About two months ago fellow collector Al Otis decided on a different path in his life which involved selling his bottle collection. It consisted of over 600 different RI bottles, including many unlisted and one of a kind examples. It was one of the top 5 collections of RI bottles, and I was definitely interested. Being a poor college graduate, I regretfully could not purchase the collection even though the price was very fair. In a bittersweet yet expected turn, a friend of his bought them to sell individually. I was over in a heartbeat to set some aside. It was pretty overwhelming, but I tried to get the rare and unlisted bottles. While 68 bottles sounds like an inconsequential fraction of the 600 bottles, I was able to acquire what I believed to be the most important bottles I could afford. Here are some of the finds:
An unlisted Caswell Mack & Co. Chemists New York & Newport was hard to pass up. There are no listed rectangular versions of this bottle, and this one is fairly crude. Dating from ca. 1863-1880, these Caswell Macks are some of the oldest bottles from the Caswell/Hazard/Mack/Massey empire.
Another bottle known for its many varieties, a Barbour’s Westerly & Watch Hill R.I. was a nice find. This small size had a different style font and underscore than listed versions.
I was very excited to discover that an already rare pharmacy bottle was an even rarer unlisted version! It was a Potter’s Pharmacy (embossed owl on mortar) 246 Cranston St. Providence, RI. The listed example has an address of 206 and a different looking owl. The 206 address was an older location than the 246.
One of my top 3 bottles from the purchase was this brand new cosmetic bottle. A Zenobia Toilet Specialties, Bronson Chemical Co. Providence, RI. This is the only cosmetic bottle of its kind from RI, and the color and shape make it exceptional.
While in poor condition, it was exciting to see an unlisted version of a Downing Brothers Druggists Newport, RI. All the listed versions are embossed B.F. Downing Jr., even though his brother worked with him for most of the duration of the company.