Monday, August 31, 2009


Here are a couple of containers for Jesse Moore Old Bourbon from the Moore, Hunt Co.

As has been bantered around on this blog, Chielovich was replaced as agent for Jesse Moore Whiskies in 1875. Hunt was brought on board as a partner in 1876.

Non air vented Jesse fifth(t-94)

Jesse Moore flask(tf-32)

Dale's set of Jesse's...... NICE!

A group of non vented Jesse Moore fifths (t-94) from the
A.P. Collection. All were dug by him! The non vented variety were probably in use approx. 1876?-1878. As was commented on, notice the fairly tight color range for this fifth. Was George Moore that fussy about the bottles used for his product?

The typical glob top Jesse Moore fifth(t-94). Large blob air vent between antlers.

This is the glob fifth we all cut our teeth on. They still look pretty good to me. Nice large top, and all of that writing. Probably in use from 1879 or so through the mid-1880's.

For collectors that haven't really ever paid attention to the difference in the two varieties of the Jesse (t-94) fifth, see if you can find one of each to compare, side by side. That big air vent makes a large difference in the overall glass character of the bottle.

We need a photo of the whittly red amber version of the bottle. Anyone have a nice globby red amber?

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Here's a short bio on Hunt, the ever popular Gold Rush pioneer and merchant who nudged the Serbian immigrant, Elias Chielovich out of the Jesse Moore empire (note how Chielovich is misspelled in this bio). Also note how he used to work for E. Martin, which I'm sure made him valueable to Moore and Deweese, him knowing already how to "compete" in the West against the biggest rival of Jesse Moore Bourbon... Hotaling's JH Cutter Bourbon.
This bio is exactly as it appears in Wm F Swasey's 1891 book " The Early Days of Men in California"

The subject of this biographical sketch is a noted exception to the almost universal physical conditions denoting the argonauts of California, still in the very prime of vigorous manhood, with nothing in his manner, conversation, or action that could for a moment indicate that he was in the very front ranks with the argonauts of California, yet such is the fact. His advent in California was on the first day of April, 1849, and was the result of deliberate individual determination and desire, and he is as much entitled to the credit of being a self-designed immigrant and argonaut as if he had been forty years old instead of twelve, which was about his age.

On the roll of membership of the Society of California Pioneers of the class of 1849 there are but twenty-one members whose arrival antedates his, and but twenty-five of contemporary date, and he the youngest of them all; and he may justly claim to be the youngest real pioneer belonging to that organization, or probably in the State.

He was born in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, late in 1836, and was an only child, and a descendant of a most honorable ancestry, on the remote paternal side Scottish, and on the maternal, German; his immediate ancestors were native born. His father died while he was yet almost in his infancy. When about six years of age his widowed mother removed to New York City, where he was put to school until 1849.

When the news of the discovery of gold reached New York, his cousin, J. B. Bidleman, at once determined to seek the new El Dorado, and. by pleading and importunity by Henry, and with the reluctant consent of his mother, his cousin permitted him to accompany him. They came to California via the Isthmus of Panama. They left on the steamer Falcon, February 1, 1849. They were detained in Panama about three weeks. In wandering about that city, Mr. Bidleman found an old Spanish printing press, and he and two printers of their party obtained the press and immediately started a newspaper, naming it the Panama Star, which is still being published. Young Hunt was the only newsboy, and sold the papers on the corners of the streets as rapidly as they could be issued, at ten cents apiece, there being from fifteen hundred to two thousand American passengers detained there at that time.

They finally obtained passage on the steamer Oregon, on her first trip, and arrived in San Francisco on the first day of April, 1849, as before stated. Among their fellow-passengers were the following noted argonauts: W. M. Lent, A. K. P. Harmon, M. R. Roberts, E. B. Vreeland, Frederick Billings, and Rev. Albert Williams.
His cousin immediately established himself in the business of general merchandising, and, being very successful, he shortly after added banking. Henry continued a faithful and very material assistant to his cousin until 1851, when he returned East to complete his education. He attended the Russell's Collegiate and Commercial Institute, in New Haven, Connecticut, for two years, in which time, by his studious habits, he acquired an excellent practical business education in all the English branches. In 1854, still in his teens, he returned again to San Francisco, accompanied by his mother.

