Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fall Finds #2

As the digging season reaches its prime, so does the time for bottle shows.  This year there are four shows I have the option of going to.  The first in line is the Silver City Treasure Seekers annual show.  While they are a metal detecting club, their “treasure” has grown to include bottles, so there were four bottle dealers that set up.  For a bargain $2, I got a chipped William R. Potter Broad, Opp. Fenner St. Providence, RI medicine.  Out of the few Potter bottles listed, this was a new one!

A newcomer to the LRBC club Barry set up across from Jan and I.  He had recently bought a collection of around 800 bottles, so I had fun poring over his acquisitions.  I purchased two unlisted blob sodas.  One was an A. Hasselbaum Co. Providence, RI with “This bottle to be returned” on the front heel.  The other was a beautiful sun-colored amethyst Francis Gavin Pawtucket, RI.  I had never seen one in a slugplate before, and sure enough it wasn’t listed!

By far the most exciting bottle that Barry had was a L. Delany & Co. Celery Salt Paw’t, R.I.  In the shape of a salt shaker, it had a pewter cap and ground lip.  Lyons, Delany & Co. were prolific dry goods dealers, and this is only the second bottle known from their company.

While not an unlisted bottle, the squat soda made by the Crescent Bottling Co. of East Providence, RI was called a blob top while in fact, it was a Baltimore loop seal.  This is only the second RI soda I have confirmed to have this style lip.  And, who knows, maybe some of them have plain blob tops as well!

My good friend Al Otis has amassed quite a respectable collection of RI bottles and jugs.  He was recently kind enough to gift me with a Turbitt & Orme Wickenden St. Providence, RI soda that he had a few extras of.  My favorite feature is the embossed blurb on the heel: “Two cents will be paid for the return of this bottle”.  This neat embossing is listed, but on a nearly identical bottle marked “Turbitt & Co.”, which dates to right when Mr. Orme left the company around 1912.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fall Finds #1

Ok, to make sure I’m true to my word, I’ll pick up where I left off.  Last week’s yard sale produced two more unlisted RI sodas.  The first was a Shiloh Club Beverages Providence, RI.  It’s an unlisted 8oz. size of the shoulder and heel embossed version.

The last bottle was a striking Venus Bottling Co. Providence, RI crown top quart.  It was a pretty deep aqua, and is only listed in smaller sizes.
Sadly this was broken before I could get a picture. 

While brand new, exciting unlisted bottles usually come once every 5 or so years, this year has been quite the exception.  After digging my Leonard’s Electric Pain Lotion, I saw a bottle on ebay that nearly excited me just as much.  It was a Hopkin’s Magic Gold Dust by J.H. Hopkins (of Providence, RI).  It was in similar design of the A.J. Hopkin’s Magic Healing Powder, only a later version, perhaps put out by his son.  With a name like that it was no wonder it wasn’t too successful, but I have to admire his creativity.  I scooped this damaged example up for a bargain $10, the second brand new quack medicine to show up this year!

One of my favorite towns to find bottles from is East Greenwich, RI.  I somehow didn’t realize there were three different pharmacists from this town, so when a Charles D. McGettrick PhG Main St. East Greenwich, RI bottle showed up, I had an obligation to acquire it.  It was a beauty with fluted shoulders, Oz. and CC markings, and a packed slugplate.  I was even more surprised when a large size came up for auction a month later!  Now I have two unlisted sizes, 4” and 7-1/2"

This September I was excited for the return of the Little Rhody Bottle Club’s monthly meetings.  While we had a small turnout, a newcomer brought a nice mix of RI bottles to sell which produced a new J.A. Hebert 472 Broad St. Central Falls, RI blob.  

Late Summer Finds 3

After my recent large find of Newport, RI bottles, I was kind of bummed that they would be hard to find once more.  But, as luck has it, an exciting bottle turned up on ebay.  I have an unlisted size of a W.S.N. Allan Pharmacist Newport, RI, but this was a completely new version.  A larger 6-1/2” bottle sported a fancy ground throat (for a glass stopper) and the 1780 date in a banner rather than on the heel of the bottle.  Needless to say I was all over it and surprisingly won it for the minimum bid.

