Pennsylvania ‘Mystery Tavern’ dig uncovers more than 700 artifacts

By Rick Weiner

These bottles were dug from a pair of privy sites at a former tavern that operated from the 1870s to the 1890s. The tavern is long  gone, but a house that was next to the tavern still stands. The house was built in 1868.

Rick Weiner with Warners bottleRick Weiner with Warner’s quack medicine bottle. Photo courtesy Rick Weiner.

There was not much information on this tavern’s location at our local  historical society, but the bottles and other items in the privy told us it was no run-of-the-mill house privy.

There were close to 700 whiskey  “Warranted” flasks in the 1880s-90s privy and 30 or more beer mugs, shot glasses and countless broken oil lamp globs in the 1870s privy.

All but one beer mug were broken, and all of the lamp globes were broken. The bottles shown in these pictures are some of our better finds. [Click here for free download.]

By the age of the bottles found in both privies, the tavern was probably  in operation for a good 20 years.

The full tale of Rick Weiner and Paul Seidel’s dig, titled “The Mystery Tavern,” was published in Antique Bottle & Glass Collector magazine. It can be read online at

If you have an early 19th century homestead in the Lehigh Valley area (or within 50 miles) and are interested in having Rick and Paul dig its privy site to see what lies beneath, contact Rick or visit and leave a comment in the guest book.

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