Washington portrait flask valued at $20,000 highlights antique bottle and flask auction

WOODSTOCK, Conn. – The lifetime, single-owner bottle and flask collection of Tom McCandless – a dedicated collector whose recent passing left a void in the bottle and glass collecting field – will be sold in three sessions by Norman C. Heckler & Company. Session I (83 lots) will go online Wednesday, Sept. 28, and conclude with a live auction on Saturday, Oct. 8.

Session II (123 lots) will go online Oct. 5 and conclude Oct. 19. Previews will be held by appointment from Sept. 20 to Oct. 18. Session III (122 lots) will go online Jan. 18, 2012 and end Feb. 1, 2012. Previews will be held, by appointment, from Sept. 20, 2011 to Jan. 31, 2012. The very best pieces in the auctions will be in the later sessions, but virtually all bottles are desirable.

Mr. McCandless’s collection is indeed impressive. Over the course of 40 years, he accumulated the very best of flasks, bitters, whiskeys, medicines, milks, sodas, fruit jars, pickles and more. These were kept at his home in Hopewell, N.J., where he lived with his wife, Marion.

“The quality and the breathtaking range of beautiful colors that exist in Tom’s collection are immediately obvious,” said Norman Heckler, Sr., of Norman C. Heckler & Co. “He was one of the first collectors to focus on color diversity. This is accepted by collectors today as perhaps the most important characteristic of an important glass collection, but Tom was one of the first.”

The McCandless collection is hitting the market at a time when antique bottles and glass are particularly hot. “They’re on a definite upswing, both in interest and prices realized,” Mr. Heckler remarked. “The demand for flasks and bitters, especially, is insatiable, especially at the high end. The market may be flat for some collectibles, but not so for antique bottles and glass.”

One bottle being offered is expected to bring $20,000-$30,000, and it was one of Mr. McCandless’s personal favorites. It is an Albany Glass Works (N.Y.) Washington portrait flask, made circa 1848-1850. It is an exceptional half-pint flask in every way, with strong embossing and rare and beautiful coloration (light golden yellow with a deeper golden color neck and base).

Fully five bottles carry pre-sale estimates of $10,000-$20,000 each. They are as follows:

• An S. C. Brown’s figural herb bitters bottle (Phila., circa 1860-1880), triangular, with beveled corners, strong embossing and bright light to medium lime green coloration.

• A Washington bust and sailing frigate portrait flask (Albany Glass Works, N.Y., circa 1848-1850), sapphire blue with applied sloping collared mouth — an exceptional pint.

• A General Taylor bust and monumental portrait flask (“Fells Point/Balto”), made circa 1830-1850 by Baltimore Glass Works, puce with gray overtone, extremely rare.

• A Washington classical bust portrait flask (Bridgeton Glass Works, N.J. circa 1840-1860), yellow with a topaz tone, very rare, with beautiful color and strong embossing.

• A Log Cabin “Hard Cider” historical flask with barrel and plow graphics (Pittsburgh, circa 1820-1840), brilliant light blue-green, a great bottle in mold strength and color.

A pair of bottles are expected to bring $7,500-$15,000. They are a “Fairview / Works” short-haired bust made by the Wheat Price & Company Mfrs. (Wheeling, W. Va., circa 1820-1840), light blue, in fine condition; and a miniature figural bottle in the form of a cannon barrel (R.&G.A. Wright, Phila., circa 1860-1880), plum amethyst color, one of only two known.

One bottle with a fascinating history is a cylindrical applied seal wine bottle (possibly American, circa 1760, est. $3,000-$6,000). It is marked “PS” — for Peter Stuyvesant, to whom it belonged. He was the great grandson of the last Dutch colonial governor of New Amsterdam. The bottle was dug up from seven feet below the surface of the Stuyvesant Estate in New Jersey. Several bottles boast incredible striations – the series of ridges, furrows or linear marks on a glass or bottle that create a colorful, streaking effect that is highly desirable to many collectors. Three in particular are expected to generate tremendous bidder interest. They are:

An eagle historical flask (probably Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks, Keene, N.H., made circa 1820-1830), with wide profuse amethyst striations (est. $3,000-$6,000).

A Washington-Taylor portrait flask (Dyotville Glass Works, Phila., circa 1840-1860), rare, with unusual ginger ale coloration with apricot striations (est. $5,000-$10,000).

Another Washington-Taylor portrait flask, also made by Dyottville circa 1840-1860, light to medium blue with deep, profuse horizontal striations (est. $5,000-$10,000).

To learn more, contact 860-974-1634 or info@hecklerauction.com.

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