Monday, March 30, 2020

Urgent Notice Regarding Canyonville 2020!

Urgent Notice



Dear Fellow Collectors and Dealers;

Oregon is behind the nationwide curve of the spread of COVID 19 pandemic. Current projections are that Oregon will get hit, and hit hard, well into late spring or early summer.

Seven Feathers Casino Resort is now closed. A reopening date has not been announced.

Out of concern for the well being of our fellow collectors and dealers, it is with great regret that I must notify you that the 2020 JSABC Show and Sale, scheduled to be held at Seven Feathers in Canyonville, Oregon on June 6th, has been cancelled.

With that said, please accept my sincere apologies. Refunds to all dealers that have pre-paid are being mailed today.  

Best of luck to all. Please stay safe and healthy.



Bruce Silva

Show Chairman

Urgent Notice


Urgent Notice


Monday, March 16, 2020

Urgent Notice from Gary Antone, re the Golden Gate Show - Followup


Howdy Bruce,
In conversation with the Contra Costa Event Park ( Antioch ) today, the GGHBS club's show has been canceled until next year. Can you post this information on your website ? The club and I would appreciate it. Not good, but it's understandable. Also FYI, Morro Bay show has been canceled also.

Take Care & Thanks My Friend,



Hello GGHBS Club Members

I hope this note finds you all doing well – keeping safe and sane during this crazy and uncertain time we are in due to the Coronavirus.
Unfortunately, I need to advise that our 2020 GGHBS Show on 4/10 and 11 has been cancelled.   

Decision made based on:
  • The fairgrounds reached out yesterday and advised they are prohibited from having events until at least 4/5 and it could be extended
  • The government issued self-quarantine until at least 4/7, and who knows what will happen between now and then
  • People need to make plans, and not realistic to do if we don’t know what will happen until the day or 2 prior
  • Even if all the restrictions were lifted in time for the event - the club would lose $ that we cannot afford to do. We could not make up for it in time.    
    • Lost table sales, early birds, raffle and food
As hard as it is, its best just to make the decision now, cut our losses, ensure everyone is healthy and just look forward to next year

Next steps:
  • I have initiated contact with the online sites that promote our show and advised of the cancellation.  You will start to see those shortly (along with Morro Bay that was also cancelled)
  • We are working with the fairgrounds to see what happens with our $1000 deposit. 
    • The additional funds for the event were due this week and we had not paid yet, so no worries on that part.

Let me know if any issues or questions.
Take care of yourselves, stay safe, and will look forward to seeing everyone soon.

Gary PFL

Sunday, March 15, 2020


There is no shortage of bottles that refuse to offer up their lineage in the historical record. One example is the blob top soda water bottle simply embossed GOLDEN GATE. Found on the west coast it surely has its roots in that region, even though it has all the characteristics of being manufactured on the east coast. Beginning some thirty-five years ago, Peck Markota and I would periodically discuss the possible pedigree of this bottle based on research uncovered at that time. Admittedly, very little has changed since then.

The seed for this article was planted when Peck shared with me an article he had found in an old newspaper that described the attributes of the floating palace that regularly plied the route between San Francisco and Panama, bringing gold seekers, their families, and other adventurers to California during the gold rush. The glowing description of the Steamship Golden Gate included a mention of a soda water machine installed on board. Not enough information to conclude that soda water was actually bottled there but certainly something that warranted further investigation. Peck was not convinced, nor was I, and his death left the search to me, which I have been aware of all these years. I had originally possessed a copy of that news article but it has apparently been lost in a sea of paper related to bottles and bottle research that resides in my office. Even with the new onset of digital newspaper research, it has not yet surfaced on-line.

A recent article authored by well known western bottle collector, Max Bell, offered a potential origin of the Golden Gate soda bottle based on his experience and research. (See the March 2020 ‘49er Historical Bottle Assoc. newsletter for his interesting article.) He reported that as many as fifty broken and whole specimens have been excavated in the gold rush town of Yankee Jim’s, in Placer County, California, and may have been associated with a saloon there called the Golden Gate. While there is no documentation of a soda works in the town, this may be a case of a concerted effort to collect and re-use the bottles in association with the saloon.
There is no dispute that the name was initially attached to the strait that connects the San Francisco Bay with the Pacific Ocean as early as 1846 by the famous "pathfinder", John C. Fremont, two years before the famed discovery of gold in California. ( see Daily Alta California [San Francisco, Calif.] September 8, 1850, for a description of the term as used in California) Fremont posited that the strait located near the little village of Yerba Buena, soon to become San Francisco, was a "golden gate to trade with the Orient". The term stuck and by 1849, one newspaper reporter noted:
" Company organizations, composed of the flower of each state's population are daily pouring through this golden gate of California, and we have already as large a share of intelligence and capability, truly American, as many of the states of the Atlantic side". (Weekly Alta California [San Francisco, Calif.] November 1, 1849)
Later, the term was used to define any number of physical places in the west, from saloons to markets to bridges. It would have been so easy to have established a soda works with that name in any town in California, but  no such documented evidence has surfaced. Certainly, the origin of the bottle could be any of the breweries and saloons that populated central California with that name, but nothing has turned up in all these years that could help in determining the bottle's true owner.

