Wednesday, November 23, 2011

SHM / Stuarts - Wilmerding

Howdy all;

I received an email from Bill Curtis this morning regarding his acquisition of the C. W. Stuarts, and his observation about the similarity of the embossing area coverage on the Stuarts and the embossing pattern on the SHM. In the email, Bill sent a couple of rubbings along with the possibilty of the Stuarts bottle being a reworked SHM mold. An interesting consideration to say the least.

Bill noted,

Hello Bruce I got a Stuart`s last week after looking at it I dont beleive it is made from the Cassin`s mold you can see the slugged out area on the Stuart`s fits the SHM but not the Cassin`s also the Cassin`s has a different bottom and the shoulders are different and if the Stuarts was made from the SHM that would explain the circle on the front of the Stuart`s let me know what you think maybe you can put this on your site.

First off, congratulations to Bill for having the good fortune to have the opportunity to acquire the bottle and have the funds to do it with (both at the same time). Seems like, at least for me, I have money when there's nothing available or visa versa... The Stuarts is a key piece and Bill should be mighty pleased to add it to his collection!

Rather than offering up an opinion in response to Bills email; I'm going to respond with a number of facts and questions. Maybe we can put our heads together and come up with a reasonable group hypothesis.

As we all know, mold modifications were a common place occurrence and we've seen numerous examples where So and So became So and Co. when the second "So" dissolved the partnership. Same goes for Bottled "For" being peened over, replaced by Bottle "By", etc. etc.

We also know that the glass factories maintained an inventory of blank half plate molds. These blank half plate molds were stocked for two purposes. They were stocked in order to allow the mold cutters ready access to blanks with which to fill an order for an embossed mold. They were also used as the back half (plain label side) of a two piece mold bottle.

We also now know, subsequent to the discovery of the Wilmerding & Co sign that documents both east and west coast distribution, that the firm was actively merchandising C. W. Stuarts, McKenna's, United We Stand, SHM (and a few other brands) concurrently.

John Thomas offered a hypothetical dating of this group as follows; Stuarts - ca. 1875 - 1883 / McKenna's - ca. 1874 - 1878 / United We Stand - 1878 - 1883 / SHM - 1874 - 1878. We discovered that the dating of the Untied We Stand was erroneous and that it was originally produced for the 1876 Centennial celebration. The length of the run, however, is still unknown but the commonality of all four bottles dates to ca. 1876 - 1878.

According to Thomas, the Stuarts was blown excusively by C&I of Philadelphia. The McKenna's and the SHM were blown both by C&I and in San Francisco, the United We Stand   only in S.F. since none have been documented with the C&I base mark. Cunningham and Ihmsen remained in business until 1878. The question then begs, if the Stuarts and the SHM were blown at the same time, and by both eastern and west coast glass works, what would be the logic of modifying the mold by slugging out the embossing when both molds were in concurrent use?

We then look at logistics. Assuming that the SHM mold was no longer needed, and that the S.F. glass works decided to created a new half mold for the Stuarts, which makes more sense. Would they 1) Peen out all the embossing and then re-cut the old mold with a new "pattern" or 2) simply take a new fresh half plate mold out of stock and cut in the new "pattern"?

Personally speaking, based on my research, John Thomas assumed a lot without having the facts to back up his statements. As I've stated previously, John did the best with the research tools that he had available and we owe him a huge debt of gratitude for giving us the foundation of research upon which we've continued to build. And in his defense, a lot of his assumptions made sense at the time based on the documentation that he had available.

Regardless, when one takes all the facts into consideration regarding the Stuarts, you have to question whether the shield was a reworked mold at all; regardless of whether it was a Cassins or an SHM~

Bruce aka Kentuckygem

Friday, October 7, 2011


Well, it's almost Showtime; another week and change~ And this year promises to be a real treat for collectors and dealers alike! So what's different? Well, we sold out early this year. Dealer spaces and displays alike are full. And the phone continues to ring with inquiries from collectors and the general public inquiring about the show.