The ongoing construction site in Providence that produced the nice unlisted Edwin P. Anthony medicine is still churning out bottles, but admittedly at a slower rate.  I recently discovered a nice layer of ash which produced some bottles including a damaged W.R. Green Apothecary 1 Westminster St. Providence, RI.  Dr. Greene was a prominent pharmacist, and was know for having his shop open 24/7.  None of his known bottles have an embossed address, well that is until now!

Out of the few hundred different RI soda manufacturers, I seem to come across numerous versions from certain companies either due to their popularity or chance.  Finding my 4th version of an Empire Bottling Works Cranston, RI blob is rather surprising.  This example had the 133 Chestnut Hill Ave. address and “This bottle not to be sold” on the front heel.

After the successful yard sale in Charlestown, I returned to a house in Carolina, RI I haven’t visited for close to 8 years.  I went there as a youngster and bought a few bottles, and recently came into contact with the owner.  He was having a yard sale, and it was certainly a case of déjà vu.  After making a decent pile of bottles, he showed me a back room with bottles hiding in dusty boxes that had been packed in the 70s or 80s.  I battled cobwebs and mouse nests to rescue some neat bottles.  Among them was five unlisted soda bottles (including the previous bottle).  My favorite was a T. Blanchette Broad St. Central Falls, RI blob.  It had a different embossing pattern than the examples listed.

Also present was my 6th version of an Augustin Vitale Providence, RI blob.  This was really surprising since only one version is listed.  This one had a round slugplate with a bold monogram (as opposed to the example with the plain lettered monogram).
As for the other two you’ll have to wait until next week!

Late Summer Finds 2

This past August was time for the LRBC summer show at the Richmond Antique Center.  Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate, but we held it on the rain date.  While the turnout could have been better, it was still good, and I found some RI bottles.  I obtained a damaged blob soda from veteran digger Mark Thatcher, a Louis H. Meyer Library Court Olneyville, RI.  It was an early version, as most of his bottles are marked Providence.  Hopefully an undamaged one is out there!
From the same digger I acquired a nice local medicine, a Dr. M.W. Thewlis Wakefield, RI.  While it is listed, this was a new version with a fancy line between the two lines of embossing.  Dr. Thewlis became a doctor in 1911, so his bottles are fairly late examples to be handmade.

A recent tip led me to a yard sale in Charlestown, RI where a small time digger was selling off some bottles.  I was able to get a nice selection of sodas and two medicines from him.  Out of the medicines, one was a nice unlisted local.  It was simply marked Dr. A.B. Briggs Ashway, RI.  It was round with a flat front panel, which is one of my favorite medicine bottle shapes.

Another find was an exciting unlisted version of a local soda.  The Gladstone Springs Water Co. Narragansett Pier, RI bottles aren’t rare, but when I saw this example I knew something was different about it.  Sure enough, it had Contents 16 Fl. Oz. embossed on the rear heel.  An unlisted large size!  That’s the second new Gladstone bottle I’ve found in two months.

The other unlisted soda was a familiar face.  I had recently dug an unlisted S.H. Farnham Westerly, RI “narrow style”.  This example was simply embossed Registered above the slugplate, and was surprisingly unlisted with the narrow body.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Late Summer Finds

Summertime usually brings about the doldrums of the bottle digging season.  I manage to keep it alive by staying close to the water (in marshes and rivers), so I can cool off while doing what I love.  A recent marsh excursion produced a nice unlisted version S.H. Farnham Westerly, RI BIM crown top soda.  Known as the “narrow” style, it is in fact narrow and sports a short neck and shoulder.  This example was oddly embossed “This Bottle/ Registered” on the back shoulder.  Upon closer inspection, I also discovered that “NY” was erased under “RI”, a correction mentioned online.  However, the corrected version with the odd registered embossing was unlisted.

Another marsh find was a Warwick Bottling Works Arctic, RI art deco soda.  The Warwick Club art deco bottles are quite common, but art-deco “WBW” bottles are pretty scarce.  This example was unlisted in green, making it my third art deco version, two of which are unlisted.

Some rare bottles always seem to turn up in a somewhat damaged state.  This was true for my first and second examples of my Mrs. S.E. Hemingway’s Alopecial for the Hair Providence, RI.  My first example was an unlisted large size with a hole in it, and my second one was an unlisted small size full of small cracks.  If you look at it from the front though, it looks pretty good!

