The Radium Radia company was a short lived patent medicine business founded in the early years of the 20th century. Little did they know that the Pure Food and Drug Act was coming in 1906, and it would mark the end of an era for most medicine merchants.
The bottle on its own is a plain jane clear bottle with a little embossing, and one that you would give little notice. However, the wise marketers at this company chose to add some super graphics. It is undoubtedly one of the most visually appealing labels that you will see.
Apparently, a collector in Texas recently sold a couple of these bottles and a friend alerted me to the second auction. Most collectors of antique bottles don’t think of labeled clear bottles as bringing high prices and they would be right. However, in this auction, the closing price was $901. It’s not a record price by a long margin but considering that this is a 20th century bottle, it ranks in overall auction results.
I have spoken with someone who confirms that the bottle did not actually contain radioactive matter. They have, like the ebay seller, tested it with a Geiger counter.
I was recently talking to a friend who has used ebay for over 10 years but had no idea how to look at completed auction results. This was a big surprise to me since I thought everyone used this feature. Perhaps some of you are unaware of it.
Yes, there are millions of active listings out there, but many close without a sale so they are not a good barometer of what your antique bottle is worth. Instead, look at completed auctions that have actually received a bid. This gives you an idea of what people are actually paying.
Remember that a single auction does not “make” the value of any item. Some auctions close high, others low. By piecing together the details of a group of auction results for similar old bottles, you can get a sense for your bottle’s market value. Remember also that condition and quality pay a big role in the value of bottles. If the process leaves doubts in your mind, get an appraisal from an experienced collector/dealer.
Here is how to research antique bottles values on ebay:
1. First, you need an ebay account. Ebay requires this to browse their completed auction results. There is no way around it, so sign up for an account now.
2. Perform your search as you normally would:
3. Now scroll down on the page looking at the left column. Tick off the checkbox option for “Completed listings”
The checkbox will stay selected as you continue to search.
Get started now.
Many bottle collectors get started with bottles such as the lovely cobalt blue Bromo Seltzer. Who doesn’t like cobalt blue?
Yes, they are common but there are hard to beat for beautiful blue glowing in your window. Get a plain cobalt one for just a few dollars. There are teal blue and Prussian blue colors around but they are more scarce. You will need to pay more for them. Occasionally, you will see a very pale blue example that borders on a blue aqua color.
This set of 3 Bromo Seltzers shows the different colors. See them at ebay.com
A few Bromo Seltzer bottles at auction on ebay
You will see a wide variety of prices and conditions. Be picky. These bottles are fairly common, so hold out for a decent price and look for examples in clean, undamaged condition.
Age of Bromo Seltzer bottles
First, cork top examples are always older than screw top. Figure that screw top glass bottles could be as new as the 1960s. For cork top, many will have a mold seam that goes all the way to the top of the lip which indicates they are made by machine (known to bottle collectors as ABM which stands for automatic bottle machine) A smaller number will have a mold seam which stops somewhere on the neck. These would be the earliest of all and date most likely before 1920.
Cork top examples in perfect condition bring from $1 to $5 at online auction. Expect to pay more for unusual colors – perhaps as much as $20 to $30. As of the writing of this article, groups of Bromo Seltzer bottles had also sold on ebay. I found one listing for a group of 14 that sold for $33. Note that these prices do not include the cost of shipping. Screw top examples are generally worth about the same or less. Labels always add value if they are in good condition, especially to the oldest cork top variants.
Photos of Bromo Seltzer bottles, advertising and related items
We’ve heard that American Glass Galleries is currently putting together its Spring 2010 auction. This will be auction #4. It is tentatively scheduled to close in early May.
Preview photos will be available soon. Check back here for further details or visit their web site at http://americanglassgallery.com.
Here is an absolutely amazing bottle: great color, intriguing embossing and an unusually wide mouth. It stands only 2-7/8″ tall and would be worth a bit more if it were larger. The bottle is not for me but I think it is fairly priced…retail but fair at $299. Ever seen another?
I doubt it has anything to do with Salem or witches but rather to the product’s magical powers.
The base is marked W. T. & CO. / C / U.S.A. which of course stands for Whitall Tatum Company of Millville, NJ
A rare patent model poison bottle turned up on ebay this week. It’s a small clear bottle with an embossed skull and crossbones. Anna and Clara Moss of Collingswood, NJ received Design Patent # 46,407 on September 15, 1914. I searched around quite a bit on Google Patents but could not find the patent record listed there.
With one day to go, 29 bids have run the price up over $1000. Bidding may have a ways to go yet.
Over 40 bids ran this bottle up over $5,600!
This is the only auction that I had a chance to preview this fall, but I got to see a great selection of bottles as always. The auction began and ended on high notes: Lot 1 was an exceptional G1-73 Baltimore Glass Works General Taylor and Fells Point pint in a pink amethyst – a color that could only come from Baltimore. It wasn’t that many years ago when this probably would have sold in the Pollard sale for about 5 grand. This one brought $25,000. The last lot, Lot 100, was in fact from the Pollard sale – it was a GI-19 in a copper amber color and brought $8,000. Clearly historical flasks are the hot item right now with consistently strong prices. The heck with the down economy, everyone is still eager to get the best that money can buy.
The highlight of the auction was lot 99 – a GII-69 Eagle Cornucopia in yellow olive with just the perfect coloration. The color simply glows. Bidders agreed and ran the hammer price up to $39,000.
Lot 36 was eagerly anticipated by New England collectors – the GX-27 Granite Glass Works “Stoddard Flag” closed at $21,000, a price which reflects both the high demand for flasks and the particular interest in this iconic piece of Americana.
Free blown and utility glass was perhaps a bit weak across the board – a group of snuff bottles brought $1500 and a set of nine graduated chestnuts just $2500. Prices realized for these items were not unlike those seen a decade ago, showing that there are at least some good buying opportunities out there.
See the prices realized list at: http://www.hecklerauction.com/Auction88/auction88ppl.html
The auction flyer with color photos:
Recently on ebay was a pint size Potter and Bodine jar. Notable was the incredibly clean condition with no damage at all. Everyone has seen the quarts and perhaps a half gallon, but the pints are quite rare. Just 17 bids ran the auction up to $3850 at close on November 15th.
It measures just 5-1/2″ tall, has a glass ball pontil base and, judging from the description, was a fresh discovery…
Delmarva Auctioneers and Appraisers of Delaware kicks off their fourteenth auction today consisting of 114 lots. The auction comprises early glass, Andrew Wyeth prints, an extensive collection of antiques reference books, select antique bottles and flasks and several stoneware lots.
The auction will close Friday, December 19th, 2009