The same familiar faces at the Seven Feathers Casino Resort are back again this year to provide us with the luxurious accommodations that we've come to know and love. Dealers can look forward to the annual complimentary $100~ cash drawing and this years raffle drawings promise to be bigger and better than ever! Hourly free drawings for the general public promise to ensure a steady flow of folks off the street too.Thanks to many of the online sites, we've been advertised heavily on the Internet. We've also invested heavily in Pacific NW print to make sure that we've got a good flow of foot traffic off the street.

We've saturated the media from the California border to Portland and have visited every back water town in the surrounding area as well; plastering antique malls, junk shops, Mom & Pop Markets and anywhere else that the local citizenry might stumble across show flyer's and an invitation to have their hidden treasures appraised for free. And, as always, the ever popular live silent auction returns.
Displays this year include a couple of new offerings including what is considered to be the top EC&M collection in existence.
Bill, Dale, Scott, and I are looking forward to sharing another memorable weekend and seeing one and all. Come join us at Seven Feathers Casino Resort on October 15th from 9AM - 3PM ($10~ early admission Friday the 14th - noon to seven PM) for Canyonville 2011 - Antique Bottle, Insulator and Collectibles Show and Sale where, "You Can Expect the Best"!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Downieville 2011 - What's not to like?

The Downieville show, much like the Canyonville Oregon show, has earned it's own nickname. Friends and "family" these days just call it D'ville .

And the answer to "What's not to like?" is simple and to the point. Absolutely nothing~ It's all good! Nestled in the highest of the High Sierras, Downieville is the ideal location for one of the west's premier bottle shows and get togethers. The shows slogan should be, "step back in time". That hits the nail on the head.

Deb, my wife, had never made the trek, despite the fact that I've been a regular from day one. This year, as full retirement fast approaches, I put my foot down. Make time, reschedule one of the labs that you teach, and lets go forward, into the past. And much to my surprise, she did.

The drive from J'ville to D'ville is wondrous. We head out of our 1851 Oregon gold rush town, drive for about a half hour on back country roads and then blast into the present on Interstate 5. Barreling south at well over a mile a minute, we rocket to Corning in record time. From Corning we head southeast, stopping briefly in Chico at Trader Joes (priorities...), finally arriving in Oroville for both people and truck refueling. And then the regression begins. Lazy one lane roads meander through the scrub oaks and Jeffery Pines as we wander eastward through the Sierra Foothills. As we cross the dam at Bullard's Bar, a wondrous transformation takes place and we emerge in the High Sierras. Sugar pines, yellow pines and tall cedars replace the lowland vegetation. The air is clearer, cleaner, crisper and bluer. Before we know it, we turn left on Hiway 49 and trek north as the North Yuba River dances downstream, outside the passengers side window. And then suddenly we round the last bend. Magically, we return to the past in J'villes California counterpart. Downieville aka "D'ville", ca. 1849. We've arrived. Forward into the past.

It's around 4PM and it's 90ish and change; warm, real warm, by D'ville standards. As Tim, Rick and Lou dealt with setup logistics, we decided to wander around town for a bit. Talk about dejavu. Downieville, like Jacksonville, is akin to turning the pages of a Norman Rockwell book of prints. History is around every corner. Well preserved and restored historic buildings abound. Friendly folks smile and say hi~. Local dogs meander, kids play, fisherman try their luck at the river and the mountain bikers slowly come back in to roost. With an hour to kill before things start getting into gear over at Simiville, we decide to check into our home away from home for the weekend.

Located just before the iron bridge as Hwy. 49 crosses over the Downie River, the Carriage House Inn perches on the west bank on Commercial Street. It's cute, it's clean, it exudes personality. And Liz, the "sole proprietor", is wonderful. She's perky, attentive, and a great conversationalist; (not to mention very attractive). We were fortunate to be assigned room #3. It has a private bath, queen bed, microwave / refer, a leather sofa, and a balcony overlooking the river. Wonderful for kicking back and taking in the D'ville late summer afternoon.

Around 5:30 we decide to migrate upslope to prospect for a party. We stopped to check our pans about a quarter mile up Main Street. We'd heard that a serious pay streak was rumored to have been discovered on the grounds of the old D'ville Brewery. Man did we hit the mother load there! There were "prospectors" from all over the west congregated.

Wil and Jeanne Clark had the 49 Wines tasting booth set up. Standing room only. Wil has been a great mentor to those of us that enjoy wine, but still need to polish up on the finer points of appreciation.

Much like the rendezvous of 150 years ago, bottle prospectors came together to enjoy a night of festivities that will not soon be forgotten. As always, the food was simply awesome! Memorable snapshots include the ever present karaoke inside the Simiville Saloon, which started with  a couple of the ladies (L & J) bursting forth with a rousing rendition of Love Shack. Followed by a couple of the ladies (J & L) bursting forth with yet another rousing rendition (or two) of Love Shack. Lane, not to be outdone, proceeded to test the theory of gravity. Yep, Newton was right. And gravity still works just as good these days. Rick and I visited outside while the gang inside put Simi's framing abilities to the ultimate test. The '06 S.F. Earthquake could not have rocked the Simiville Saloon any harder. And yet, it stayed on it's foundation. No small tribute to the master builder!

As the evening progressed, we spent time mixing with as many friends and fellow collectors as the hours allowed. Slowly, close to midnight, the crowd began to run out of gas and we all migrated back to our homes away from home for the evening. I'm sure my thoughts were mirrored by everyone else. What a great get together! The hours flew by; the evening over too soon.

Debs cell phone alarm went off early, way early, like 5:30AM early! Nothing like a technologically advanced four year old grand daughter to get your morning off to an early start. Remind us never again to ask "Alli" how to program the alarm before leaving on a trip; at least not until she's a teenager and wants to sleep until noon...

Wide awake (well sort of), we begrudgingly crawled into action. Shower, shave, Advil... and a banana washed down with coffee. Frankly, I don't recall a thing about the early morning, although somehow the racks got set up, the whiskies arranged, and folks started stuffing money in my hand in exchange for bottles. Around nine AM things started to gel again and I thought, heh, this is all good. Especially after Ferd was kind enough to snap a digital of me with the flash locked in the off position. I owe him big time~

The show saw a steady flow of folks through the doors starting early on. I was pleasantly surprised by the interest and sales of common stuff off my table like Sarsaparillas, Dr. Kilmers, cures, remedies, and the like. Sure, I had them priced cheap but at least there seems to be a renewed interest in entry level bottles by folks (both young and not so young).

And there was also an obvious interest in the top end of bottles as well. Here's a list, down and dirty, of some of the all stars that changed hands; Dr. Bell's Cocktail (?) Bitters shaped like a bell, 3- Dingens Napolean Cocktail (?) bitters - shaped like a banjo, Salutarius bitters SF in dark green, GO Blakes, J. Moore / Chielovich, Old Woodburn, California Clubhouse and an ST Suits, an Old Cabin Bitters in light amber, a yellowish Wormers pint, a couple of Tea Kettles, a complete and matching set of cobalt Carters Cathedral inks,plus God knows what else... By the time the dust settled, a healthy six figures in top end antique glass had changed hands in one day. Sounds like a new fangled gold rush to me.

Fast forward to Saturday evening and a renewed chance to relax at yet another BBQ. And once again, both food and conversation flowed. Being somewhat adventurous, I took a chance on a sausage that intrigued me. Rick mentioned that Tim had supplied it and it wasn't just your basic off the shelf Johnsonville Braut. Hmm, what a nice surprise. It looked like something I'd enjoy, since I'm well known in J'ville for creating my own brands of "Silva's sausage". Warren, sitting next to me, tried the same.  After a couple of bites, the real surprise set in. This wasn't just any sausage; it was nuclear sausage. Sweat poured out - beer and wine poured in. It wasn't enough. The heat just kept cranking. @#$%  ^*!!!! I felt like the star of Man vs. Food, and the food was winning; in a big way! Higgins, we owe you.

Saturday AM greeted us with the sounds of the Downie River gently gurgling past our room and continental breakfast on the verandah. A couple of trips to the truck, another brief chat with Liz, room checked out, keys turned in, and we were on the road again.

I thought that we'd try a different route on the way home. It was pretty, and pretty long~ Please remind me next year not to take the "shortcut" home via 49 to 89 to 70 to 36 and down into Red Bluff next year. (What the hell was I thinking?) 8+ hours home. Almost makes the Bullard's Bar to Oroville drive look like a cake walk...

Late afternoon finally saw us crawling down the long dusty gravel lane up to our place. Full of great memories of the D'ville weekend that we dream about every year.

Two simple words describe the show;
Great Job!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Only on ebay...


Don't you just love those photos~


  Buy It Now!


US $500.00
Buy It Now
Item number:

Item Description






·         APPROXIMATELY 11 3/4" TALL


That's right boys and girls. Step right up, don't delay, be the first on your block to own this extreme rarity.

Yep; ONLY $500~. (plus $15.90 postage and handling)

Such a deal...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Zero hour approaches!

Last I checked it was the 4th of July. And now, here we are, just a few days from September 10th and the annual Gold Rush show that everyone looks forward. Yep this weekend is......................Downieville!
SEPTEMBER 10, 2011 (Saturday) - HISTORIC DOWNIEVILLE CALIFORNIA ANTIQUE BOTTLES & COLLECTIBLES SHOW. Saturday, September 10, 2011. Show hours: 10 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. (8:00 a.m. for early lookers and admission is free after 10 a.m.) Downieville School Gym. Contact Info: Rick or Cherry at (530)289-3659 or email:

Here's a quick run down of things to look forward to;

Wine tasting starts about 5pm on Friday, the 9th. Saloon is open. BBQ is served about 7pm on Friday. Rick says that they are expecting quite a few for the Friday night fun.

Word has it that half of the L.A. bottle club will be in attendance. Rumor also has it that two people will be bringing in a box or two of bottles to sell off the street. Not sure who they are or what they're bringing. A Gold Rush square? Belt Buckles? A Bryants cone? How about a green Kentucky Gem for your truly?

Displays this year are rare California beers from the O'Neal collection, Western miniatures from the Higgins & Lindgren collection and bottles from the Pisano collection. Lou L. will be bringing some of the stuff that almost never sees the light of day.

Lodging in Downieville has always been scarce. True to form, all rooms in Downieville are full, but Sierra City still has lodging. Call ahead to make arrangements!

Sounds like there might be a couple of tables left for last minute dealers. Any questions; give Rick Simi a shout.

Looking forward to a great weekend and seeing one and all. Stop by the table and say HI!
Thanks to Dave G. for the high quality .jpeg of Downieville 1850~

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

You be the judge

True to his word, Andy V. had his friend shoot photos of his Hassmer. I received them this morning.

The base style of both Andy's, as well as my glop and tool top, are all what Thomas termed style one "1870 - 1890 / Majority of older whiskies". The texture of the base on my glop is fairly smooth,

whereas Andy's has the texture of an orange.

One thing is for sure though; whomever applied the tops on both sure didn't skimp on the amount of glass used. Take a look at that spillover!

Anyway; Pontiled or not?

What say ye?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hassmer revisited

Andy V. mentioned the possibility of an oddball Hassmer variant with either a sticky ball or graphite pontil scar on the base. His comment got me curious. As I mentioned before, it's obvious that both the tooled and applied top examples in my collection originated in the same mold. The font, spacing, etc. etc. etc. are identical when compared with photo overlays and caliper measurements.

The mold was modified to improve the finished product by the addition of a couple of air vents on the reverse shoulder, but that's the only thing I noticed. Until Andy mentioned the base on his.

Although the bases proper on my two are identical, a mold number was added when the venting was done as the glassworks transitioned from glop to tool tops.

I sure would like to see a photo of Andy's.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The cause or the cure?

I did a display with that title many years ago. It was kind of a what came first, the chicken or the egg, quandary dealing with western whiskies and bitters.

Most, if not nearly all, west coast liquor wholesalers had both a bitters and a "hard beverage" lineup of products. I used to enjoy thumbing through Bill & Betty Wilsons books on both bitters and whiskies and actually built up a pretty respectable collection of matching bitters and whiskies by company. I've since sold off all but a couple western bitters, and have instead focused on western whiskies, primarily cylinders.

Some time ago, I had the opportunity to add a glop top cylinder to my collection. It is without question, one of the crudest and rudest globbies I've got. It's embossed in grand full face style; "Valentine Hassmer's / Lung & Cough Syrup / Price Per Bottle $1.25 / Five Bottles To A Gallon / P. O. Box 1886". No city or state listed in the embossing, but the crooked right leg on the "R"s left nothing to the imagination. And the style of the glop top, along with the color of the glass cinched it for me. It had to be from San Francisco. And so it sat, flanked on one side by a McKennas and the other by a Hilbert Brothers.

As so often happens, I stumbled across another, only this time tooled, but yet blown in ta very similar mold. Hmm, another "crossover". It's a bit more neatly made, no doubt because of the addition of two funky looking air vents located on the rear shoulder, with nowhere near the character of the glop.


The label below was the original one submitted with the Trade Mark application on Jan. 6, 1881.

The tool top has two important features that the globby doesn't; label and contents.

The label, like a picture, is worth a thousand words. First off, the price embossed on the front appears to almost be the same as on the glop top, but the label states, "Price per bottle $1.00", instead of a buck and a quarter. It also decrees that the company was now incorporated, and shows the physical address as 933 Washington St. It states that the tar black stuff inside was "For all diseases of the Throat, Lung and Catarrh Fevers" and that "It will cure Consumption". It goes on to give dosing as a wineglass three times a day - but the patient may increase the number of doses a day at will (Geez, ya think?).

Armed with the information on the label, I did some snooping around the "musty halls of history" and found out that Valentine Hassmer made his debut in San Francisco in 1873 as a "grocer, provisioner and liquor dealer". He located at the corner of Washington and Powell (which is actually 933 Washington as listed on the label). From what I could surmise, he also made his home here, as was often customary, because no residence is listed separately. In 1876, he is listed as dealing in groceries and liquor. This listing remains the same until 1880, when he is listed as dealing in lung and cough syrup, still at the same address. Everything remained status quo for the next 22 years, until October 21, 1902, when the business and building was offered for sale. Looks like he stretched the truth a bit when he claimed established 1864.That or the almanacs failed to note his presence.

The last advertisement for the business appeared in the November 28, 1902 edition of the San Francisco Call.

Valentine Hassmer disappeared from the radar for good after the publication of the Crocker Langley business directory in 1904.

There's no doubt in my mind that this particular bottle qualifies as the ultimate crossover between glop and tool top whiskey and quack cure. And no, I don't plan on sampling it. It's probably a combination of rot gut high proof whiskey and rotten vegetables~

Monday, July 18, 2011

Good Golly Miss Molly!

Been a busy day here at "tool top central".

You guys are awesome! Here's another fresh batch, some of which I've never been fortunate enough to even handle.

Please, don't forget me when you make out your will...


Belle of Mason

Chesleys Jockey Club - (Clubs)
Notice the nearly identical engraving on the Half Dollar (or visa versa). Coincidence? I think not.
And yet another "full face" Columbian.
Who said that "13" was unlucky. Wished I was lucky enough to have this 13 base Eagle Glen on my shelf!
Gold Dust Rye

Well now. It really does exist~ Looks like a nominee for the top shelf to me!
 Log Cabin            WOW!
Pacific Club
Another offering from the Pacific North West.

Phoenix - large bird / right face
"Green Tea"
But wait, there's more!

Not a picture, but tough to beat for downright rarity.

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