Fake Watkins tooth powder bottles discovered during collecting club’s annual convention

WINONA, Minn. — Though members of the Watkins Collectors Club met for an expected full day of customary convention activities Aug. 21, 2010, a pall was cast over the event when it was discovered that three club members had purchased similar “faked” Watkins tooth powder bottles. The members independently purchased four bottles with two different labels.

The first buyer bought two bottles, each with a different label from a dealer specializing in advertising items in September 2009 at the The Great Geauga Racetrack Antique Show in Burton, Ohio. One bottle was amber glass and the other was clear glass. Both bottles featured blackened cords and contained a fine, white powder. The dealer reported that he had obtained them from the collection of bottles and tins amassed by a retired dentist.

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Four allegedly ‘faked,’ vintage-looking Watkins bottles were discovered during the Watkins Collector Club annual convention in Winona, Minn.

A third bottle was bought January 2010 at an antique show in Punta Gordo, Fla. Its label was an exact duplicate of one of those bought in September 2009, right down to the frayed and worn marks, but affixed to a different colored glass bottle.

A fourth bottle was bought May 14, 2010, at the Springfield, Ohio, Extravaganza Show. Its label matches one of the others on yet another shape of bottle.

At the August convention, all four bottles were placed together and the experienced collectors in the club determined them to be ‘fake’ due to the following observations:

  • the same minor defects on one label were also on the other identical label.
  • the same labels were on different-colored and different-sized glass bottles
  • all four corks have the same black color suggestive of aging
  • none of the experienced collectors have ever seen bottles of this type in any almanac or print material from the company
  • bottle types were not consistent with the time period of the label.

At the Springfield, Ohio, Extravaganza, on Sep. 17, 2010, two of the three buyers met with the dealers to share a copy of the picture showing the four bottles along with a copy of a page from the 1913 Watkins Almanac that pictures one of the labels on a tooth powder tin, not bottle. The members noted there was a tooth powder tin for sale in a case that had the same label as one of the alleged faked bottles. The dealer reported that the tin was consigned by the retired dentist who was out of the country on a vacation. They agreed with our concerns and indicated they would consult with the retired dentist as soon as they could.

The dealer called the member back Oct. 8 to report that the retired dentist indicated he bought the bottles at a flea market somewhere in New York and that he was willing to take them back and refund the money. The issue has not yet been resolved.

The Watkins Collectors Club ask that anyone who may have bought a
Watkins tooth powder bottle in the last several years to please contact
them with your experience. Contact newsletter editor Marsha Watkins or call 614-873-1656.


On a more pleasant convention note, Marsha Watkins’ display of a 1938
kitchen stocked with Watkins miniatures earned the People’s Choice
award at the Watkins annual event.

The annual Watkins Collectors Club conventions are generally held in Winona, Minn., home of Watkins, Inc. The convention has traditionally been held in the summer and activities include: Watkins museum tour, member’s sales tables, display tables, members-only auction, and seminars. Membership is $20 per calendar year for which members receive four newsletters. For a sample newsletter contact Watkins.

Have some collecting club news to share? Send it to our editors so it may be published in print and online: Antique Trader News.


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