen, Tom Quinn, Judy Miyasaki, Billy Kiebala, Bill Woodcock and all of the Sierra Brothers and I was lucky enough to dig a number of privies with him as well.

 He had a nose and an intuition on locating privies second to none. I saw him in action many times probing a lot when five or six other people were competing for the hole. He would tell me dig here and he was seldom wrong. I am sure we all have Ken stories and over the years I will be the first to admit he wasn't always the easiest guy to get a long with, but when you were his friend you were his friend period.

His last eight months were spent confined to a bed and the last time I saw him was a few weeks ago and he never gave up the fight. He always wanted to talk bottles and get out of bed to dig or hunt down old collections. I will take my memories of Ken with me and I am sure most of us will miss the character he was, who else could tell prospective buyers of his bottles that his was more expensive than other similar bottles because he had to charge by the number of feet he had to dig to retrieve them. Rest in piece and I am glad to have called you my friend.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Whiskey or Candy

I see them on a lot of sale tables at the bottle shows and I have always wondered if these revolver shaped bottles originally held whiskey or candy.

Has anyone ever seen one with an original whiskey label?