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WORMSER BROS' / (indented "bung hole") / SAN FRANCISCO - Here is another example (I sold one some years ago) one of the classic Western (made) bottles - the famous Wormser barrel!  This is the only true Western barrel bitters (or maybe used for liquor also?) bottle (the Turner Brothers barrels are really Eastern items). 

These used to be virtually unobtainable and rarely seen, though due to a couple small caches of them being found some years back (Nevada & Oregon reportedly) there are a few around now...including this excellent example.  (If you are looking for one of these you likely know the stories better than I.) These bottles date from only 1869 according to Wichmann's great "Antique Western Bitters Bottles" book (and the Wilson's 1969 classic) who listed them as valued at "$3000 to $7000" in the various shades of amber (the unique light citron green example was unknown at that time).  Since there were a few more of them around, economics dictated a falling of prices - which happened for a time.  Examples are more rarely seen at auctions today.  A similar colored example - though not as brilliant as my offering here - recently sold on eBay for over $2600! Another similar one at American Bottle Auctions (ABA) went for $2500+ with commission though the supply is still very small and prices have been ticking up again.  I recently acquired one that I know came from a particular Nevada mining camp, so I'm selling this example even though it is superior in condition and color.  (This offering is actually an ex-ABA auction item from some years ago.)

Anyway, this offered example is 9.5" tall, has an applied, one-part "oil" type lip or finish, smooth shallowly domed base, and is in a very nice yellow color with an amber tone.  Call it light yellow amber if you will; a tad lighter than the average example but not quite as light as the lighter example pictured in Wichmann's book.  The images show the color accurately to my eye.  This example is perfectly mint with no chips, cracks, pings, dings or flea-bites.  It has been professionally cleaned I believe (like most of them) but without any diminishment of the glass surface or beauty; looks like it was never buried.  It has some bubbles in the glass and a vague touch of whittle making it a beautiful example of a classic bottle that every Western bottle collector should have.  $2250


DR. HENLEY'S / WILD GRAPE ROOT / IXL (in an oval) / BITTERS - These large (at least a quart in capacity) Western bitters bottles are quite popular with collectors since they are...large...have great embossing and found in a myriad of colors, though any color besides shades of aqua are very expensive.  A very popular product, these bottles are found all over the West from the mining camps of Utah, Nevada, and Montana to the big cities of the day - San Francisco, Portland, Sacramento.  In my experience visiting scores of the mining camps and ghost towns of the West, it is the rare location where one does NOT find fragments of an IXL - it was that popular. 

This example is just over 12" tall, a relatively rich "San Francisco & Pacific Glass Works" blue-aqua color (where it was made), the usual domed base, and an appropriately crude applied "champagne" style banded finish (click neck and lip image to see such).  This example probably dates from the late 1870s to early 1880s since it fairly crude (stretch marks, bubbles), not air vented, and from a mold that lacks the distinctive curved "R" of the earlier mold(s).  FYI...here is a copy of the original labeling that these bottles had: Henley's IXL Bitters label

This offering is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, dings or repairs - only some light scattered haze inside and some minor scratching, scuffing/wear mostly on the back of the bottle.  It has lots of small seed bubble throughout as well as some decent whittle.  A nice example with a nice deep aqua coloration.  $250


PIPIFAX - This is embossed large and bold on one side of this hard to find Western "bitters" bottle; the other 3 panels are unembossed.  These are somewhat of a mystery bottle but are reportedly only found in the West.  There were a series of distributors in San Francisco according to the two Western bitters bottles books by Bill & Betty Wilson (Wilson & Wilson 1969) and Jeff Wichmann (1999).  According to their research, the product was actually made in Germany and franchised to dealers in the US, being shipped in barrels with the labels supplied by the manufacturer for placing on the bottles.  

It was first distributed in SF by Walter & Schaeffer in 187o with the franchise sold to the James M. Gowey Wholesale Liquor Company in 1873.  In 1876, John Sroufe and Hugh McCrum bought out Gowey and (to quote the Wilson's), "...the first embossed bottles were ordered for the Pipifax brand.  By 1885 the mold wore out and they selected a smaller bottle (like Hostetter's) and it was paper labeled thereafter."  The product was advertized as "The Famous Rosicrucian Elixir" according to the label used by Goewey.  (Note: The label image in the Wilson's book shows the name spelled as Goewey, not the Gowey noted in the text of both books).  It was a "Magenbitter" according to the several labels pictured in the two books which was apparently German for bitters?

In any event, these bottles are fairly rare according to Wichmann and I've seen one now and then through the years indicating some level of scarceness.  This example is about 9.4" tall, about 2.7" wide on each side, and has a somewhat crudely applied "brandy" finish or lip.  The color is pretty well shown in the images - a light to medium yellowish amber.  As the full bottle image shows, it has quite a bit of wavy body crudeness (mold was not air vented) along with dimples in the glass, twist marks on the neck and some scattered bubbles.  The condition is good with no chips, cracks or dings of any kind.  It does have a nice glossy outside surface (as images show) with just a few minor scuffs and very small spots of staining.  The inside has an overall though fairly uniform moderate content haze which could easily be cleaned but isn't too distracting.  Nice example at a decent price.  $150


