Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Whiskey prices

Don't we wish we could go back to the "good old days" when bottles were priced like this? Of course, most of us didn't have two quarters to rub together at the time, but it's fun to reminisce. This is what some western whiskey bottles were worth in 1970.Photobucket


  1. This post brought me full circle, back to the early days of my collecting. I grew up in Campbell, California, not far from where John Howe lived on Sandy Lane, in San Jose. John wrote one of the first western whiskey "wish books". It was entitled "A Whiskeyana Guide / Antique Whiskey Bottles". Many of us "old timers" recall spending hours upon hours wearing the ink off the pages of the book that he published in 1967, a year before Bill & Betty Wilson came out with their Spirits Bottles Of The Old West. Johns book had scarcity expressed simply as common, scarce, rare extremely rare, etc. , without attempting to apply the numerical equivalent that Bill & Betty did, or the dollar values that John Thomas published in his work.

    I met a whiskey man named Dave McLeod through friends of my family. Dave and his pal Dale Hoyt were close friends of John Howe's. I recall feeling like a trout who just swallowed the hook when I was invited to view each of their collections. As a high school kid, I didn't have two nickels (let alone two quarters) to rub together. I saw all three collections in the space of a week back around 1968 or '69 and boy was I ever hooked! I'd dug my first bottle, a coffin flask, back in 1966 but these fifths with the pictures and glop tops just exuded a draw that I couldn't shake. I was like a moth to a flame.

    About a year later, John Howe decided to call it quits. Dave called and asked if I wanted in. I'll never forget the prices; Tea Kettle $50~, early Cutter / Hotalings and Martins $35~ - $50~, tooled top amber Columbian $40~, an aqua Gold Dust $45~, a clear Gold Dust (he though it was rarer and since it was purple commanded top dollar) $100~, clear glop Boulevard Bourbon (not purple) $25~ etc. etc.. And then there were the flasks... No idea of rarity or value, they were in the $20~ - $30~ range.

    But, with great reluctance and no money, I let that opportunity slip away. Funny how, in retrospect, it appears that John had a form of clairvoyance. Although he didn't assign dollar values to the bottles and go withs, he had the foresight to assign comparative rarity. And oddly enough, most of his observations have stood the test of time. Except that the extremely rare Columbian he pictured in his book 40 years ago and offered to me for the princely sum of $40~, now trades in the $2000~ range...

  2. I do remember John Howe and think I still have an autographed copy of his booklet around here. He was a regular at the ancient San Jose Bottle Shows, and sometimes at the Oakland Show when it was held at the school on Fruitvale.

    I grew up in Sacramento and met him at John Fountain's original shop at 20th and O. Hail, that was in the early 1960s and I was just a teenager. We would go all crazy to dig an amber Hostetter's and any whiskey was 5 bucks.

  3. oldcutters,
    I noticed that you are using photobucket to store the images that you are posting on the site. Is there a time limit on how long they will store them? Why are they being moved or deleted? If we are going to lose these images I reckon I should be saving the ones I like?

  4. KY Gem,

    Just heard about your recent score and now your monicker makes more sense. Congrats !! Would be nice to hear the details on where and when it was found. I dont think I have that example in my tally/provenance database...


  5. The Gem came in as part of a trade with a good friend. I do not believe that it's existence had been previously documented. Because of the Gestapo mentality currently in force, courtesy of the State of Oregon, the Gems provenance should best remain undisclosed until such time as bottle collectors are declared innocent of crimes against the State...

  6. Gem

    Could you post a pic of this Gem that is "new" to the whiskey community? How does it stand-up, color-wise,and condition-wise?
    Too bad about the Nazi tactics in Oregon. We as collectors must start to be careful who we elect. Certain political parties believe that everything should be protected and owned by the govt. More and more laws, govt land-grabs under the guise of eco protection, eliminating our right to bear arms, brainwashing and scaring our students and children, and less freedom are how they define Democracy. Unfortunately, with the path that this country is headed down we are probably only one or two generations away from digging in any state becoming illegal.


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