SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A little more than 300 rare and vintage bottles, most of them dating to the mid-to-late 19th century, will be offered in an Internet and catalog auction that will go online May 24 and end June 1. It will be the 50th sale to date for American Bottle Auctions (www.AmericanBottle.com), a firm that has become a leader in the burgeoning field of antique bottle collecting in its 17-year history.
“We’re proud to be able to present our 50th auction,” said Jeff Wichmann of American Bottle Auctions. “We had no idea how long we’d be doing this when we started out, but as long as we’ve come this far I say let’s go for 100. I hope every collector bidding finds something that suits them.”
Wichmann said his growth and success would not have been possible without the “terrific audience and consignors” he’s maintained over the years, adding, “We will continue to provide the best service and friendly atmosphere people tell me we exhibit in our sales. My staff here has been stellar in their job duties and together I feel like we’ve created something special.”
The auction beginning May 24 will feature bitters, fruit jars, medicines, historical and western flasks, western whiskeys, sodas and more. It’s still not too late to call for a free catalog (1-800-806-7722) or send an e-mail request for one, at firstname.lastname@example.org. The website shows photos of all lots.
Following are some expected highlights from the auction, with minimum bids shown as MB.
The expected top lot of the sale is a Powell & Stutenroth “Favorite Bitters” bottle, the smaller variant made prior to the firm’s adding the word “People’s” to the name. Only a few of each variant are known to exist. This example, with a minimum bid of $10,000, is nearly perfect. The only flaw is the letter “s” in “bitters” is a bit rough. Otherwise, it even has the original cork and is graded 9.7 (10).
Another superstar of the sale figures to be an F. & P.J. Cassin Agents O.K. Golden Plantation Whiskey fifth (San Francisco, Cal.). The bottle is considered one of the top western fifths anywhere, and it is quite possible a Cassin fifth has never been offered at auction before. This example is golden amber with a touch of orange, and has a great strike and tons of whittle. It’s graded 9.5 (MB $8,000).
Close on the heels of that lot promises to be a Dr. Wosner’s U.S.A. Indian Root Bitters bottle with applied top, W-146 (MB $7,000). The bottle boasts not only an irresistible name, but a shape that is both handsome and unique in its category. The example has been graded a solid 9.5, with good overall light crudity and a great strike. The bottle came from a longtime collection and is fresh to the market.
Two bottles carry identical minimum bids of $5,000. The first is a Cassin,s (and that is meant to be a comma, not an apostrophe) Grape Brandy Bitters with applied mouth, C-78, arguably the most desirable of the western bitters. The other is a W&B Shasta/Union Glassworks Philada. (sic) Superior Mineral Water western soda bottle with original closure and graphite pontil that has been graded a 9.
A Wm. H. Spears & Co. Old Pioneer Whiskey bottle (Fenkhausen & Braunschweiger Sole Agents, S.F.) was found by the consignor about 1965 while on a fishing trip in Nevada County. It was probably discarded by a miner, and has been graded 9.8 (MB $3,000). Also, a very early Wister’s Club House bottle with applied top and graphite pontil was made circa 1851-55 and is graded 9.5 (MB $2,000).
A London Jockey Clubhouse Gin bottle, with embossed horse and rider, applied top and smooth base, boasts a gorgeous almond yellow, wheat and straw color combination is in spectacular condition, has been graded 9.6 (MB $2,000). An A.P. Almaden Vichy Water California quart bottle with monogram, applied top and smooth base, is rare but graded 8.9 due to some lip distraction (MB $500).
A Washington/Bridgeton (N.J.) flask with sheared lip and pontil (GI-24), rare because of its tobacco amber coloration, has been graded 9.7 and is a brilliant example with overall good crudity and character (MB $300).
A Kelley’s Old Cabin Bitters, Patented 1863 (K-21), with applied top, will stop collectors in their tracks for its rich tobacco or light olive amber color, not the usual brown (MB $200).
American Bottle Auctions was founded in 1990 by Jeff Wichmann, a native Californian who has been collecting antique bottles for nearly 40 years. Over time, the firm grew and underwent a name change, but the focus has remained the same: American Bottle Auctions specializes in appraising, brokering, consigning and auctioning antique bottles and glass.
To learn more about American Bottle Auctions visit www.AmericanBottle.com.
Photos courtesy American Bottle Auctions.
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