S. T. / DRAKES / 1860 / PLANTATION / X / BITTERS - This mold variation of the ubiquitous Drake's Bitters has the usual PATENTED / 1862 embossed totally on one (the center)  roof panel on the reverse.  This example is just over 9.75" tall, applied "oil" type finish or lip (aka "long tapered collar), smooth slightly domed base (no embossing), and dates from the heyday of the 6-log Plantations - 1865 to the late 1870s.  The glass is a very pleasing medium golden amber.  It is essentially mint with no chips, cracks, or other post-production damage...looks to have never been buried given the base wear.  It has no real staining except a small faint splotch on the front label panel which may have been induced by the original labeling?  There is some original contents dried up in the base so I don't think it is a dug bottle.  This is a comparatively "neatly" made Drake's though has some body crudeness and bubbles.  The embossing is about average with some minor weakness at the top (S.T.) and more distinct as one moves down to the X and BITTERS.  See the close-up image enlargement.  Still a solid, beautiful, and essentially mint example.  $145


HARTWIG KANTOROWIGZ  (arched) / POSEN / HAM: / BURG / GERM: / MANY - All the preceding is embossed on the front of this "case" type bottle that originally held "Litthauer Stomach Bitters." (Bottle to the far left.) Although German made, the product was widely imported into the U. S. and the bottles pretty commonly found throughout North America.  The embossing details vary a lot on the different mold variations; this and all of these variations are cataloged in Ring & Ham as L106L - for labeled bitters. (There are also examples that are embossed with LITTHAUER STOMACH BITTERS.)  The style emulated the "case gins" of the era (mid to late 19th century...into the very early 20th) but are of a heavy, thick glass...and of course, usually (though not always) made of milk glass. 

This example is 9+" tall, has an applied one-part "flaring at the base" lip (typical but distinct style) and a sharply a domed center to the base.  The condition is essentially mint with no chips, cracks or other post-production damage though it could have some light scuff marks or scratches which are about impossible to see on this type milk glass.  A nice example of a cool bottle that every collector should have in their collection.  $65


HARTWIG KANTOROWIGZ (arched) / POSEN / GERMANY - That is embossed on the front side of this small - sample version - of the larger bottle; no embossing on the reverse.  It also originally held a small quantity of "Litthauer Stomach Bitters."  These are actually pretty rare though when I was a teenager I found one of these digging in the older sections of Portland, Oregon.  That one is long gone, but here is one I acquired later as a replacement...but decided to sell it instead since I had already listed its big brother above.  For those keeping score, this is more or less listed in Ring & Ham as L107L, although I guess it isn't really listed as the one they have has slightly different embossing - no GERMANY but does have POSEN and PARIS - though it is the same size as L107L.  (It is also not listed in their Supplement book.)

This bottle is about 3.75" tall and probably only holds an ounce or ounce and a half - like an "airline" liquor bottle today.  It has a tooled sloping collar with the body almost square (slightly rectangular) with a tapering body downwards from the shoulder to the base.  As with the full sized examples, the base also has a round indentation in the middle.  It likely dates from around 1900 give or take.  This example is essentially mint with no condition issues (no chips or cracks) except a bit of dullness to the outside surface though that is hard to tell since it is all white anyway.  Nice example for the collector of milk glass, or sample bitters, or miniature bottles.  $95

...or get both the Hartwig Kantorowigz bottles above for $150.


THE GREAT TONIC / CALDWELL'S / HERB BITTERS - It is well known among bottle collectors that the category of "Bitters" bottles has some of the most interesting and unusual bottle shapes used in order to attract the eye of potential purchasers.  This is one of them - the three sided, 11.75" tall Caldwell's Herb Bitters.  Off the top of my head the only other bitters bottle that approximates this unique shape was the Morning Star Bitters which were also three sided, amber glass and often iron pontiled.

There are two variations of the bottle noted in Ring & Ham's most recent bitters books - one is this example cataloged as C8 which has an iron pontil scar, a long tapered (one part) finish or lip and was manufactured by the L.A. Marshall & Co. of Goshen, Indiana.  The other (C9) is almost identical but is not pontiled, has a long tapered collar with a ring below (two-part finish), embossed with DR. CALDWELL'S instead of just CALDWELL'S, a subtle difference in the lattice work on that side (24 squares instead of 16 for the C8) and, according to the label was used by the Dr. Caldwell's Herb Bitters Manufactured By Lawrence & Co., 204 N. Second Street, Harrisburg, PA.  Strange, eh?  Whether related or not is unknown as it could be that the later (C9) bottled product rights were purchased by the Lawrence & Co. since those bottles are reportedly not pontiled.

This offered C8 example is 12.5" tall, a lightish to medium bright amber glass, a very distinct gray improved or iron pontil scar and the applied one-part taper collar or finish.  These likely date around the Civil War period given the iron pontil scar.  Click base view to see the pontil mark.  Click image of the applied finish/lip to see such.  Condition of the bottle is excellent - near mint condition with no staining, cracks, flashes or potstones but does have nice sparkling glass as the images show.  It appears to never have been buried since there is enough wear on the base to indicate that it was sitting somewhere upright (not laying down) for 150 years and an almost total absence of body scratching which would occur with tossed and dug bottles. 

Added evidence of not being buried is the presence of light but spotty (and relatively non-distracting) wear on the outside of the lip/finish indicating that it was used for some household reason that entailed a different type of closure which caused a bit of wear?  Or maybe the cork was covered with a lead capsule (like fine champagne was/still is but not lead now) and that caused a bit of wear?  There is, however, no evidence of wear to the extreme upper neck that can happen with such closures.  Some of the wear on the finish exterior (there is none inside the bore) shows in the previous linked image.  Otherwise, the only flaw to point out is a tiny nick on the underside of the lip which looks to have been an in-making tooling flaw since it is right where the applied finishing glass slopped down the neck a bit and part of the unevenness of the lower finish edge.  Again, see the finish image above.

The noted issues are minor as the bottle is otherwise in excellent condition with an intact gray iron pontil scar and sparkling glass.  These seem to be selling in the $450-500+ range of recent on eBay in similar condition so it should be priced right at....$395




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