Thursday, June 18, 2015

8 + 8 = 16. Or is it 91?

The other day Bill, a friend of mine from northern Cal., touched base. He was looking for a specific bottle; an amber glop top Roth & Co. with the high base kick-up and the #"16" embossed in the center of the base dome. I've only had a couple over the years. One still resides on my shelf, while the other was sold as soon as it came in.

We got to talking about the Roth, and it's four "cousins" who share the same odd base. They include the McLeod & Faus, Mohns & Keltenbach (Eagle Glen), Seegelken & Buckner and Weil Bros.

We both remarked about how illusive (or elusive - depending on your mind set), these bottles are and that the mystery of who made these bottles has remained unsolved all these years. That's when Bill said, "If anybody can figure it out, it will be you".  Not sure if that was a challenge or a compliment, but it sure got me to thinking.

Since there are no real clues to work off of, I figured that I'd start with the obvious; the years that each firm was in business. I referred to both the Langely and the Crocker / Langely San Francisco directories and came up with the following years that each firm appeared, and subsequently disappeared from the listings, as well as the business address listed at their inception;

McLeod & Faus / 74 1st Street / 1893 - 1895



Eagle Glen  / Mohns & Keltenbach / 29 Market Street /
1895 - 1900



Roth & Co. / 214 Pine Street / 1878 - Volstead Act


Seegelken & Buckner / 821 Montgomery / 1893 - 1901


Weil Bros. & Sons (note Weil Bros, sans Sons, dates back to 1869) / 213 Jackson / 1887 - 1917


The addresses had no relevance but... the dating of the bottle was a no brainer. The only year that all five of these firms existences overlapped was 1895.

Oddly, this year also coincides with the peak of the German Connection clear and red amber glop tops that Abramson and Heunisch were importing to the west coast from Europe, which were being produced by Gerresheimer Glasshuttenwerk. Unfortunately it is probably just that, mere coincidence. The glass coloration of the so called "16"  base cylinders is vastly different. With the exception of the S&B, the style of the tapered collar tops, whether tooled or applied, seem abnormally elongated as opposed to GC production. The tops of both tooled and applied,  appear to have been finished with the same tool. The embossing fonts and styles don't even come close to the German cylinders. Dead end there?

All five are virtually identical in terms of mold construction. There is no air venting visible on any of the molds. The circular slug plate, that contained the embossing patterns are identical in dimensions when measured with a dial caliper. The embossing fonts present on the SeeGelken & Buckner and Eagle Glen / Mohns & Keltenbach are a match. The G is very distinctive. In addition, the slanted "AND" is one in the same on the preceding two, plus the McLeod and Faus. The font style of the lettering on the McLeod & Faus, Roth & Co, and  Weil Bros. & Sons are a match. And, as mentioned, the tops are also virtually identical. The Eagle Glen and the Seegelken and Buckner are a very light yellow / orange amber. The other three are a shade of lighter orange amber. This would indicate that at least two different batches of glass were used in the production process.

And then something caught my eye that no one has ever taken note of. A side by side examination of the base marks on the Roth, Seegelken, and Weil in my collection revealed the following; a dot is present next to the number 1. Could this, instead of " '16", actually be "91." ? Rich L. was good enough to shoot crisp photos of the McLeod & Faus, and the Eagle Glen. Sure enough, they too have identical base markings. Here they are in alphabetical order;

Unfortunately, no one responded to our appeal for information on east coast bottles that may be a match. The only online reference to a similar base mark was found on "Glass bottle marks". It mentions a "16S marking, mostly on the lower heel area on soda and beer bottles, and attributes it to American Bottle Company, at their Streator, Illinois  location ca. 1916 - 1923". Toulouse failed to note anything similar to either " '16" or "91." .

What we do know is that a convincing case can be made that all five rear half molds and base plates are identical, the slug plate insert were all utilized in the same front half molds, the same individual (or individuals) cut the embossing, and that the same tools were used to finish the tops, regardless if they were tooled or applied. And, there's no denying that all five bottles were produced during the year of 1895. The base marks are identical, although I'm now convinced that instead of " '16", it's actually "91." . My guess is that they are eastern in origin due to the style of the top and the coloration of the glass.


Just where these bottles were actually blown, however, remains a mystery.

1 comment:

Warren Friedrich said...

Why wouldn't you consider them to be a product made at S.F. & P.G.W ?

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