Monday, February 25, 2013

Not Quite RI

This post is dedicated to a rather uncommon occurrence.  During my research, I have discovered that a few RI bottles listed as RI bottles are, in fact, not! 

When I acquired a Silver Spring Brand Bowles Brothers Company I did some research on it.  William A. Bowles was a resident of Brockton, Mass.  Then a sign popped up on ebay for the company.  It also had a Brockton, Mass. location.  So how did this bottle get in the book?  Well, it turns out that there are a lot of Silver Springs.  I can think of three in RI alone.  One of these bottles was probably found in close proximity to the site of a RI Silver Spring and the rest was history.

Another popular RI bottle is G.W. Davis’ Inflammatory Extirpator & Cleanser.  This nicely named medicine was assumed to be a product of G.W. Davis, a botanic druggist in Providence.  He does have a bottle marked Providence after all.  A lot of research showed that there was a G.W. Davis in New York, and he is the only one mentioned in relation to the Inflammatory medicine.  The earliest versions are pontiled, and later ones are smooth based.  Some later examples are marked C.L. & J.W. Isherwood on the side.  This company was located in Fall River Mass., which explains why some were dug in RI.
Note: The example I own on the right has been artificially irradiated with UV rays (sigh).

A bottle that I was almost sure was from RI was Dr. S.A. Weaver’s Cerate.  While pontiled examples of this bottle are certainly from RI, the newer, smooth based ones are not.  It is likely some were, but at one point Dr. Weaver died and the company was taken over by the Davis & Lawrence Co. of New York and Montreal.  A bottle with the original label and box confirmed this. The early smoothed  base examples come in aqua, and the newest ones can be found in amber.

One bottle I had long hoped was truly from RI was Crary & Co. Stag’s Head Worcestershire Sauce.  There was a Crary & Co. in Providence that dealt in meats.  After seeing a labeled example from New York, I checked to see if it was a mismatch.  I found a listing advertising Stag’s Head Worcestershire Sauce by Crary & Co. of New York.  Sigh, well now we know!

Lastly the very last medicine bottle on the Little Rhody website got my attention.  It is simply embossed Zipp's Pharmacy Cor Sumner & Putnam Ave.  I tried to research it, and I could not find the roads in Rhode Island.  A search for Zipp's Pharmacy solved the mystery.  Unfortunately I found an article stating it was from Brooklyn, NY.  Alas, another goes to the Big Apple!

Winter Finds #4

The February Little Rhody Bottle Club meeting was an eventful one!  A man from Massachusetts selling his father’s collection came, and it was like a second Christmas.  He had a name your price policy.  I bought a great grouping of listed and unlisted RI bottle.  One of them was an Antonio Gasbarro Providence, RI machine made blob.  These ABM blobs aren’t very common.  It was clear that this was an early one, with a lot of mold imperfections.  The strangest part was the blob lip.  At first I thought the inside of the lip was chipped, but it appears that it was actually overblown, and the excess glass was chipped off.  I guess quality control wasn’t as good back then!

A bottle that has long eluded me is the R.L. Rose Co. whiskey.  This Providence bottle has an eagle in a shield and a dragon on the front, making it one of the best pictorial RI bottles.  I have always been outbid on the handful of these that showed up on ebay, so it was nice to finally bring one home.  The icing on the cake was discovering it was an unlisted version.  The lip style and footed base weren’t listed.

One bottle I had the feeling I would eventually come across was a Geo. L. Claflin & Co. Wholesale Druggists Providence, RI.  I had seen a few before, and this one happened to be an unlisted size at 4”.  This is an earlier style Claflin bottle dating from about 1885-1895.

Another exciting find was a Leon Marmette Druggist 602 Broad St. Central Falls, RI.  I knew right away it was unlisted because of the unusual name.  Bottles from Central Falls aren’t too common.  Less than half the druggists listed in the RI directories have embossed bottles.  At least that’s how it is…for now!

One new RI bottle didn’t come from the big collection selloff.  A Shiloh Quality Beverages Providence, RI soda was a welcome addition.  The shoulder and heel embossing seem to indicate that it was made to have a paper label.  The stippled body and slanted writing give it a nice look.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Winter Finds #3

A recent house call in Pawtucket was pretty disappointing.  For reasons unknown I paid too much and am hoping to break even.  One of the bottles was a badly damaged E.A. Gavitt Jr. Narragansett Pier, RI handmade crown top.  The listed version has a comma after Jr., so this was a minor unlisted variant. 

Another surprise from the dismal house call was a common Dr. J. Miller’s Vegetable Expectorant Providence RI.  The listed version has a comma after Providence, and this one lacks it.  Sometimes with the more common bottles these are just online errors.  The first entries in the LRBC bottle book didn’t pay as close attention to details that later became more essential to differentiate variations.  I’ll have to check my other examples in storage to confirm that both versions exist.

