Rare blue-green Plantation Bitters bottle sets new auction record at $46,000

EAST GREENVILLE, Pa. — More than 550 bottles, flasks and stoneware were offered in Glass Works Jan. 21-Feb. 18 two-part online ‘Cabin Fever’ Auction.

Top lot of the auction, a rare color ‘Drake’s Plantation Bitters’ sold for $46,000. Photo courtesy Glass Works.

Top lot of the auction, a rare color ‘Drake’s Plantation Bitters’ sold for $46,000. Photo courtesy Glass Works.

The highlight of the sale was a common bitters bottle in a rare color. Lot 12, A ‘St. Drake’s Plantation Bitters’ with a presale estimate of $30,000-$40,000 sold for $46,000. “We probably sell over 50 Drake’s Plantation Bitters bottles every year in the commonly seen shades of amber and puce. So when we received a phone call asking if we wanted to auction one in blue-green we knew this was something special,” said Jim Hagenbuch, the company’s owner.


This article originally appeared in Antique Trader magazine

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Hagenbuch commented that, “Bitters bottles have been very strong in recent years, especially those in unusual colors and forms.” Other bitters bottles that enjoyed success were lot 24, a rare ‘Royal Flush Bitters’ with an impressive label showing a Royal Flush in hearts. A number of collectors were ‘all in’ on this one, with it finally selling to a California collector for $4,880 ($2,000-$3,000) estimate. Lot 259, a rare semi-cabin form bottle embossed, ‘Napoleon Bitters – Buffalo, N.Y.’ sold for $6,900, ($3,500-$4,500) estimate.

Lot 194, an early historical flask with the likeness of George Washington on one side and General Zachary Taylor on the other, a bright yellow green color pint, sold for $8,625 ($3,500-$4,500) estimate. “It was made in Philadelphia in 1848 to commemorate the Whig Parties nomination of Zachary Taylor as their Presidential hopeful,” said Hagenbuch. “They come in a wide range of attractive colors making them very appealing to the flask collectors.

This classic pottery ‘Geo. Ohr.’ Cabin inkwell brought a healthy $7,475

This classic pottery ‘Geo. Ohr.’ Cabin inkwell brought a healthy $7,475

A pair of pottery inkwells made by George Ohr, the ‘Mad Potter of Mississippi,’ both exceeded expectation. “We don’t sell a lot of George Ohr pottery,” said Hagenbuch, “but when we sell his inkwells they always seem to generate a lot of excitement.” Lot 153, an inkwell in the shape of a cabin with a ‘Geo. Ohr / Biloxi’ base impression sold for $7,475 considerably above its estimate ($2,500-$3,500).

Topping that was lot 162, another Geo. Ohr pottery inkwell, this one in the shape of a Panther’s head, and with an unusual impressed base poem, sold for $8,625 ($4,000-$6,000).

In the category of black glass, lot 73, a 17th century bottle with ‘Dribur Water’ and a Coat-of-Arms on an applied seal, estimated at ($600-$800) went to a collector in Belgium for $6,900. “We knew it was a rarity, but could only guess as to its value,” said Hagenbuch. “All the bidders were European, the winner from Belgium, the underbidder from Germany.”

Other highlights included lot 178, a pre-Civil War medicine bottle embossed, ‘Dr. Wilcox’s Sarsaparilla,’ $4,887 ($4,000-$5,000).

Lot 188, a ‘Warner’s Safe Nervine’ in a rare aqua color sold for the record price of $5,462 ($1,400-$1,800).

The total for both parts of the auction was $493,383, with only 18 pieces of the 550 offered not selling. Prices include the company’s 15 percent buyer’s premium.

Glass Works Auctions’ next auction ends March 25, and contains a highly diversified offering including a number of examples from several important collections.
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The entire auction can be viewed on-line at www.glswrk-auction.com. Or, for more information, contact Glass Works Auctions at 215-679-5849 or glswrk@enter.net.

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