California life in those early days was full of vicissitudes, one day in wealth, the next in comparative poverty. On his return Henry found that during his absence his cousin had not been an exception to the general rule. He had met with serious reverses and was out of regular business, and young Hunt found that he must henceforth depend upon himself alone, and become the architect and builder of his future fortunes. This was all that was necessary to call into play his native attributes of determination and perseverance, which have produced the very gratifying results of to-day.

He immediately sought and obtained employment as clerk of the Orleans Hotel, in Sacramento Chy. Carefully economizing his salary, which in these days would be deemed princely, he found himself at the end of the year in possession of no inconsiderable capital, and he determined to seek and enter into some kind of business upon his own account. He accordingly went to Oroville, Butte County, in 1856, and commenced business as a merchant, dealing in every description of goods and merchandise that was demanded in the mining regi ns in those days. He was very successful and became very popular, and won an enviable reputation for integrity and probity of conduct and habits.

When the Fraser River excitement occurred, it affected the people almost as much as the original gold fever of California. Young Hunt, then but barely past his majority, and full of adventurous spirits, which his whole former life had tended to imbue him with, did not escape the infection, and he was among the first and most eager to seek the new gold-fields. But one year in those regions was sufficient to dispel all his illusions and absorb all his capital, and he was obliged to borrow enough to take him back to Oroville, where he was most heartily welcomed by his old friends and patrons. He re-established his old business and rapidly re-won his former financial standing.

In 1864 he had become so popular that he received, unsolicited, the Republican nomination for treasurer of Butte County, which office he filled for two years with credit and honor, and retired from it with the popular verdict of approval of his administration of its affairs
He shortly after removed to Sacramento City, and became attached to the wholesale house of Powers & Co., in which he continued until January 1, 1872, when he became a partner in the firm of E. Cheelsvich & Co. The firm was very successful, and he remained with them three years, when he severed his connection and removed to San Francisco.

*Shortly after his arrival in San Francisco he associated himself with E. Martin & Co. for five years and then formed a partnership with George H. Moore and C. Deweese, Jr., and established the present extensively-known firm of Moore, Hunt & Co. in the wholesale liquor business, the senior partner, Mr. Moore, residing in Louisville, Kentucky, as manager of the house there. The firm has from its beginning met with the most flattering success, and to-day stands on a par with the oldest and most substantial houses in that line of trade in the country.

In 1872, in Sierra County, near Downieville, he espoused Miss Emma Cole, his present esteemed and accomplished wife, formerly of Brooklyn, New York. They have had issue one son, and two daughters, now just verging into lovely young womanhood.

During his residence in Oroville he was captain of the Oroville Guards. He was also appointed by General Bidwell adjutant general, and became acting brigadier general of the Fifth Brigade N. G. C., during General BidwelPs absence in Congress. In a tourna- ment for target practice held in Oroville during his command, his company won the prize of $500, which they generously donated to aid in the erection of the pioneer school house, which is now one of the few landmarks left in that city.

Mr. Hunt has been both a Mason and an Odd Fellow in high standing for the last twenty-four years. He is at present a member of the Templar Lodge, No. 14, I. O. O. F., in San Francisco, and the California Lodge, No. 1, of Masons, also a Knight Templar of No. 16, including the Islam Temple of the Mystic Shrine. He is also a life member of the Society of California Pioneers. He has never been an active partisan in politics, but has always rendered a quiet allegiance to the Republican party upon national and State issues. In the War of the Rebellion he was unswerving in loyalty to the Union, and always zealous, in purse and services, in everything tending to its preservation.
Still in the very prime of physical manhood, with imposing stature denoting longevity, he bids fair to be among the very last of the remarkable characters who were the architects and builders of our glorious commonwealth. Of a genial and sympathetic nature, he has ever been quick in response to the deserving claims of charity.


* (AP's note) I would have to say this date when he was with E. Martin is wrong, as that would put the Moore-Hunt 1/5s not starting until 1880. I believe Wilson's dates of his 5 yr stint with E. Martin & Co from 1867-72 makes more sense. Even though the above article written in 1891 is more contemporary and should be the more accurate version, I think he was on board and had his name on the bottles with Moore before 1880. Could the Moore-Hunt bottles be post 1880?? What say you guys? We would need to check the Sacramento directories for the yrs 1867-72 to be sure.
Another interesting note is that Hunt Street in San Francisco is named after Henry Brown Hunt. So far, we have two whiskey merchants in S.F. (Hunt & Hotaling) w/ streets there named after them.