The only shred of evidence is what Peck uncovered related to a rather famous steamer that plied the west coast from San Francisco to Panama and back for nearly a decade. The information was so tenuous that Peck preferred not to publicly speculate on the idea that the S.S. Golden Gate could actually be the origin of the soda bottles that carried the same name. We discussed the issue at length with the hope that a little more evidence would spring forth in the hope that, at the least, even a weak case could be made for the steamer being the origin of the bottles. With Peck's passing I have continued to pursue this avenue but with no conclusive clues being unearthed, except for one more that may provide some circumstantial evidence.

The Steam Ship Golden Gate is one of the most documented vessels to have serviced our west coast. (not to be confused with the clipper ship Golden Gate) Built in 1851 for the Pacific Mail Steamship Company in New York, she was considered the finest ship of her kind when built. She was a double engined side-wheel steamer once described as a "floating palace". The 270 foot wooden hull could accommodate 800 passengers. It was literally a floating city.

The ‘floating palace’ was fitted with any number of amenities to entice gold seekers to book a ticket from Panama to San Francisco. It was upgraded several times in order to maintain its luxury status. If the on-board soda water machinery was part of its initial construction or added later is not known.

Tickets were not cheap. In 1854 a one way ticket from Panama to San Francisco was about $200 for upper deck staterooms and decreased to $45 for a steerage bed. She continued this route until July 27, 1862, when she traveled from San Francisco to Panama and burned at sea where the captain immediately turned her shore-ward and beached in rough surf north of Manzanillo, Mexico. There are many eye-witness accounts on the Internet of the horrors that unfolded on that tragic day. When the burned out hulk met the shallow surf she was broken apart and strewn along the beach, along with the passengers, in all manner of physical condition. Of the 338 passengers and crew aboard, as many as 223 souls lost their lives. (Refer to:, for perhaps the best compilation of knowledge on the sinking of the S.S. Golden Gate)

Part of the scenario that caused such a tragic loss of life on the Golden Gate was the wind. Initially many of the crew and passengers ran for the bow of the ship since the wind driven flames were blowing aft. The ship then turned around causing the flames to blow toward the bow, thus stranding many with no option but to jump overboard or be burned to death. Unfortunately many suffered debilitating heat exposure before they jumped, causing them to be in a weakened state before swimming the quarter mile to dry land.

Aside from the great loss of life at the time of her destruction, the ship was most famous for the treasure she carried during that fateful trip.  As well as considerable specie, she was transporting $1.4 million in gold bullion. Today's value of just the bullion would be closer to $51.5 million. Over the next few years considerable effort was expended in recovering the gold with most of it found, however, no one is sure how much may still lay on or under the sea floor.

The survivors were stranded on a beach with no food, water or shelter. One account notes that, "A group of men was sent to scour the debris scattered along the beach and to retrieve any items that they thought would be useful. Among the most valuable finds were crates of unopened soda bottles that were packed in sawdust and must have floated up from the hold." (Legend of the Golden Gate. Roman Rivera Torres. 2003, pg. 140) A natural question would be; why would the Golden Gate be carrying soda water in bottles from San Francisco toward Panama? Since there were no glass works in California at that date soda bottles would need to be shipped to California, not from it. And full bottles make even less sense. Unless, of course, they were to be used by the passengers, which would be especially in high demand on the return trip from Panama.

It has been a subject of confusion that there has been no locus for where the Golden Gate soda bottles have been found. While numerous western population centers are the most common locations they are also found in less densely populated areas as well. Could it be that the bottles were taken from the steamer by travelers as a memento of the trip to California and eventually discarded throughout the West, wherever the new immigrants may have settled? This seems very plausible and could explain a lack of concentration around a land-based use point. The Golden Gate bottles have been found as far north as Portland, Oregon, and to the south in San Diego, California.

With an idea that the Golden Gate bottles may still be associated with the wreck of the steamer, I contacted Terry Scovil who is a recreational diver and part owner of Aquatic Sports and Adventures in Manzanillo, Mexico. (Terry Scovil, Aquatic Sports and Adventures, Santiago, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico.) He is familiar with the wreck as well as many of the diving community in that part of Mexico. Terry made contact through his communication network and social media to determine if the Golden Gate bottles have been found in the vicinity of the wreck site. It was, of course, a long shot, but worth a try. No one responded positively to his query.

Of course, this conjecture could easily spill over to yet another soda water type bottle, simply embossed EL DORADO, yet another bottle carrying the same name as a ship, and with no known land based proprietor.

Two distinct molds were used for the manufacture of the Golden Gate soda water bottles.  Of greatest interest are the bottles from the earliest mold, which appear to have all been blown with the use of a bare iron punty rod. What are likely the earliest specimens appear to be produced with a clean and readable embossing.

 Later specimens begin to show a more degraded embossing as the mold began to ‘wear out’.  Could this be because the mold was stored aboard the ship and exposed to the salt-water environment that would be expected in the hold? We simply don’t know but it is possible.

What is assumed to be the later mold has slightly different embossing and all the bottles examined have well formed words with no degradation. These specimens all have a basal hyphen between the two words.  Since the Golden Gate sank in 1862 the later mold may not have been used long enough to show any signs of pitting. This variant has no pontil.

Further comments on this subject are always invited.

The loss of the S.S. Golden Gate had such an impact on the people of California that a song was even prepared about the tragedy

Monday, March 9, 2020