A recent antiquing trip though RI was unusually productive.  Among the finds were a T.M. Morris Bristol, RI machine made crown top soda.  This example was embossed on the shoulder in two merged rectangles. 

One of the more interesting finds was an unlisted Batcheors priof ABM soda.  The unusual lip is embossed “Registered Patented “Priof”.  The priof top was advertised as an alternative to the crown top.  The inventors claimed it would prevent chipping when the bottle cap was removed.  To the contrary, this style ended up chipping more often than the crown top, and was quickly discontinued.  This particular bottle dates to the 1920s.

A recent ebay purchase gave me a bottle I missed years ago at the Little Rhody Bottle Show.  It was one of the neatest RI pharmacy bottles I’ve seen, and when I came back to get it someone was walking away with it in their pocket.  It was embossed It Pays to Trade at Powells Newport, RI.  When I got my example I was excited to see it was a different version!  It had a lot of characteristics of a machine made medicine bottle.  It has a double reinforced lip, fluted shoulders, and Oz. and CC measurements.  The base is embossed Blue Ribbon, a bottle company which began in 1908.  The back of the bottle is embossed Quality on the shoulder and Purity on the heel.  It is common to find ABM bottles with only this slogan embossed.  It certainly is an interesting bottle!

Winter Finds #2

January brought about one of my favorite events of the year.  The Little Rhody Bottle Club annual show in South Attleboro.  As the first boxes of bottles were getting unpacked, I made my first round.  The first table I checked had an interesting looking medicine on it.  My heart almost skipped a beat when I saw the embossing.  Huston’s Consumption Cure Providence, R.I.  Rhode Island cures are exceedingly rare, and to find an unlisted one like this never happens.  It gladly paid the $40 he was asking and secured my new treasure.

Remember my friend Bill who dug a few Oates Brothers blobs last week?  That wasn’t all he found.  I noticed a worn and rather old looking blob at his table, and to my excitement it was a J. Scheminger 18 Snow St. Providence, RI!  Quite a few blogs back I had bought a J.H.S. Snow St. Providence blob.  Then out of the blue I found the matching porcelain stopper.  To find this one was beyond coincidental.  When he was at 18 Snow St. he ran the Dresden Hotel. This blob is packed with embossing, including a "whoops", embossing Registered twice.

I have many George A. Peckham bottles.  It seems the slug plate engravers decided to try every variation possible by changing the punctuation.  My newest George A. Peckham Grocers Supplies Providence, RI is no exception.  This example has a period after Peckham and Providence (the latter should have been a comma). 

Another exciting find was an unlisted error version of a Barbour’s bottle.  This example was a Barbour’s Westerly & Watch Hill, RI.  The engraver for these bottles was so bad he made a total of three different errors.  But, this bottle didn’t say Nesterly or Westerly, NY.  Instead there was backwards A in Barbours.  It’s not as noticeable, but was still a nice surprise.

Recently a fellow collector from Warwick was kind enough to give me two free boxes of common bottles he was getting rid of.  Among these “commons” were three RI sodas I didn’t have, including an unlisted J.L. and P. Gannon Providence, RI.  There are no listed examples with “and” spelled out.  

Winter Finds #1

The mill village of Arctic, RI is known to local bottle collectors as the home of the Warwick Bottling Works (later Warwick Club).  They were one of the biggest beverage companies in RI, if not the biggest at one time.  But, this village was also home to a few pharmacists, which you can count on one hand.  I was very excited to see an unlisted bottle from Sterrat & Johnson Arctic Cente, RI show up on ebay.  Research showed they were only in business for a few years in the 1890s.  All the other Arctic bottles I know are simply embossed Arctic without Centre, so this was a fairly important find! 

I mentioned last week that a friend of mine purchased a collection of blobs.  Another surprise was an unlisted local soda!  John F. Perry of Narragansett Pier, RI was one of five bottling companies in Narragansett.  He was also the oldest and most diverse as far as bottles go.  This example has a nice oval slugplate and a somewhat fancy embossing style.

A fellow digger in the LRBC (Bill) has been digging at a farm dump with good results.  I was quickly able to deduce that the early occupants of the farm had acquired a taste for the Oates Brothers Providence, RI products.  I acquired four different variations, including one listed version in the unlisted color of aqua.

I have recently returned to a mill village dump I have been digging on and off at for about five years.  My digging certainly proved that it had been thoroughly dug, but I finally found two pockets that the other diggers missed!  Among the loot was a nice W.H. Arnold River Point, RI handmade crown top.  I have a weak spot for the narrow body sodas in a grey aqua.  I’m not sure what the cause of color is, but these grey aqua sodas seem to date from the mid-late 1910s.

