Sunday, August 26, 2012

Spring 2012 Finds

Well, I’m finally getting close to caught up!  I’m in the not so distant past of the significant Seekonk Bottle Dig.  For years the club has wanted to go on a group dig, and we finally got the chance to.  While we didn’t find anything spectacular, it was great seeing a bunch of diggers together.  Well, ok, perhaps I did find something…
I decided to make a second trip to the site, and of course my day off was rainy.  I weathered through it (literally), and dug.  A lot.  I found the expected milks and some RI sodas, then a pleasant surprise.  Old bottles!  I had gone from the 1930s to 1880s in a few scrapes of my clam rake.  An aqua medicine fell at my feet, and wiping it off I was at a temporary loss of words.  In my hands was a completely unknown 1870s RI patent medicine.  Leonard’s Electric Pain Lotion Providence, RI.  It had age, rarity, and a super name.  I gave it a few well-deserved jumps of excitement and showed it to the landowner, who got a kick out of the name.  Needless to say, it was quite a “shocking” discovery!

Even more recently was the Little Rhody Bottle Club’s spring show down in Richmond, RI.  I was happy to see four newcomers set up.  They made some cash, we had some good buys, and everyone was happy.  For the price of $1, I picked up a bottle embossed Price & Co.  While it may not seem like much, I had done my homework, and knew the style matched that of similar bottles from Walter Price of Westerly, RI.  It was an exciting discovery that I knew Westerly collector David Smith didn’t have. 

I recently had the pleasure of meeting the newest member of the Little Rhody Bottle Club, Leona.  She brought two boxes of soda bottles to the club meeting, which is impressive for a beginning collector.  While a little beat up, I couldn’t pass up and unlisted Crystal Beverages Providence, RI art deco soda.  Quite amusingly I would end up digging one of these in Seekonk a few weeks later.  Déjà vu again…

I usually don’t mention broken bottles, but one piqued my curiosity.  Any collector who’s dug in RI a few times will undoubtedly come up with a Warwick Bottling Works.  Probably the most common RI soda bottle, they infest every dump from the 1920-30s era.  In 1930, the company became the Warwick Club Ginger Ale Co., which is even more common.  There are quite a few variants out there though, so I keep an eye open.  When I dug a broken slug plate to a quart sized example, I paused.  The only quarts I knew of are simply marked “W.B.W. Arctic, RI”.  This one had the whole name spelled out, and was definitely unlisted.  It might not be that killer bottle everyone wants, but now that I found a piece the hunt for a whole one is on!
Update:  Since I wrote this up for the blog I almost couldn’t believe it when I found one of these in a friend’s collection!  He had it out in his shed so it was a cheap buy. 

One of the neatest RI bottles from my recent huge bottle haul (story on was a Wm. E. Clarke Pharmacist Providence, RI.  These fairly scarce bottles are usually marked Hunt’s Remedy on the sides, but this one was simply marked Clarke on both sides.  Research on the Little Rhody website shows that Clarke took over Hunt’s Remedy in 1872.  Judging by the crudity of the bottle, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a pre-Hunt’s Remedy era bottle.  If so, that would make it the oldest version known.

Recent Past Finds 2

Welcome back, this is my 9th post, so I’ll slow things down with a leisurely bike ride.  Oddly enough, that’s how I got my next unlisted soda bottle.  I decided to bike down the South County Bike Path to Wakefield, RI and do some antiquing.  I stumbled across a small antique store I’ve never been to, and found a few keepers.  Among them was a Gladstone Spring’s Water Co. Narragansett Pier, RI.  These bottles are around, but I noted this one was handmade, making it considerably scarcer.  Mine was clear and had Spring’s instead of Spring, while the only listed one was aqua.  I was afraid to bike back with it since it didn’t fit securely in my pack, so I left it nearby at my friend David Gate’s house who also has a great (ok, and better) collection of Gladstone bottles.  His includes two seltzers, an unlisted small size, and a massive embossed demijohn.  Someday…

Google searches for specific RI bottles are good for research, but not for when you want to find bottles for sale.  But, every now and then, something will surface.  I got a hit last year on a collector’s for sale website on a rare spring water bottle.  It was embossed Green Valley Spring Water Pettaconsett, RI.  Now Bill Rose had beaten me to finding one of these by a few months, which he sold to another collector.  His however, was aqua while this one was clear.  A little research showed that Pettaconsett was part of Cranston, and today the name only exists as a small side road.  I paid a total of $39 to have it shipped to my door, which was not bad considering the gallon size and rarity.

