Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Fooling around here with the three related Cutter bottles that collectors sometimes get mixed up on. The commentary that came up on the (pre 75 gang) post got into the dates of usage of these bottles. I am not sure when they were used exactly, but we can probably get a good idea from the digging experience that our readers bring to the blog. The O.K. and A No 1 trade marks are registered with the state of California in late 1881. These bottles are in use before that date, and the O.K. Cutter long after that date. When was the beginning for the BIRD Cutter? As early as Dec. 1873 according to Thomas. I don't think they started that early, but I can't prove it positively. I have found them in towns that were at their peak in 1876-1882 time frame. What does the bird stand for? Is it in reference to the #1 grade of Cutter whiskey? Unfortunately no trade mark information is available for these bottles from the mid '70's. As 'Old Cutters' has mentioned, the archives has seen its share of interesting items disappear over the years. I want to think that there is some documentation on all three of these bottles from the mid '70s. It is not available currently, if it ever existed.

Did the O.K. Cutter(t-41) replace the Bird Cutter(t-42)? They both have the similar phrase "Cutter OK Whiskey" or "A.P. Hotaling's O.K. Cutter Whiskey" on the reverse in different patterns.

The A No 1 Cutter(t-40) is the oddball. Sure seems redundant, with all the Circle Cutters that say A No. 1 on the reverse.

Here are some picts. to check out and compare these 3 bottles.

A no 1(t-40) and Bird(t-42) from my collection.

O.K. Cutter(t-41) Aaron Hill collection.

I don't know what the bird signifies.

Probably something to do with the #1 grade of Cutter whiskey -- the O.K. Whiskey.

Here is the O.K Cutter(t-41) from Auction #47 - American Bottle Auctions. A nice example with very strong embossing. Notice how heavy the "slug"area is around the crown. I have seen some that the "slug" area is even more defined.

A No 1 Cutter - usually found in lighter amber shades and whittled. Time of usage - possibly 1876-1878 or so. ?? Later??

O.K. Cutter - Aaron's is one of the nicer examples that I have seen of the O.K. Lighter yellow amber, whittled and full of swirls.

Check out the "slug area" on this one, not nearly as pronounced. This particular O.K. has the look of the A No 1's . Did the O.K. and the A no 1 come on the scene at the same time, with the A no 1 being dropped quickly. Redundant bottle. ??

Everything is the same as the O.K., except the lettering A No 1. They are two separate molds however, the lettering slightly different.

The A No 1 crown is "slugged on", but you have to look to look close to see it. I am not sure about these marks around the crowns. A No 1's lightly "slugged", O.K.'s "heavier slug", some very heavy.

Here is the ultimate O.K. submitted by 'A.P.Hotaling'. Certainly the best color I have ever seen in one. I have seen Bird Cutters in a similar coloration, but I have not seen the A No 1 in a color like this. They seem to be in a narrower band of lighter amber to yellowish amber.

Here compared to the typical O.K..


  1. Sole Agent, One thing I've noticed thru my diggins is that the OKs in the earlier holes (late 70s - very early 80s) seem to have smaller tops and a less noticeable slug mark, sometimes even appearing "unslugged". The examples I've dug in mid to late 80s pits have that bigger top. I know, kind of a paradoxical statment, since the J.F.s with the big tops are contrary of that. I'm 100% convinced the "big top" OKs are later.
    Since the OKs had such a long run and so many were blown, the mold may have been reworked sometime, like the Jesse and the Choice Old Cabinet. I've always had a hunch there may have even been two molds on the applied top OKs.
    I'm sending you a pic of a smokin killer light olive amber broken OK we dug a few mos ago. It would've been the top example. Hope you can post it within this label somewhere. I couldnt figure out how to add a pic in the comment section?

  2. It's been my experience in digging and my opinion that the "Ano1" bottles are the earliest 1875-76, followed by the "Bird" 1876-79 and last the "O.K". 1879-1894. Could it be possible that the bird represents a crow for "Old Crow Whiskey" ??? I believe these are the only Western 5ths that use both the straight leg and curved "R" fonts together in the embossing. I also agree with AP that the tops on the older "O.K." bottles are generally smaller and the slugged crowns less pronounced. I've also noted that the older "O.K." bottles have a slightly different base that is more like some of the earlier Western 5ths.

  3. Hmm, Bird Cutter = Old Crow. Perhaps. But if we refer to the Wilmerding & Co. sign previously posted, one will note that the right barrel end on the bottom of the poster advertises Extra Old Crow Whiskey. Assuming that the Bird Cutter dates ca. 1876 - 1879, this would appear to be a duplication since the dates of distribution appear to overlap.

    And the web tangles yet further ~

  4. Trust me on this that Old Crow (a very popular bourbon)was distributed by more that one agent in the West durning the same time frame. Just a guess to an unsolved mystery that's all.

  5. Has anyone actually discovered a claim of trademarks for the "Bird" Cutter? So far, I have not found any reference to this bottle in neither the CA State Archives nor the State Library. Is this symbol really a "bird", or is it a stylized "star"? Calling it a "bird" was another SWAG by the famous author. JT, and taken for fact by the collecting community. I must admit the it more resembles a "bird" than a "star", but who really knows what was going through the mind of the maker who produced that mold. Somewhere, perhaps in the Library Of Congress, there has to be some tangible proof that this bottle was purposely designed and what the little symbol truly is.

    Speaking of "Old Crow", the A.P. Hotaling Co was also an agent for the W. A Gaines Distillery, makers of that brand, in the post-1900 years approaching Prohibition.

  6. Here's another theory on the "bird"... Could it be an eagle?? Could this bottle have been Hotaling's "victory" bottle??
    Some Milton J Hardy bottles have an eagle on them. Milton J. Hardy joined w/ E. Martin in 1873, and along with Martin, was a bitter enemy of Hotaling. Martin was defeated in court by Hotaling in 1879 and no longer allowed to sell JH Cutter Bourbon.
    With the "bird Cutter" bottle, could this have been Hotaling's way to show these guys (Hardy & Martin) he now had it all, the barrel, the crown, and the eagle (bird)?? I'll bet this "bird" bottle came out right after the court victory! After the court ruling, the Eastern guys were still using a similar bottle w/ the barrel on top. When Hotaling decided to end the "Bird Cutter" (probably about 1880-81) and devise a new bottle for the "OK Cutter" brand, he may have decided to flip the barrel back to the top, like he originally had it on the A No 1 bottle. The "Bird Cutter" in my opinion was Hotaling's most similar bottle to the Eastern Cutters. Changing to the "OK" slugged crown bottle, also made his bottles less similar to the Eastern Moorman Cutters that had their barrels on the bottom.


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