Sunday, July 24, 2016

The simple joys of collecting~

Funny how life seems to come full circle. 

In the summer of 1966, while deer hunting on one of my families ranches down in California, I spotted a sparkle in the distance as the sun was setting. That sparkle turned out to be an unembossed whiskey flask, purpled by the sunlight of a hundred previous summers. I was hooked. I started "hunting bottles" on the ranch and found more. Bottle hunting evolved into bottle digging. A whiskey bottle was always a jewel in the crown. 

The other jewel I cherished was the friendships with fellow collectors that developed over the years.

In the early 1970's, I started trading and selling the stuff I'd dug in order to purchase more whiskies. Back then paper labeled whiskies could be had for the same price as one without. I liked the graphics and picked up honest labeled S.F. whiskies whenever I could. Fifty years, and over seven dozen labeled western whiskies later, my collecting tastes haven't changed that much. Neither has my appreciation for the friendships that I've developed.

A couple of weeks ago, good friend Medina and I headed south to an area on private property that I've had permission to detect and dig on since the 1980's. We've never dug anything exceptional, but it's great to get out in the woods and explore regardless. The area was logged via narrow gauge railroad at the turn of the century and the trash left behind by both loggers and railroad men is always interesting. We always seem to find something  and this past trip was no exception. We had a photo of a logging camp / railroad spur that clearly showed the layout of the little community in the woods. It made detecting pretty simple, since we knew where the cabins and tents had once been perched on the hillside. Sure enough,  brass buttons, lace up loggers boots, tin cans and a myriad of other metal "treasures" made their appearance.

Just as we were ready to pack up, my detector went off at the base of a tree. Swell, another tobacco tin... But wait, a sparkle appeared in the duff, just to the right of the tin, about a foot down. Well I'll be~ Nearly fifty years to the day, I'd dug another whiskey flask.

And the thrill was still there!

Recently, a friend of mine up north came up with a neat labeled S. F. "whiskey" (well actually a cordial / Rosenblatt & Co.) with full body and neck labels, plus the tax stamp; still corked with the lead seal fully intact. I touched base with him, and we struck a deal. I was going to have a friend pick it up for me, to save him the postage, at the Sacramento Expo since I won't be able to attend. Imagine my surprise when a few days later a parcel appeared for me at the post office from Tommy. Yep, he'd gone ahead and sent it anyway. A friend indeed!

An appreciation for neat but common dug bottles, labeled whiskies and treasured friendships molded my love for this hobby. 

A half century later - some things never change!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Independance Day!

Artwork courtesy of Brownell's - Serious about our 2nd amendment rights since 1939.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

2016 FOHBC National Antique Bottle Convention & Expo



2016 FOHBC National Antique Bottle Convention & Expo


Only five Less than THREE weeks 'till the largest antique bottle event happens in the western U.S. Four days of antique bottle activities among bottle collectors from 21 states! 
All happening at Lions Gate Hotel and McClellan Conference Center, August 4th thru 7th. 
Get the details at  or Warren Friedrich, (530) 271-5757 or

Saturday, June 18, 2016

2016 Sacramento National Antique Bottle Convention & Expo - FOHBC auction

From Fred Holabird: 
Hi thanks for the calls and all the help over time getting the word out on the FOHBC auction. I forgot to mention something important and need your help. I would greatly like to add some bottles from western states that help define bottle collecting in the West. Here’s what I’d like to see: Some western bottles that help define the state: Arizone: something like one of the Rattlesnake oil bottles. And a bottle marked “A.T.” or mining camps – Bisbee, etc. I will put in my own tombstone soda. Colorado: bottles from the mining camps that aren’t dirt common. I have a good selection from New Mexico now. Looking for Montana and Oregon pieces! We probably have California covered, unless I can find a Manzanita Cure, which would be great. Nevada – as I mentioned, I’ll pull from my collection. Washington – I’ll call a major collector I know. I need stuff within a week or so, if at all possible. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Paper labels and packing crates!

Royal Miller Whiskey

I hadn't heard of this one, and am betting that you haven't either.

Would you believe that it's a western brand? San Francisco to be precise. Nope, it's not listed in the California trade mark database that just became available either... 

Of course, none of us had heard of Sappho Brand either, until a few years ago when I acquired a label and contents bottle that had been found in a mine shaft in Nevada. 

The Royal Miller Whiskey brand was recently re-discovered while a gentleman "was helping a neighbor with cleaning out a house and came across a box that looked cool".

Yes, cool indeed!
Oh, and did I mention that the Sappho and 
Royal Miller Whiskey brands have a common denominator?


I'd date it post TOC based on the 25 oz. capacity and the style of the box construction (round nails and butt joints instead of dovetailed corner joinery). The brand must have been a total flop since it was never even recorded. I'd sure like to see what the paper labels looked like!
Ahh, the beauty of paper labels and packing crates!

Great find Dan!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Good things happen to good people

A little over ten years ago I made the long distance acquaintance of a fellow whiskey collector located in Greensboro North Carolina. David Jackson is best known for his Casper's Whiskey collection, which is arguably the most complete assemblage of it's kind anywhere.

Unbeknownst to many, David is also an avid aficionado of Western Whiskeys. 

A couple of days ago I received an email from David. I'd like to share it.

Congrats David! Awesome example and the variant that many collectors never even have the opportunity to view, let alone add to their collection! It pays being in the right place at the right time!

Site Meter