An invite to dig near an early 1800s house is hard to turn down, even when there is snow on the ground!  The white stuff sure made the dump harder to find, but once I found it, not a single bottle was safe.  It didn’t get as old as I had hoped, with most of the finds dating to the 1920-50s era.  While somewhat mundane, I found a base embossed Colonial Bottling Co. Providence, RI green quart crown top soda.  I have a clear one, so this makes a pair!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Late Fall Finds

Last week I mentioned finding a nice cache of bottles in a river.  I must say this is one of the most leisurely ways of finding bottles.  It takes a good eye, but spotting an algae-covered bottle just lying in the river can be just as exciting as digging.  I was lucky enough to find two more unlisted RI sodas that day.  The first was a McKenna Bros. Providence, RI blob.  While fairly common, that usually leaves room for a few variants.  This example had a larger monogram than the version listed (RI-1246).  The other soda was a handmade crown top from the Puritan Bottling Co. Providence, RI.  The embossing arrangement is different than the example pictured online.

The November meeting for the Little Rhody Bottle Club produced some bottles from East Providence, which aren’t terribly common.  I bought a pair of machine made Star Soda Bottling Works East Providence, RI soda bottles.  The smaller 7oz. size wasn’t listed with a slugplate online, making it a new variant.

I currently live in the quaint mill town of Hope Valley.  It happens to be the home of an elusive local medicine.  G.E. Greene was the only pharmacist in the town for many years, and I’m the proud owner of a few of his bottles.  One day I was digging near a cellar hole in the sandy soils of Charlestown, and behold!  My first dug Geo. E. Greene Pharmacist Hope Valley, RI medicine!  It was a listed version, but at 5-1/4” an unlisted size!

One of many return trips to the large 1940-50s dump in Seekonk, Mass. produced an Otis Clapp & Son Incorporated medicine bottle.  Based in Providence and Boston, this company lasted over 100 years.  While many screw top RI bottles are not listed, this one will probably find its way into the ranks soon enough.

A fellow collector recently bought a large collection of RI bottles that largely consisted of blob top sodas.  I was happy to receive the doubles and damaged examples.  Among them was an unlisted McKenna Bros. 54 & 56 Eagle St. Providence, RI.  The punctuation is pretty funky on this one!

Fall Finds #5

Hello again, and sorry for the slacking.  I'll spare you an explanation and dive right back in!

Sometimes you come across that bottle that you just can’t make heads or tails of.  In this case I can’t figure out where it’s from.  The bottle in question is an amber medicine marked Romoc Co., Sole Proprietors Boston, Mass. U.S.A.  Now it does seem fairly obvious that this is a Boston bottle, but I had the (mis) fortune of seeing two labeled examples.  Of course, these labels stated the company was from Providence, RI.  Hmm…  My best guess is that this short-lived company started out in Boston and moved to Providence, since directories and advertisements never say they were located in two places.  I’m keeping mine for now, since it has RI ties, but can’t bring myself to call it an unlisted RI bottle.

I recently went kayaking on a RI river with a fellow ACL collector Steve.  Kayaking is his favorite way to find bottles, and from his online posts I was fairly impressed.  We found a few soda bottles, which made the trip worthwhile.  Among them was a Sherba Beverage Co. West Barrington, RI (ABM).  I have one in green, but this was an unlisted aqua version.  Another soda was a What Cheer Bott. Co. Inc. Providence, RI (also ABM).  I have a quart, and this is my first 7oz. example.

Club member Bob Lampher had the good fortune of finding not one but two rare RI ink bottles.  Naturally I couldn’t help myself, and now have a Builder’s Recorder Ink made by Builders Providence, RI.  It’s a bit harder to find than the Venturi Ink bottles from the same company. 

My recent kayaking trip inspired me to look for bottles along another river, and I must say it was rewarding!  I came home with three full buckets of bottles, including 30 Coca-Colas alone.  My second trip produced an unlisted handmade crown top soda.  American Bottling Corp. West Exchange & Fountain Sts. Providence, RI.  While bottles are very common from this company, this was only the second one I’ve seen with an address, and it wasn’t listed. 

I’ll end with a special bottle.  When a colored pontiled RI soda shows up on ebay, I’m quick to admit defeat in view of my meager budget.  That’s why I was surprised and delighted when a J. Harvey & Co. Canal St. Providence, RI emerald green squat ended with a high bid significantly under $100.  What made me happy was that it was my high bid!  It is only my third pontiled RI soda.  This example has a “sand pontil”, which some confuse with an iron pontil missing the iron residue.  This unlisted pontil style, along with unlisted punctuation made this a great buy.