It is not often that such a great assembly of rare bitters and whiskey bottles end up in the same room. A collector needs to spend decades putting together a top-shelf collection. Bob Ferraro did just that, putting together a grouping of great bottles, many of which are rarely available for sale.
Glassworks Auctions recently sold the Ferraro collection in a three-part auction, the final section closing on January 9th. A total of 141 lots racked up a total of $482,305 not including the auction house buyer’s premium.
Bitters bottles comprised the top three lots.
- Part 1 – Lot 4: A Crow’s Celebrated Tonic Bitters, thought to be the only known example – $20,000
- Part 2 – Lot 82: Saphire blue W. Wolf Pittsburg barrel. One of two known examples. – $20,000
- Part 3 – Lot 114: People’s Favorite Bitters barrel with diagonal rings. This example, with a great provenance, is thought to be the best of the 3 or 4 known. It closed at $30,000
One could go on endlessly about the quality of many lots in this sale. A stunning brilliant yellow olive figural Fish Bitters with Carlyn Ring provenance swam away at $5000. An authentic, original E.G. Booz cabin whiskey bottle brought a very strong $4750.
There were several dozen barrel bitters in total, many in rare and unusual colors. Lot 50, a Bourbon Whiskey Bitters described as a light pinkish topaz closed at $4250. A Roback’s Stomach Bitters in a highly unusual and rare olive green coloration undoubtedly say strong bidding, ending at $13,000. However, perhaps the barrel highlight of the sale was the Highland Bitters and Scotch Tonic of lot 107. In a rare and unusual deep but translucent olive green, this barrel rolled up to a $13,000 closing price. The 13,000 dollar mark could represent a record or near-record price for a barrel bitters.
Lot 114, the Peoples Favorite Bitters, is an extremely rare barrel mold with diagonal ribs on the body reminiscent of the George Eagle soda bottle. It is an ex. Carlyn Ring bottle and its provenance helped drive it up to a closing price of $30,000
Prices Realized Lists
We captured the Ferraro prices realized lists from all three parts of the sale after bidding and callbacks had ended, and have posted these here on the site in PDF format. Note that the prices do not reflect the 15-18% buyer’s premium.
Applied seal 19th century American bottles are not all that common. Add a label and a ground stopper to the list of features and one comes up with a very short list of possibilities.
Recently closed on ebay was an auction for a 12-1/2″ tall blue-green demijohn bottle bearing an applied seal marked “THOS. H. JACOBS & CO.” The bottle also retained what appears to be its original label, black print on a red background from the same company. Collectors are no doubt grateful to Mr. Jacobs for including the date 1844 on that label, allowing us to accurately date the bottle. Adding even greater amazement to the bottle is the intact ground stopper.
The seller described the bottle as having a body of 5 inches in diameter. One photo shows a large pontil scar on the base, consistent with glass blowing techniques used in the age displayed on the label.
The bottle sold for $2425.
Also at auction this week at Glassworks Auctions is a nearly identical Jacobs bottle except it is in aqua. Same ground stopper. Same pontil scarred base. The catalog describes the seal as “THOMAS JACOBS & CO.” (without the middle H). It is hard to see the exact seal marking on the single photo posted on the auction but it seems the middle initial H. may be present in the picture. The embossing on the seal may in fact be the same but is mis-cataloged. Glassworks describes the height as 11-1/2″. Once again we see a similar label with similar markings. Note the different address here which is 233 Dock Street.
At the time of this writing, no bid had been placed on this lot. The opening bid is $200.
The Glassworks sale closes January 30th at 10PM Eastern Time.
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An amber coffin-shaped poison bottle, with overall patterned hobnail decoration, recently fetched $6766.00 on ebay. Apparently the seller, who had listed a large number of bottles for auction, was unaware of its value. As is often the case, just three individuals carried the bidding over $1000.
View the auction results here
UPDATE: This is a new auction record for an (empty) antique bottle. The closing price was $133,000 and with the 15 percent buyer premium was $152,950
Bottle collectors are keeping a close eye this week on the current Glass Works Auction sale. The bidding on lot 169 has exceeded $100,000 and could double that amount.
The battle is on for a perfect example of a Columbia / Eagle flask from Kensington Glassworks in Pennsylvania. It is one of three known examples in cobalt blue.