A fairly exciting recent discovery was that bottles marked Purogen were products of the Wilcox Chemical Co. of Providence and Wakefield, RI.  I was quite glad I didn’t try to sell an example I chanced across a while ago, and recently I spotted a perfect example in an antique shop.  I now have 4-1/2” and 6” examples, while local collector David Gates has an even smaller size.  I also recall digging part of a huge (16oz.?) shard of one with him, so the hunt is on!
Update:  A local digger recently dug a massive 32oz. Purogen bottle.  He's keeping it, but I'm getting closer to finding one!

I recently went to a yard sale of an old-time digger I had met in the past.  He had a few thousand bottles at one time but had sold them all.  During our conversation he remembered that he had two more boxes somewhere.  He was a little hard to understand and I heard the words “Avon” mentioned, which was a letdown.  Still, I returned the next day and he had two boxes of old bottles!  Some were common, but a few gems surfaced, including a pontiled Harrison’s Columbian Ink.  I gave him a Benjamin and the boxes were mine.  The only unlisted RI bottle was an early aqua Providence Bottling Co. Providence, RI.  It was the old style with “This bottle not to be sold’ taking up the entire back of the bottle, and registered was not embossed.  I have found quite a few newer crown tops from this company, so something older is nice!
(pic to come)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Summer Finds #3

Have you ever dug at a spot, lost interest, and then returned to it years later?  I’ve made it somewhat of a habit of mine.  I recently revisited a spot in Shannock I mentioned in earlier posts where an old dam was removed.  I thought I had dug the spot out, but a revisit proved otherwise.  There was one corner I missed that produced a few bottles, even underneath large flat rocks!  One of my favorite finds was a sharp looking Palmer & Madigan Importers Cor. Hay & Friendship Sts. Providence, RI pint whiskey.  There are close to 20 variations from this prolific company, and somehow I found another unlisted version!
The day's finds, including the Palmer & Magigan (center)

When I first got the Little Rhody Bottle Club’s book “Antique Bottles of Rhode Island”, I pored over the pages and made a list of my most wanted bottles.  Aside from a bunch of locals and some pontiled medicines, the obvious winner was the only “Taylor” bottle from RI.  Taylor’s Pharmacy in Newport, RI was owned by James H. Taylor.  For the longest time I could never find one of these until club member Art Palowski gave me one in his collection.  Then I found another size!  Now they are just crawling out of the woodwork (much to my excitement).  I recently found an unlisted size (5-3/8”) at a local antique shop for a bargain $10.  Now I’ll just have to dream about a 32oz. one lol.

I’ve recently been acquainted with the exciting world of city construction sites.  One site in particular yields a few bottles with each visit.  It’s not many, but enough to make you keep going back.  I was recently rewarded with a cute little 2-3/4” Edwin P. Anthony Pharmacist Providence, RI medicine.  While E.P. Anthony bottles are quite common, the Edwin bottles are less common, and this small size was unlisted. 

A nearby pottery business known as Peter Pots has always been a favorite place of mine to visit.  Located in a small rustic mill next to a waterfall only minutes from my house, it is well-known for its pottery, but I know if for the bottles that show up occasionally.  The store doubles as an antique shop, and I’ve made a few good buys over the years.  When the owner showed me two boxes of what I deem “recyclable bottles”, I almost told him to recycle them until I caught site of a soda bottle.  I was very excited to see it was a rare small size Gladstone Spring’s Water Co. Narragansett Pier, RI.  These bottles are fairly common for a local, but there is only one small size known in aqua, and this one was clear!  The price for the lot was steep, but you don’t walk away from a rare local…

The Rhode Island Antiques Mall is one of the most well-picked antique shops in the state, but every now and then you get lucky.  I recently found a rather rare (and likely unique) Otis Clapp & Sons Incorporated bottle.  While a large size Otis Clapp bottle can be found with a glass screw cap, this small example was something entirely new.  A bottle with a glass screw top was very high-end and rather expensive to make, so this is one of the rarest of the 15-20 known Otis Clapp bottles.

