Bottle Blog

Glassworks Summer Sizzler Auction – July 2010

Glass Works Auctions closed up their summer sale on July 17th of 389 lots. Typically, the mid year sale does not contain their best offerings – this sale was an exception with a number of top notch items in several categories.

The highlight of the sale was undoubtedly Lot 119, a clear (amethyst tint) figural BROWN’S / CELEBRATED / INDIAN HERB BITTERS brought $20,000. Thought to be one of only 3 examples, this rare bottle was recently found at a yard sale in the Seattle, Washington area. Most are familiar with the not uncommon amber “Indian Queens” but other colors are scarcely seen.

Lot 1, a F. BROWN DRUGGIST bottle in emerald green with open pontil brought $6,000 despite cracks around the pontil scar. This bottle is noted by the auctioneer as unique. The description also states that Frederick Brown ran a drug store at the corner of Chestnut and 5th Street in Philadelphia and later became famous for his F. Brown’s Essence of Jamaica Ginger. The Jamaica Ginger bottles are quite common and known to most every bottle collector.

Lot 2 was a beautiful deep emerald green DR GUYSOTT’S – COMPOUND EXTRACT / OF YELLOW DOCK – & SARSAPARILLA in perfect condition which closed at $5,000, a strong market price indicative of the overall auction results. Recession, what recession? There seems to be no decrease in antique bottle prices, except at the very low end (below $100) of the market.

National Bitters
National Bitters, Lot 152

The sale included a good number of aqua pontil medicines which fared well. Also of note was the great offering of mineral waters from the Robert ‘Bob’ White Collection. A yellow olive Hanbury Smith NY (Tucker M-20-A) mineral water brought $1900, a blue green Deep Rock Spring quart (N-13-A) formerly in Norm Heckler’s collection brought $2000 and a GARDNER & LANDON / SHARON / SULPHUR WATER in olive brought $2750. Mineral water bottles, at least the good ones, are alive and well.

The sale also included six Willington, Connecticut cathedral pickle jars, included a damaged example of the large mold in the extremely rare olive amber color. Prices ranged from $2300 for an example in greenish aqua to $3500 for the aforementioned olive amber piece to $5500 for a perfect condition large mold example in cornflower blue.

Perhaps the only bargain of the day was the sparkling perfect yellow National Bitters which closed at just $2400, well under its estimate. Overall, it was however a strong sale.

Prices quoted do not include the 15% buyers premium.

Double vision – Two McKeevers Army Bitters in 1 Week

Two rare McKeevers Army Bitters turned up on ebay this week. Both were reported to be in mint, undamaged condition. The first, which closed on July 4th, brought $3301 and was auction # 190409345590. The seller was from the Atlanta, GA area.

The second example (auction # 320557162981), offered by a seller in Cleveland, OH, didn’t fare quite as well and brought just $2500 $3250. Although the bottle seemed just as fine as the other, sellers may have been scared off by a few negative marks on the seller’s feedback record. So goes the auction world.

For all you non-collectors out there, beware of a similar bottle marked McGiver’s American Army Bitters and is also marked Wheaton, NJ. These are found in amber as well as pale blue and green. Wheaton Glass Works produced these modern re-creations in the mid to late 20th century and they are fairly common. Their value is more in the range of $5-15

Search for McKeevers or McGivers Bitters bottles on ebay.

Green GII-69 Cornucopia Eagle Flask beats $11,000

Not surprisingly, there was tons of interest in this half-pint GII-69 which appeared recently on ebay. The seller, who was from Kansas, listed a number of historical flasks, but this one was by far the best. It exceeded our estimate and may have set an auction record for this mold when it closed at $11.700, the result of 61 bids

View this auction on ebay or search for other cornucopia-eagle flasks on ebay

Click on the thumbnails below to see full size images.

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Neptune Glassworks bottle

This olive green iron pontil NEPTUNE GLASS WORKS bottle got my attention.  I checked with one longtime New Jersey collector and he had never heard of it.

The reverse panel is marked CROWLYVILLE N.J.

Medicine? Whiskey?  What do you think?

It recently brought $3,049.99 on ebay.

Rare OLIVE GREEN cathedral pickle fetches a sweet $11,100

A vintage clothing dealer on ebay created quite a stir by auctioning a most unusual cathedral pickle bottle with iron pontil mark.  The 8-3/4″ example in a very rare olive green coloration closed at $11,100 thanks to 61 bids from 23 bidders.  We contacted the seller who indicated that he recently bought the bottle as part of a house clean-out in central Connecticut.

