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Monday, February 13, 2017

To slug, or not to slug; That is the question

No, not that kind!


One of the staples amongst western whiskey collectors has always been the "Cutter OK" glop top. Bob Barnett listed it as #237, Wilson shows it on page 58 (#3), and Thomas has it as #41 in the 2002 edition. All state that the crown is "slugged in". Wilson went so far as to accentuate the slug plate in his rendering of the embossing. Due to the immense popularity of the brand, massive quantities of the bottles were blown. They're not rare by any stretch of the imagination. 
Thomas said that more than fifty surviving examples exist; an understatement in my book. A quick search of American Bottle Auctions past sales show at least a half dozen of them being hammered over the past few years. I've personally handled twice that number in the same time span. My guess is that hundreds have survived the years and now reside in collections.
So why does such a readily available bottle still experience such popularity? Easy; the glop tops date back to the 70's, an era that has all the ingredients for universal appeal. Simply; character, color and crudity. Although the embossing is generally strong, with some bordering on bold, they are quite often extremely crude. And color! I've had them ranging from the color of a dried apricot to dense espresso amber, and from lollipop yellow to a rich red amber with the occasional one off ranging from old amber to shades approaching greenish amber.
I got a call a couple of days ago from a friend who has become quite a Cutter aficionado. He posed a question that made me sit back and take notice. Had I ever seen a Cutter OK glop top without the crown being slugged in? And if so, how much rarer than the slugged in Crown variant is it. And to further muddy the waters, is the slugged in Crown variant, or the non-slug variant the earlier bottle?
I went back through my photo archives and notes. Sure enough, they're rare. I've only seen two, and had one, in the forty some years that I've been involved in the hobby.
After mulling it over for some time, I responded with the following;
"The A. No. 1 and the OK are virtually identical except for the center of the shoulder circle embossing. The scant few A No. 1's that I've seen do not appear to be slugged and, as such, no doubt date to the same era as the OK without the slug.
Which came first?
I dunno... Common sense says that the non-slugged variant is the older of the two, but that's just conjecture. Why the second mold with the slugged crown? One can only guess that the original mold was cut sans the crown for some reason or other, and was sent back to have the crown added. Is there another variant out there that we haven't seen, which has something else in the slugged area (since the plates were removable); now that's a thought~"
Anybody else have a non-slugged crown OK out there?
Any other thoughts?

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