Time for the real Clubhouse Hall of Fame.
Oh, and congrats to the newest owner of a CCH. Dave B.
Dave lives just up the road a piece, I like to say in the Park City suburbs.

Dave, I hate to tell you this.. but guardianship of one or even two CCH fifths is not automatic inclusion to the H.O.F. Don't fret too hard, I'm out of luck as well. The member list of the CCH HOF is pretty darn short!!

President and Founder: JOHN C. MORRISON JR.

A true Argonaut, Morrison arrived in San Francisco on June 4, 1849 aboard the Steamship Panama. There were a number of soon to be important people aboard the Panama. William M. Gwin became U.S. Senator, Fred F. Low served as Governor of California, and of course most important of all was our boy Jno. C. Jr.
Morrison bounced around early San Francisco as a commission merchant and during the early 1860's he formed partnerships with several different people and operated various wholesale liquor establishments. In March of 1866 he dissolved the partnership he had with A.J. Bryant and hung out his own shingle at 614 Front St. In 1866 he registered the Dunham's Old Bourbon with the State of California. Later he trademarked 4 other brands with the State. His "Stag Whiskey" is the brand most often seen in advertising. It was registered on March 8, 1870. By this time Morrison was located at 316 Sac. Street.
On June 21, 1872 Morrison trademarked the Club House Whiskey brand.
J.C. Jr. also had a risk taking appetite for mining stocks. It got him into trouble in the 1860s but in the 1870's he hit it big. VERY BIG! He was a major owner of stock in the fabulous Consolidated Virginia and California mines in Virgina City, Nevada. Morrison invested $269,000 of his own funds in the development of the Dividend Block on the north side of Pine Street.
He is listed as a liquor dealer at the 316 Sac. St. address through 1878, however his obituary states that he joined the firm of Moon, Scalley & Co. in 1873. After 1877 his is simply listed as a "capitalist". A man with money! He had a love for horses, particularly Roadster horses. He died May 17, 1881 at the age of 58.
Interesting sidebar, on Jun 4, 1874, they held a 25 year reunion honoring the Pioneer Steamship Panama passengers. There were 23 former passengers in attendance at the gala event held at the Grand Hotel. Gwin and Low were there, along with the pomp and ceremony politicians love to surround themselves with. But we all know now who would someday be the most famous person to attend. Besides, he probably brought the booze.

Secretary and Publicity Manager: JOHN L. THOMAS

John Thomas, whiskey bottle historian. Author of several books on western whiskey bottles including the standard work WHISKEY BOTTLES OF THE OLD WEST first written in 1969 and updated in 2002.
John's favorite old glob was undoubtedly the Clubhouse. He owned two of them over the years and possibly guided others to top collections of his era. He has been accused of promoting the Clubhouse a bit too much and helping it along to it's status of the #1 fifth. Maybe, I believe it can pretty well stand on its own with most collectors.
It does have one grievous problem, that holds it back just a bit with some old school collectors... The words SOLE AGENTS do not appear on the fifth. Sorry John, but they don't!!!


Saline Valley. One of the great digging stories of all time is attached to this beautiful example. Even reported in the Old Bottle Magazine in 1971 I think. Paul Bagwell and wife June were another bottle digging couple in the Bishop, Ca. area. Paul dug a number of good bottles, Eastern California was 'good ground' if you collected whiskey bottles. He liked to scout out areas off the beaten path, particularly small "charcoal burner" camps. I have been told that Paul liked to identify likely spots on the mountain side by the glint of broken glass in the sunlight. He would drive as close as he could and hike in the rest of the way. Sometimes a narrow wagon road or mule trail might lead into these small camps. The silver/lead ore of the area demanded a huge amount of charcoal for smelting purposes. Small two or three man charcoal burner camps dot the mountain sides near the mining regions. These burner camps were usually only manned for a few weeks, then the burners moved on to find more wood to burn.
Paul and June drove to a camp he had spotted one morning in 1971. Just another small camp that might have a few bottles, probably all broken in the rocks on that steep mountainside. He was digging away in the the trash layer in and around the burners flat and not finding much. He mentions in the article that he found several stemless pipe bowls with the initials P.B. on them. Hmmn, good luck maybe. No bottles coming out. June spent an hour or so enjoying the clear view down on the valley. Read a little from a book she brought along, had a bite to eat. Went for a little hike down the hill.

"Paul, are you finding anything?"

