Bottle Blog

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

Radium Radia – a bottle with a “radioactive” price

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.

the colorful and valuable Radium Radia bottle
the colorful and valuable Radium Radia bottle


Find the Value of Your Antique Bottles Using Ebay’s Completed Auction Results

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.


Stoddard Flag Flask on ebay

You do not expect to see one of these on ebay very often since they are fairly scarce. This one has damage in the neck but is in otherwise great shape. Not everyone can afford to buy a perfect one for $25 grand!

view the auction

Stoddard Flag flask

Bromo Seltzer Bottles

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

Colors of Bromo Seltzer bottles
Colors of Bromo Seltzer bottles

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

Bromo Seltzer promotional sheet music circa 1900
Bromo Seltzer promotional sheet music circa 1900
Bromo Seltzer advertisement from 1909
Bromo Seltzer advertisement from 1909
1949 ad for Bromo Seltzer featuring Mr. Percent
1949 ad for Bromo Seltzer featuring Mr. Percent
Bromo Seltzer ad from 1960 - still featuring glass bottles
Bromo Seltzer ad from 1960 - still featuring glass bottles
Promotional 1930s Bromo Seltzer matchbook
Promotional 1930s Bromo Seltzer matchbook

American Glass Gallery #4

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

Hunter’s Corn Witch

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

Go to the listing on ebay to see this bottle for sale.

Hunter's Corn Witch
Hunter's Corn Witch

Rare Patent Model Poison Bottle Surfaces

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.

Here is a direct link to the poison bottle auction on ebay

Rare patent poison bottle





Patented in 1914
Patented in 1914

Rare patent poison bottle


Over 40 bids ran this bottle up over $5,600!

skull poison bottle sells for over $5600

Heckler Auction #88 results

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.

Group shot of bottles and glass in Heckler auction #88
Group shot of bottles and glass in Heckler auction #88

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.

GII-69 Eagle Cornucopia in yellow olive - Lot 99
GII-69 Eagle Cornucopia in yellow olive - Lot 99

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:

The auction flyer with color photos: