Monday, June 23, 2014


27 & 28 June 2014
(Friday & Saturday)

Reno, Nevada
Reno Antique Bottle & Collectibles Club

51st Annual Show & Sale

Grand Sierra Resort and Casino
2500 East Second Street, Reno, NV 89595

See Ya there!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Cleanliness. It's not all bad~

A while ago there was some pretty heated debate about cleaning bottles.

The discussions took place on Western Bitters News, Peachridge, the WWG (here) as well as on another website which shall remain un-named. The anonymous website had some extremely harsh (bordering on fanatical) words to say about the morality or, (according to them), lack thereof, involved in cleaning bottles.

It seemed that everyone had their own slant on bottle cleaning; self included. By far and away though, most supported the procedure, assuming that, if and when the bottle was to change hands, both parties were aware of said cleaning.

I stated the following;
"Thanks to what I've recently learned, I think that it's a travesty to leave a good (but stained) bottle stuffed away when it can be restored to as new appearance and be proudly displayed for all to enjoy."

One of the bottles pictured in the WWG article of 10/28/12 was a badly stained open pontil Dr. Hooflands German Bitters. It was an Oregon dug gold rush era bottle, but such a dog that it sat in a box here, both before and after the article. (hint, if you click your mouse on the photos, they'll open in a separate and enlarged window for a real eye opener)
Recently, a good friend of mine got into the good stuff. The mailman arrived with a gift from him a couple of days after we chatted about the dig. It was a Rosedale OK "German connection" glop top. Neat bottle, I guessed, beneath an eighth of an inch of stain and crud. Odd, the stain was pretty much a dead ringer for the Hoofland's "case of leprosy".

To clean, or not to clean... I bit the bullet and took a chance. The stain had to go and the Hooflands would be the guinea pig. I was stunned after the "Ol Bottle Doc." had worked his magic on it.



With that dilema put to bed, I made the decision to take a chance on the German Rosie. Check out the before and the after.





And so I pose the question; Is the practice of cleaning deserving of tar and feathering, drawing and quartering or jail time as another author so pointedly espoused?

You be the judge. Amoral, immoral, or the right thing to do? Which would you rather have in your collection; the before or the after?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A picture pair from Portland

As many of you are aware of, we do occasional consignment sales for collectors who are adverse to eBay or the "big auction houses". We recently received a couple of bottles from a collector up north that we just don't see; ever. Both are Portland picture whiskies and both are just flat rare. We've seen a total of two of one and three of the other over the past 40 years. Both are tooled tops and clear in color. I realize that this may well turn off some of the purists out there, but for those who appreciate fancy, full faced embossing coupled with extreme rarity, this pair is tough to beat.

They are "Commodores Royal OK Old Bourbon". The embossing patterns differ slightly; with one having "KY" after Bourbon; the other "Rye" after Bourbon. The other primary difference are the names of the proprietors; Marx. & Jorgensen vs. E. C. Jorgensen.
I learned, a long time ago, not to publish what has been regurgitated as fact for the past 50 years. As such, I spend a great deal of time trying to either verify, or discredit, that which has been accepted as gospel with regards to western whiskey history.
The history of this pair of pictures is almost as tough to come by as the bottles themselves.  There's been little to nothing written about them and Portland newspaper and business directories are scant to non-existent compared to San Francisco.

John Thomas was, in this particular instance, for the most part correct.

 Here's what we came up with in terms of history regarding this pair of bottles and the folks that were responsible for them:

Daniel Marx &  E. C. Jorgensen;

According to Thomas, the firm of Marx. & Jorgensen had their start up in 1877. This is probably either correct, or quite close. (the newspaper article in the closing chapter of this article states 1876). I located an ad from "The Daily Astorian" dated January 26, 1879 stating that the firm already had an established branch operating in Astoria, Oregon, which is 98 miles by river, downstream from Portland.

Astoria has, as many will recall, been the source of more than just a handful of rare whiskies (and bitters) over the years.

According to what I was able to glean, their product line appears to have been exclusive to one brand, "Commodores Royal Old OK Bourbon". It was Kentucky bourbon whiskey, which was casked at the distillery on the east coast (I was unable to determine who the distiller was), shipped in hogsheads via railroad, and bottled initially in embossed private mold amber glop top cylinders in Portland. This bottle is quite rare, and is considered to be one of the top Oregon whiskies.

Later, a clear "German connection" glop top cylinder was produced. This bottle would date. ca. early to mid 1890's. About the same time, a domestically produced tool top was also blown. Neither the amber glop, or the clear tool tops are embossed with the name of the product.
The third variant in the lineup of embossed Marx & Jorgensen cylinders is a "real hitter". It would date from approximately the same era as the prior variants; ca. early 1890's - 1902. It is embossed with full faced coverage "Commodores / Royal / OK / Old / Bourbon K.Y." inside of a large ornate draped crest topped by a large jeweled crown, with "Marx & Jorgensen / Portland Ogn" beneath. (why the period after both K and Y in KY?).

The bottle was blown with a manganese dioxide based de-colorizor that allows the bottle to turn purple when exposed to UV radiation (sunlight). It has a long tapered collar over single ring closure that was sealed with a cork. The shoulders were air vented by a series of six small vents. The base was air vented in a like manner. The embossing does not bear any indication of air venting, although it is extremely bold and crisp. The base is plain and void of mold marks or glasshouse identifiers. We are unable to ascertain for certain which of the glass factories blew this variant, although all evidence points to San Francisco & Pacific Glass Works.


A pair of matching acid etched advertising shot glasses were produced to advertise the brand.

Commodore is a military rank used in many navies. The etch pattern is reflective of this, picturing a commodore on the rigging of a sailing ship.

On January 11, 1902 a notice appeared in the Portland newspaper "The Morning Oregonian" , which signaled the beginning of the end of the firm. The notice was a "dissolution of co-partnership", in which Daniel Marx announced his impending retirement. Emil C. Jorgensen would assume the roll of president and the responsibilities of the firm.

E. C. Jorgensen & Co. was comprised of Emil C. Jorgensen as president, Carl F. Bartholama as vice president and Max Fleischauer as secretary. The two partners were rumored to have bought out Marx's interests upon his retirement but, to our knowledge, no concrete evidence to support this exists.


After the changing of the guard, a new mold was commissioned for bottles. All production techniques noted above with regards to the prior bottle apply to this bottle as well and it too, will turn purple. This variant closely resembles the original with a couple of exceptions. Obviously the change of company name was reflected in the new embossing pattern. Another small change is in the product itself. Rather than stating that the bourbon was "K.Y.", the new mold states Bourbon & Rye. This indicates that the product was now being distilled and rectified on the west coast; no doubt to reflect the growing acceptance of west coast bourbon whiskey (and rye whiskey) and also to decrease expenses and increase profit.

One other difference encountered, although rarely, is the presence of the Riley patent inside thread closure. Thomas had never seen an example, but noted the supposed existence of one example with this new style substitute for the old cork style top. The example we have is believed to be the one that John referenced.

In keeping with the advertising theme of the era, an acid etched shot glass, sans Marx & Jorgensen was also produced.

The death knell of E. C. Jorgensen & Co. sounded on December 31, 1905. An article appeared in "The Morning Oregonian" announcing the closing of the firm. And so, with this brief announcement, the doors to the firm of Marx & Jorgensen, and E. C. Jorgensen & Co. closed for the last time.


Thankfully, we have two full faced picture whiskies and three acid etched picture shot glasses, which were produced for the firm, to remind us of these two men, and their Commodore brand. All are rare.

Thanks to Robin Preston for the shot glass photos. They are from the estate of the late Ken Schwartz~
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