I recently discovered the Stillwater Antique Center, and while it’s a little hike to get there, I can always find at least one bottle to make it worthwhile.  I always liked how the center was situated in this old stone mill.  Of course, that leads to the rather obvious conclusion that gee, there must be bottles behind this place!  So, off I went, bushwhacking my way to the rear of the mill.  Unfortunately, there was this large circa-1900 addition in the back that disturbed/covered the best place to look, and the shallow river was very rocky, making shards plentiful.  I came across this nice rock shelf jutting out over the river, and suddenly spotted a bottle sticking out of the ground!  It was an ACL Yacht Club Beverages soda bottle, and while the label was faded, I didn’t have one yet.  Digging was very hard since there were more roots than dirt, but soon I had about 20 Coca-Cola bottles and three Yacht Clubs.  I was excited to uncover an unfamiliar art deco soda, and to my delight, saw that it was a Yacht Club Bottling Wks. Centerdale, RI bottle!  A visit to the Yacht Club Bottling Works (still in business) down the road helped confirm my hunch that this was probably the rarest Yacht Club bottle around.  Even though it was damaged it’s a standout bottle in the RI art deco category.

A recent advertisement on Craigslist led me to the house of an East Providence digger.  While not up to his neck in bottles, he had about 200 for me to pick through.  I left with a box of RI bottles for $25, which mostly consisted of sodas.  One of the more interesting trios in the lot was from J. Keron of Central Falls, RI.  He sold a drink called Herbola, or Herbol depending on the bottle you come across.  One BIM crown top with all the embossing in the slugplate (including Herbola) was unlisted, and another similarly embossed example lacking the Herbola part was also unlisted.  I’m almost positive that Mr. Keron later went on to start the Central Falls Bottling Co. that put out the very successful Kerona soda, which one can easily dig up at your nearest 1940s dump.

Every now and then I will notice a trend on ebay.  In particular, I noticed that as people retire and move to Florida, they take a lot of bottles with them, some of which are quite nice.  I almost couldn’t believe it when I found a listing for an embossed City Drug Store Block Island, RI medicine bottle.  Block Island bottles are some of the rarest and most sought after southern RI bottles around.  I only knew of three at the time, two were milk bottles, and the other a Cundall & Ball’s Pharmacy.  It was a very long week as I waited for the final day of the auction.  I put in a high bid knowing I’d likely never see one of these again, and was happy to win it at the fairly low price of $41.  I later found out that Cundall & Ball did indeed run the City Drug Store.  Now to get over to Block Island to do some digging!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

More Recent Past Finds

I’ve been slowly increasing the number of bottle shows I attend, and soon fear that my reach will encompass all of New England.  My latest venture was a 3 hour drive to Dover, NH for the New England Antique Bottle Club show.  It was bigger than I expected, and after selling a Boston jug, I was able to splurge a little.  Looking through a box of common medicines paid off, and I got a nice Corrigan the Apothecary Providence, RI /Fall River, Mass.  Hang on, is that bottle from two states?  I didn’t know until I got home that it was an unlisted bottle and one of only two RI medicines from two different states.  The other is a Dr. Hoff’s Syrup of Tar and Wild Cherry from Providence and Waltham, Mass. 

Another find from the same show had a little more history with me.  A few years ago I bought a squat soda marked E.P.F. in block letters on the front and J.S. Hazard & Co. on the bottom.  I knew it was a RI soda since J.S. Hazard has bottles from Newport and Westerly (he moved around).  I was young at the time and had a specific quota of how many bottles I was supposed to be obtaining.  Of course this was the one time it was enforced, and I never saw that bottle again.  I was thrilled to see one at the New England show for an agreeable $10.  I notice that the J and Z on the base are backwards, which adds to its character.  Now the great mystery is what does EPF stand for?

Recently I committed to buy a whopping 60 RI soda bottles from my friend Jan Boyer.  I just felt that it was time.  There were a bunch of unlisted variants, including two new Cranston Bottling Co. Inc Cranston, RI, three Augustin Vitale Providence, and an early handmade crown top Warwick Bottling Works Arctic, RI.  I now have five Vitale variants while only one is listed online.  Interesting…

I recently ventured into uncharted territory and made my debut appearance in a Portsmouth, RI antique center.  The long drive was worth it, as I found a box of semi-decent bottles for a mere $10.  Among them was another one of those elusive acid etched sodas.  This one was an unknown E.E. Ferrin Summer St. Prov.  I tried to research the name, but came up empty.  That now brings my etched sodas/beers count to 5!  Update:  I recently found an Eaton E. Ferrin listed as a bottler on Summer St.  I originally said the name was Ferria, as the etching was weak.

Ebay produced another unlisted soda variant from the distant lands of Pennsylvania.  A lady found a D. Proto & Sons Bottling Co. Bristol, RI art deco soda.  Listed in quart size, this one was a cute 8oz. bottle.  No sooner had I documented this when I got another unlisted Bristol soda in the mail.  This one was an Empire Bottling Works Bristol crown top quart.  One can easily find their unique bottles with an embossed person in a flowery scene (Roman empire?), but this was an early slug plated bottle, probably from the companies beginning in the 1920s.