Scores of 19th century bottles to be sold in cataloged, online auction Jan. 8-18

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – More than 325 rare and vintage bottles – most of them made between 1850 and 1900, the period most desired by collectors, when superior embossing techniques were employed – will be sold in an Internet and catalog auction slated for Jan. 8-18 by American Bottle Auctions ( Phone and absentee bids will also be accepted in the auction.

“This is our Auction 49 and serious bottle collectors need to mark their calendars,” said Jeff Wichmann of American Bottle Auctions. “We have some great stuff — bitters, fruit jars, medicines, historical and Western flasks, Western whiskeys, sodas and more. This could be the best auction we’ve ever had.” Bidders can call or e-mail for a free catalog (1-800-806-7722 or

Mr. Wichmann said the auction was shaping up as only a so-so event until the start of November. “Then we just started getting all these wonderful consignments in, like outstanding whiskey and bitters collections and other rarities. Bidders will be able to see each bottle on a live streaming video during the sale, as part of our state-of-the-art and easy-to-use online bidding platform, developed especially for us.”

Following are some of the anticipated top lots of the sale, with minimum bid figures included.

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Chalmers Catawba Wine Bitters bottle, one of the finest examples of a popular Western bitter.

antique fruit jar
Trademark Lightning emerald green quart bottle with Putnam 328 on the base and replaced top.
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Miller’s Extra E. Martin Old Bourbon Trademark (circa 1871-1875), an embossed Cutter/Martin bottle.

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National Bitters bottle in a rare ruby red coloration, with Patent 1867 on the base and applied top.

A Miller’s Extra E. Martin Old Bourbon with embossed trade mark (circa 1871-1875) is one of the best of the embossed Cutter/Martin fifth bottles, and this is one of only about 10 mint examples known. Fresh to the market, it was found in a basement with the original cork and appears as it probably did when it was first made nearly 140 years ago. Medium old amber in color (Grade 9.7, MB $4,000).

An E. G. Booze’s Old Cabin Whiskey (1840) with applied top is one of the classic bottles in American history. It is known the Booze name was used before this bottle, but apparently a bit of a revival occurred when it reappeared. This example was purchased from an earlier glassworks auction and may have been displayed in a museum. Attractive, graded 9.7, with no visible flaws (MB $2,000).

A J.H. Cutter Old Bourbon E. Martin & Co. Sole Agents (circa 1873-1877) banded pint flask with a crown on the shoulder is one of numerous Cutter whiskies in the auction, and that’s a good thing. This popular crown shoulder example is considered one of the top Western flasks ever made. A few minor scratches on the reverse panel and elsewhere are the only imperfections (Grade 9.3, MB $4,000).

A Bridgeton New Jersey Washington pint flask with a sheared lip and open pontil is an outstanding pint in a rarely seen color. This spectacular Bridgeton (GI-24) boasts a jagged tubular pontil and an outstanding medium-to-deep amber coloration near the base. It has loads of overall whittle and a pristine surface. A spectacular piece with a super strike, this seldom-offered pint flask is graded 9.8 (MB $2,600).

A Washington/Baltimore Glassworks portrait flask with the Baltimore monument and portrait of George Washington (circa 1830-1850), with rolled lip and pontil, is rare for its medium green color (they’re usually aqua). This example has some intriguing irregularities, most notably a slag of glass (or wing mark), which is a piece of glass left over from the previously blown flask (Grade 9.3, MB $5,000).

A For Our Country / Eagle (GII-54) pint flask with sheared lip and pontil is presented in a color seldom-seen in this bottle: tobacco green with striations of olive. This is a very busy flask, showing a 20-star flag surrounded by six ribs, while the overall pebbly and pristine surface virtually screams early America. It is a seldom-seen, excellent-condition pint flask that was made over 150 years ago (Grade 9.8, MB $5,000).

A Trademark Lightning emerald green quart bottle with Putnam 328 on the base and a replaced top is right up there with virtually the best of any jar (aside from the blue pint). This example has an overall nice whittle and is one of only about a half-dozen known in this color. The lid has been painted. This quart bottle has been graded 9.8 (MB $4,000).

A Harkness Fire Destroyer grenade bottle (circa 1865-1885), 6 1/4 inches with a ground lip, has one of the rarest color combinations possible: sapphire blue with huge swipes of pure oxblood puce. It is possibly the finest grenade known, made more desirable by the extremely odd and beautiful combination of colors. Bidders may never see another one again at auction (Grade 9.8, MB $2,600).

A Chalmers Catawba Western wine bitters bottle (trademark Sutters Old Mill Spruance Stanley & Co., Proprietors), with an applied top, is a fine example of a popular Western bitter. This bottle has loads of whittle and is colored a brilliant bluish aqua, with a solid strike. This same bottle sold at an earlier American Bottle Auction and it set a record for the most ever paid. It’s graded 9.8 (MB $8,000).

A National Bitters bottle with “Patent 1867” on the base has the original label and an applied top. At first glance, it appears to be simply red amber in color, but a closer inspection reveals it has a true purple puce coloration – a brilliant ruby red. Such coloration is rare and desirable in bitters bottles. The drippy top can be held in the air with just a fingernail. Nearly perfect, with a 9.9 grade (MB $4,000).

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. Bottle collecting is a burgeoning genre.

Mr. Wichmann has personally researched, appraised and estimated the value of tens of thousands of antique bottles and related items. He is often called on to appraise antique bottles and glass for private individuals and businesses. In 1999, he wrote and published The Best of the West – Antique Western Bitters Bottles, a top research guide. He has also written many articles on the subject of antique bottles.

American Bottle Auctions is always accepting quality consignments for future sales. To consign a single bottle or an entire collection, you may call them directly, toll-free, at 1-800-806-7722; or, you can send them an e-mail at

To learn more about American Bottle Auctions and the upcoming Jan. 8-18 Internet and catalog auction, visit

Photos courtesy American Bottle Auctions.


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