"Not a thing, not much here. Maybe we should try somewhere else."

"Paul, I found a bottle ....."

"What did you find, dear?"

"Oh,  this green whiskey bottle that was stuck in that big sagebrush down below the flat."

"Green whiskey bottle, ok dear, does it say anything on it..."

"Paul, here, look at it, it says California Club H..."

"What! - - @^#%@&@##$#@#@##!!!!!!!!!"

The scene could never be effectively put to story. It would have been a sight to see. I have been told that for a few days Paul thought he had been "had" "duped" with a fake bottle,  someone had put June up to the big scam. Nope, it was the real deal! A survivor! A charmed bottle! Stuck in the brush on that steep mountainside.
Just a few years later Paul died of cancer. The bottle was purchased by M. Boone, a high flying bottle promoter of the day from Las Vegas. Booner was the king of whiskeys for a minute or two, then flamed out and sold out. He had just sold the Club House and a few other bottles when his place caught fire and burned to the ground! Everything in it was lost, including quite a few good glob top whiskey bottles. The 'charmed bottle' was long gone! Safe in the hands of another collector.

Beer label town. Lou and Dorthy were involved with the Bishop Bottle Club. They were fairly green as to digging, and sought the advice of some of the early Bishop club members. Adele Reed and others.   The many towns around Beer label town had been dug pretty hard, even by the early '60s. Beer label town had not. It was a tough town... flash flood central. Holes were very hard to locate. Lou figured it out, and absolutely loaded up on fifths. err-beers. When word of the Club House came out, they were inundated with offers. Dorthy was very opinionated, she hated waking up and finding Thomas and his little VW in the driveway. Doc. Rittenhouse, so on, all the players of the era gave her heartburn.  She hit it off with Allen Wilson. Allen traded them some very nice bottles, figural bitters, for the Club House. I have spoken at length with Lou and Dorthy, and they always felt good about the deal they made with the Club House. Allen was excited to go to Bishop and pick up the bottle. He told me he got there the same time as Lou and Dorthy were coming home from a dig. Lou opened the garage door, and brought in a couple of bottle boxes from that days dig. In the corner of the garage, on the cement floor, was a line of bottles that were still dirty - some with remnants of ghost labels. Embossed fifths, Blakes, Cutters, McKennas, and more than one of each! The amber fifths didn't warrant a cleaning I guess, green ones only need apply. Allen told me he nearly sh-- his pants when they reached into the boxes of that days dig and added three more embossed fifths, err beers, to the dirty line up. Lou and Dorthy have been gone for a number of years, wonderful people!

The postman rings twice. Boraxburg is located pretty close to beer label town. The origination or historical context of the clubhouses are completely different. The famous bourbon was actually sold and consumed in Borax in 1873/74, Morrison actually had a saloon there that he supplied as was the custom of several of the early S.F. wholesalers.  Several other broken ones have been found here. Beer label clubhouses were filled with beer from Boca Brewery, other breweries. Empty bottles were in high demand as the bottled beer industry took off in the late 1870's. Empty whiskey bottles were a perfect container for the beer. Bottles from defunct companies, partnerships etc. found their way to bottle recyclers and then to breweries begging for anything that would hold beer, then shipped into the notorious beer label town, and other towns.
Back to the postman - - - the old story was, that Frank led a group of diggers from the Reno Club into Boraxburg in 1970. A club dig as it were. After an hour of digging, the Club dig was over for Frank, he had two of them. I spoke with a early collector that knew Frank well and he told me that the story was total B.S. He said Frank was "an 'ornry old coot and wouldn't want to baby sit no bottle club diggers". He sounds like his old friend from Utah, Irlam B. Owen. I believe A.P. interviewed Frank back in 1997 or so, he might have the rest of the story. He was a postman.

Sell a house, buy a boat. Do you know the way to San Jose? Darrell kept his Club House longer than any finder. I had a visit with him at the National Show in Pomona. He had spent the spring fishing in Mexico. Nice! Still digs like a steam shovel.

Is there a nicer guy around. Think Reno Show and I think Don and Bonnie McClane. Don dug his in 1964. It later went to bottle dealer Eugene Fachin, then possibly to Bill Wilson, then to Doc Ritz, and finally to Robert Frank. Don told me that it came out of a deep 10ft privy.  Two bottles in that big hole. A little unembossed blue med, and the CH.