Here is a direct link to the auction lot:
Up for auction at Skinner Auctions on March 1st is a bottle which, in form, is well known to bottle collectors. It is a black glass ale bottle of about 9 inches in height dating from the late 18th century or thereabouts. Nothing too unusual – you can buy one without a whole lot of difficulty for $100-150.
Then there is Lot 5 in the Skinner sale.
Thanks to more than a little bit of provenance and connection to our first president, Skinner has placed a pre-sale estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. I am sure many collectors will be interested to see where the bidding ends.
Affixed to the bottle is a label bearing the text,
Washington Wine Imported in 1792 Rebottled in 1840
View the lot directly at the Skinner website.
This month’s Glass Works auction of antique bottles and related antiques features 661 lots with a wide variety of quality bottles, flasks, stoneware and other items.
Lots 17 through 33 are all of the same German manufacturer, Hartwig Kantorowicz. There are a total of 15 lots with 21 different bottles represented.
Bottle collectors will first think of the many milk glass examples, especially those with a square tapered body. Many are considered to be bitters bottles. However, on examining the labels in this group, one will see not only bitters represented but also Kummel and other alcoholic drink. Indeed, two of the bottles bear a strong resemblance to the well known Dutch Gilka bottles which contained Kummel.
This Glass Works auction closes January 19, 2015.
Bidding online can be found at http://www.absenteeauctions.com/glassworks_3/cgi-bin/CATALL.CGI
Recently, an ebay transaction of a violin, which sold for about $2500, ended with PayPal ordering the buyer to destroy the violin. PayPal refunded the purchase price to the buyer.
Could this happen with an antique bottle?
I would like to think this was an isolated incident.
See more at:
I still had not gotten over the breathtaking BLUE pickle bottle that turned up on ebay
recently (item #230778721478) and I thought that could not be topped. But wait! Someone in Florida lists their multi-decade collection of cathedral pickle bottles and the bidding rightly took off to 15 grand. There is simply an amazing lineup of strong colors and a few extra-tough-to-find examples. You will notice there is a bit of damage on some pieces but that is to be expected when you assemble 61 bottles of this caliber.
Back to that blue cathedral pickle that turned up on ebay – it brought a well-fermented price of $16,200. Remember, this is a smooth base bottle – no pontil. It is no record, falling quite a bit short of the ~50 grand paid for an amber Willington pickle about 10 years ago.
ABCR Auctions has a big spring offering of bottles which closes on April 28th.
Auction 8 contains 445 lots with a few items of interest to US collectors, some of which are:
Lots 218 to 220: Three fine pickle bottles from the mid 1800s, these highly elaborate pieces are part of a small collection of “goldfields” bottles that have been consigned to us, including some great cobalt pieces, some vinegars and salad oils.
Lot 349: Amber glass Australian made target ball. This target ball with cross hatched design is very rare. It is an Australian found target ball, possibly made by the Melbourne Glassworks, although unmarked.
Lots 368 to 369: A pair of superb and rare Bears Grease pot lids, one of which depicts a Cupid! We also have a range of other pot lids, including the colourful Williams Swiss Violet Shaving Cream from the US.
Lot 384: Fully labelled milk glass Hartwig bitters from Kantorowicz, the bottle itself is common, but with the near complete original label in place, this is a stunning piece.
Lot 385: John Moffat Phoenix Bitters with open pontil. Lovely early piece from New York, these are quite nice with the open pontil.
Lot 386: Cobalt barrel bitters! Unmarked except for the embossed hoops, this early piece is shaped very similarly to the embossed American bitters. It has a different lip formation, and a ground glass stopper. We are guessing that it contained bitters, it may have contained any number of liquids. Importantly, however, it is a beautiful piece of glass which is very rare.
Lot 387: St Drakes Hop Bitters in amber, the four log variation. Not rare, but this is in superb condition.
Lot 442: Stunning little English mallet from the 1700s. This is a very small piece, a wonderful piece of history.
Lot 445: Another English mallet, more the standard size here, but in great condition, complete with a seal bearing the initials TB.
Of course, there are many more lots in the online auction, to view the catalogue, please go to http://www.rtam.com/abcr/cgi-bin/CATALL.CGI
Bidding will go live on April 18th, 8 pm Australian Eastern Standard Time and will continue until Saturday, April 28th at 8 pm Australian Eastern Standard Time.