Summer Finds #2

My friend Jan Boyer has a famous “bottle shed” in his backyard.  I have looked through it many times, and still find bottles I’ve missed.  Recently he had a yard sale which resulted in emptying most of the shed.  One bottle I had passed over was a plain olive green wine, but when I picked it up, was surprised to find it was etched S. Levin & Sons Prov. RI.  This was the earlier Levin style as the company became Levin Bros. in 1902.  Only embossed examples are known…until now!

Some of the trickiest soda bottles to get are the early straight-sided Coca-Colas from Woonsocket and Providence.  They always go for more than I’m willing to pay on ebay due to those avid Coca-Cola collectors.  I got lucky recently on a block lettered Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Woonsocket, RI with a little flash in it.  I was delighted to find that it was embossed Contents 8 Fl. Oz. on the heel, which was not shown on the listed example.  That makes six different Woonsocket Coca-Colas now!

Another nice soda I picked up at Jan’s yard sale was a handmade crown top New England Bottling Co. CH (monogram) 7-1/2oz. Westerly, RI.  The website only lists one BIM example, and that has the AJ monogram.  These sodas are around, but the BIM ones are pretty scarce!

I recently got the urge to go marsh digging, and among the newer finds were two sizes of a screw cap RI medicine.  They were embossed twice on the sides Otis Clapp & Son with a shield flanked by two lions.  One had Inc. embossed after Son.  Currently the club hesitates to list screw cap bottles on the website, but a few have sneaked by.

Once again, my friend Jan has proved his unparalleled vigilance when it comes to frequenting antique shops.  He recently sold me a superb early T.E. Hickey & Co. Providence, RI blob soda.  Tall sodas don’t get much earlier than this late 1870-early-1880s example.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Summer Finds #1

Summer is usually an off time to dig for bottles.  The heat, bugs, and all that flourishing green stuff make it hard to compete with the beach or indoor AC.  But, for the persistent few, there are ways to beat the system...

I’ve often gazed out on Narragansett Bay imagining the thousands, if not millions of bottles that blanket its bottom.  One can dive for bottles, but poor visibility, seaweed, and quite often the gradual concealment by detritus makes it a difficult task.  Additionally, lucrative sites such as Newport harbor are protected from "treasure hunters".  Last week in June marked my first excursion into Narragansett Bay.  I chose the historic seafaring town of (anonymous) as my test subject.  It turned out to be a smashing success.  Wherever I dug in the bay I found bottles.  They might have been 1980s beers, or in one case a broken ca. 1750s Dutch onion bottle.  The key was to find areas dominated by older bottles.  Sometimes I was able to simply walk in the muck and pull out bottles when I felt them with my feet.  Among the RI bottles I found were a few unlisted examples. 
            A local pharmacist I had been impatiently waiting for came forth in three sizes, two of which were unlisted.  E.E. Young Pharmacist Wickford Pharmacy Wickford, RI.  He was one of two pharmacists that had embossed bottles made for them in Wickford.  The unlisted sizes were 5-1/4” and 6-1/2”.

Perhaps the most exciting find was a true crier.  My digging partner found a blob top soda bottle broken in place.  It was an Aetna Bottling Co. Fauly Bros. East Greenwich, RI.  There were only two other bottling companies (Gorman & Connole, J.S. Byrne) known from East Greenwich, now there are 3!  The Aetna Co. was more well-known for making bottle closures.

Another discovery in the harbor was my second Providence Brewing Co. Providence, Rhode Island BIM crown top.  I particularly like this bottle because it has Rhode Island spelled out.  This unlisted version has a comma after Providence, and a period after Rhode Island. 

At the last club meeting until the fall I picked up two nice sodas.  One was an unlisted version of the Empire Bottling Co. 129 Chestnut St. Cranston, RI blob.  The other was perhaps the nicest looking Warwick Bottling Works Arctic, RI I’ve ever seen.  While it’s listed, the strong green aqua color definitely isn’t, and it’s probably the only one known in this color! (looks nicer in person)

 I recently came across another immigrant bottle on ebay.  Residing in Florida, I took a Blanding & Blanding Pharmacists Providence, RI bottle out of retirement.  While semi-common, this example was 8” tall, making it unlisted.  I do have a clear one in this size, but this one has a light aqua tint.