WOODSTOCK, Conn. – A rare and early double eagle historical flask, made in Pittsburgh circa 1820-40 and boasting a deep yellow olive color, sold for $53,820 in an Internet and catalog auction held May 16-30, 2012 by Norman C. Heckler & Co. The flask was the top lot in an auction dedicated mainly to antique bottles, flasks, pottery, antiques and Americana.
The early Pittsburgh district was a hotbed of glass and bottle manufacturing in the 19th century. The exceptional and beautiful pint flask, in the great GII-1 mold with crisp embossing, had a sheared mouth and pontil scar. It sailed past its pre-sale estimate of $15,000-$30,000, mainly due to its very rare color. It is quite possibly the only known specimen of this bottle in the deep yellow olive color.
Just as exciting to collectors was the nice selection of fresh-to-the-market finds that had never before been offered at auction. “Fresh finds that uncover important bottles in our hobby have become quite rare,” said Jason Heckler of Norman C. Heckler & Company, “but this sale gave us all hope of finding that next ‘bottle in the rough.’ These items added to the excitement and success of the sale.”
Five rarities in particular really piqued bidder interest. One was a GI-44 Washington-Taylor portrait flask, made in Philadelphia but only recently found at a dig in Savannah, Ga. The flask was recovered from a privy in the city’s Historic District that dated to around 1820 and was in use until the turn of the century. The bottle was recovered from a ‘cleanout’ pit eight feet deep, adjacent to the privy.
But as impressive as the flask’s back story was its extremely rare brilliant yellow color that had an unusual gradation, from yellow to almost clear in the middle of the body. It also had particularly strong embossing. These elements combined for a pre-sale estimate of $5,000-$10,000, and by the time the dust had settled following an intense battle of determined bidders, the final price reached $14,040.
A Dr. J.S. Woods Elixir medicine bottle, originally found under a porch in New York State and consigned from a pawn shop in the Southeast, hammered for $11,700. The bottle — probably from Albany, N.Y. — was tombstone-shaped and colored emerald green. It was expected to fetch $2,500-$5,000, but the bottle’s extreme rarity, combined with its fine condition and color, drove the price up.
A rare and popular “Snake of Corruption” flask (so-named because of the obverse motif of a snake or serpent being held in the beak of an eagle) was another “fresh find” that wowed the crowd. Discovered at an estate sale outside of Columbus, Ohio, the bottle was rushed to Heckler’s just in time for the sale. The early Pittsburgh district flask, light green in color and strongly embossed, hit $10,530.
A very early shaft-and globe wine bottle from England, also recently uncovered, fetched $5,850, against a pre-sale estimate of $2,500-$5,000. It was found in Narragansett Bay, R.I., by a diver, and consigned by the Rhode Island businessman he sold it to. The small, globular, half-size bottle, with a long neck, sheared mouth with string rim and yellowish olive green color, was rare in color and form.
A P. & U.S. Spring Co. (Saratoga, N.Y.) mineral water bottle, consigned by a construction worker who found it while part of the excavation team at the ‘Big Dig’ (the name given to the re-routing of Interstate 93 and airport traffic underground in Boston), breezed to $4,680. The emerald green bottle, in fine condition and in a very rare size, was expected to achieve $2,500-$5,000, which it made easily.
Following are additional highlights of the auction. All prices quoted include a 17 percent buyer’s premium.
A big, beautiful, early and extremely rare B. F. & Co./N.Y. applied seal pattern molded whiskey jug, probably made in Midwest America circa 1840-1860, hammered for $5,265. The golden amber jug had an inverted conical form with applied handle and seal applied to the lower handle attachment. It also had an applied double collared mouth with spout and pontil scar. The bottle stood 9 ½ inches tall.
- A D. (Five Dots) Brechva sealed wine bottle from England, made circa 1774, cylindrical in shape with an applied seal at the mid-body and colored a medium to deep yellow olive, changed hands for $1,989. The bottle, in exceptional condition and with a strongly embossed seal, had a sheared mouth with string rim and pontil scar. It stood 9 inches tall and was 4 ½ inches in diameter at the base.
- A pressed lamp, possibly made by the Boston and Sandwich Glass Works (Sandwich, Mass., circa 1850-1880), topped out at $1,404. This cobalt blue example was of single-piece construction, with a circle and ellipse pattern and a simple hexagonal stepped base. Its strong selling points were its beautiful color and fine condition. The only flaws were typical very minor flakes at the lamp’s base.
For more information visit Norman C. Heckler & Co.
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