Look at cathedral pickle bottles for sale on

We thought, when first seeing the thumbnail image online, that it was the work of Dog River Glassworks, the now defunct manufacturer of reproduction bottles.  On examination of the photos, it quickly was apparent that this was no reproduction.  We spoke with one longtime collector who commented that he had not seen one offered for sale in over 25 years.

Bols Ballerina Bottles

Bols Ballerina bottles were made in the Netherlands from 1957 through 1978. They are not exactly uncommon – they were made by the tens of thousands per year! This decanter features a dancing ballerina who dances to the tune of The Skater’s Waltz or Le Bleu Danube.

It seems like lots of people are looking for the value of these bottles since many were given as gifts and keepsakes. I recently ran a search of completed auctions on and found the following:

  • Empty bottles in good condition sell in the $5-10 range.
  • Full bottles sell in the $50 to $100 range. The price varies depending on whether they are still sealed and whether you have the original box and it is in good condition
  • Forget about damaged pieces. No one wants them

Great photos, great flask

27 bids brought this lovely cobalt Louisville Eagle flask up to $3801.  It was clear from the seller’s description that they had NO idea what they had!  Guess they were surprised that this antique bottle brought that much.

In this case, the clear photos which appear to show the color with precision really helped buyers overcome any doubts about that the seller might not be accurately describing the item (not intentionally but because they are not a collector)

We suspect this bottle would have sold for more if offered via one of the auction houses such as Heckler’s or American Glass Gallery.  It is a simple fact that buyers want the confidence that comes from buying from an auctioneer who describes the condition and the color with accuracy.

Louisville Eagle flask auction on ebay

Piedmont Ginger Ale – ACL soda @ $305

Recently, this ACL soda (that’s Applied Color Label for those new to bottle collecting) from the 1940s or 1950s brought a generous $305. When I say generous, my bias is showing: I have a hard time accepting bottles of this era as ANTIQUE. It’s not just that they do not fit the dictionary definition of antique, but perhaps just because they join most bottles of the 20th century as machine manufactured. Long live the Luddite, and praise the men who hand crafted glass in earlier days.

Back to 2010. While most ACL soda bottles will cross the $30 mark, occasionally they bring a good bit more. Of course, as always, condition is of utmost importance, and this one is all clean, sheen and pristine. But that is about it – otherwise it is fairly plain jane, so look twice before you recycle them.

Perhaps someone can fill me in on the record price for an ACL soda?

Look to the SODA FIZZ web site for more information on the ACL soda craze.

Piedmont Pale Dry Ginger Ale bottle auction

Search for ACL soda bottles on ebay

Piedmont Ginger Ale ACL soda
Piedmont Ginger Ale ACL soda
Piedmont Bottling Company, Pale Dry Ginger Ale
Piedmont Bottling Company, Pale Dry Ginger Ale

Daguerreotype with Bottle, circa 1840

When was the last time you saw a photograph of a (now) antique bottle taken in the 1840s? I can’t imagine there are many such images in existence.

Right now on ebay is a “dag” of a man holding a bottle of WARE’S LOTION. The bottle appears to be an oval aqua bottle with flared lip and a wrap-around label. You cannot tell if it is embossed or not. Surely it would be pontiled if from this time period. I made a quick check in the Greer catalog of pontiled medicines and find another bottle (Lot 1720) which is embossed WARE’S LOTION OR PAIN EXTRACTOR. The bottle is rectangular and has a tapered lip and is 6-1/2″ tall. It’s listed in the catalog as extremely rare. It brought $170 in the auction in 1989.

It’s an incredibly cool historical piece for the antique bottle collector. I’m tempted to bid on it myself. We’ll see.

With 3 days to go in the auction, the bidding is currently at $320 and the auction has not yet made reserve.

View this Daguerreotype auction

Man with Ware's Lotion, circa 1840
Man with Ware's Lotion, circa 1840
Close up view of Ware's Lotion bottle
Close up view of Ware's Lotion bottle
Full view of Ware daguerreotypes
Full view of Ware daguerreotypes


Rare green EHVB pickle jar

Hard to imagine someone dug this great bottle up – talk about lucky. As the ebay listing says, it was found in 2009 in Champaign, Illinois

From the book, Ketchup, Pickles, Sauces by Betty Zumwalt (p. 411):
E.H.V.B. stands for Elias H. Van Benschoten. He operated a dry goods store in New York at 68 Spring Street about 1842. He changed his line and began the Pickle manufacture in 1849 at 252 Front Street. After 1854 there is no mention of him. The bottle comes in two sizes and is extremely rare.

Most are indeed aqua – this green color would be easily called a rare bird.

You can buy it now on ebay for $5199 $4149 $3549.

EHVB NY cathedral pickle jar with pontil