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.

Spring 2012 Finds #3

This spring was quite the productive one, from digging exciting new bottles to finding subtle variation of common bottles.  Here are a few more that I noticed recently.

One of my trades from Bill Rose at the last Little Rhody Bottle Club show was a common Geo. B. Harris Centerville, RI medicine.  While quite easy to find, I noticed this one was clear.  Matching RI-343, it’s an unlisted color!  Sometimes it’s the little things.

Another unlisted common misc. bottle was a Geo. A. Peckham & Co. Grocers Supplies Providence, RI.  This faintly embossed version appears to be lacking any punctuation, which makes it a new variant.  The George A. Peckham (no & Co.) version is more common, so this might be a tough one to get.

Among a recent large haul was a couple of base embossed J. S. Hazard & Co. Newport, RI squat sodas.  While the listed version has Newport arched up, I noticed one simply had the embossing in a circle around the base.  It also had an applied lip, so it is probably an earlier version.

I also found two unlisted medicines in this haul, one being a Caswell Massey and the other a Hazard Hazard.  The Caswell Massey & Co. New York Newport example was a 2-1/4” small round wide mouth bottle, making it the smallest Massey bottle I know of.   The Hazard, Hazard & Co. Chemists New York & Newport is square with beveled corners and measures 6-1/4”.  The square bottles with beveled edges are a classic Caswell-Hazard shape. (pic of small one to come!)

Spring 2012 Finds #2

Finally!  I am up to date.  Well, at least I was when I wrote this entry!  I may not have as many posts to make, but rest assured I’m still hunting for those elusive unlisted bottles.  Here are some of the latest finds.

In one’s digging ventures, you are bound to come across a few dumps that have bottles, but not enough to hold your interest.  Two years ago I got permission to dig a dump in Shannock, RI.  I found two decent bottles after three days of digging.  Discouraged, I looked elsewhere.  Some renewed faith in the site led me back there, and of course, I had been inches away from a bunch of whole soda bottles.  They were all from Westerly, and one stuck out.  I thought it would fall apart in my hands, but it miraculously survived the trip home and a light cleaning.  The New England Bottling Co. Westerly, RI handmade crown top is pretty scarce.  What grabbed my attention was the CH monogram.  The C was backwards!  I can’t say I’ve ever seen an error in a monogram, so I hope there’s an undamaged example somewhere!

Another Westerly soda from the same dump was a J.H. Blackler Co. Westerly, RI.  Now while it is similar to RI-770, there is no mention of the Contents/ 8 Fluid Ounces embossed on the front heel.  It could be the same bottle but I’d need a picture to verify it.

On my latest trip to David Smith’s house, he was kind enough to give me a nice Ashaway medicine bottle which he had some extras of.  It’s an A.B. Briggs Physician & Surgeon Ashaway, RI.  It’s in one of my favorite shapes, a round bottle with a flat front panel.  Only a rectangular version with this embossing is listed.

Another surprise find came from the Seekonk dig.  I plucked a Red Fox Beverages Providence, RI art deco soda off the surface.  It’s very common, but this one was in the tougher to find green color.  It looks just like RI-1460, only instead of Reg. Cap. 7 ½ Fl. Oz. on the heel it reads Reg. Cap. 7 ½ Oz.  Most of the green ones are from the 1960s, and this was an earlier 1950s example.

Two unlisted quart variants of common sodas also surfaced at the dig.  One was a Kerona Beverages Central Falls, RI with 1 Pt. 12 Flu. Oz. on the rear shoulder, and the other a shoulder and heel embossed Berry Spring Mineral Water Co. Pawtucket, RI.  They're nothing flashy, but they're new!