Took 3 sets of hands to hoist A.P.'s Three diggers partnered up on this find in the early 1980's. A J.F. Cutter fifth was found right along side the CHouse. A.P. has been back to the exact spot, but all that was left were some 1920's bottles and trash.

Phil's finder. This bottle has been in captivity for a very long time. 'Al' has passed away years ago. Phil has the name, but 'AL' works for me. Check out the post titled "THE CLUB HOUSE CLUB" for the crazy story on this one.

We have two additional slots saved for -
1. S.F. construction site digger/finder - Bob Shaw / Louie P. example
2. Mystery man that found the last one - Anderson /Bray /Frank / Bone example


one Honorary Membership to the CLUB HOUSE HALL OF FAME
goes to-

Owning two won't get you in, but having three different Club House fifths in your collection will.
They were not all there at the same time, but both green examples were there, one since has left. Later, the amber example dug by Darrell D. entered the Schwartz collection.

That is the total membership!
Quite an elite group. Go out and make digging history!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I have to admit, that one of my favorite old glob fifths is the J.MOORE(t-90). The E. Chielovich J. Moore. This is a great looking early fifth, that comes in a royal flush of colors, and they are usually very crude. There are enough of them around that a collector can hope to own one, and heaven forbid, maybe even dig one.

It has been stated in past publications that George H. Moore (actually a nephew of Jesse Moore) sent his hit man, and brother in law, Cornelius Deweese, to San Francisco to increase the sales of the popular Jesse Moore Old Bourbon. ( Hey Elias, don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out).

After reading an article published by Gordon E. White, great grandson of Jesse Moore, it seems like there is a slightly different story to be told.

Mr. White reports that G.H. Moore went to San Francisco in 1875 to check on the business and found salesman Henry B. Hunt to be the better man, turned the management of the agency over to him, and it was Moore that gave E. Chielovich the boot. Deweese came in a bit later in 1875 to oversee the agency. They took Hunt on as a partner in 1876 and that partnership took over the distribution of Jesse Moore whiskies out of San Francisco. Deweese, the silent partner and overseer, stayed in San Francisco until 1887

Henry B. Hunt sounds like an interesting fellow, read the clip from Wilson's Spirits of the old West. He certainly found favor quickly with G.H. Moore. I guess "upwardly mobile" is the present definition for a brown nosing, back stabbing salesman, that gets his boss canned and takes over his job. Who cares if he did such a great job!! Sorry, I like ol' Chielovich. I hardly know a thing about him, but what's not to like. I guess it's that bottle!! WOW! It must be that pre-1875 thing again.

Ol' Elia Chielovich really did try to do a decent job. I have found his name mentioned as a saloon proprietor/owner in several early Nevada boom towns. That seemed to be his gimmick, he went to Hamilton and to Pioche and probably other Nevada towns and opened saloons that gave him a retail outlet for his J. Moore whiskey. He must have had a presence in or around Columbus or Teels Marsh, as his fifth is prevalent in this area as well. Austin, Nv. is J. Moore country, and of course Virginia/Gold Hill... major J. Moore country. Sprucemont, Nevada, another early town, is littered with broken J. Moores. I guess this saloon thing was not uncommon. Our man Jno. C. Morrison had a saloon on Main Street -Columbus. In case you wondered how those Clubhouses got there.

J. Moores are widely found in Utah. There has been a long standing story that 5 whole J. Moores came out of construction site in Salt Lake in the 1960's. They were dispersed by a local bottle dealer. There have been quite a few broken ones found in Alta, Utah. Southern Utah produced several broken ones and a beautiful mint greenish amber example. One whole one and a pile of broken ones were found in the northwest part of the state. S.L. Tibbles, a saloon operator and liquor dealer in the 'Hell on wheels" town of Corinne advertised J. Moore whiskey in 1872-1873. William Driver, a druggist from Ogden, Utah, had shipments of product from Chielovich in 1875. That 7 year old bourbon would certainly be a good cure for 'stiff elbow'.

I can't begin to acknowledge all of the California locations that J. Moores have been located. Or if they have been found in Oregon. My point here being, if Chielovich did such a bad job of distributing, they sure seem to be all over the west. I think he got "nudged" out just before the brand really took off. "Thanks for all your hard work, see you around".

Pioche was a rollicking town in 1872. The Cosmopolitan Saloon is advertising J. Moore in Oct. of 1872. Elia was having a bit of trouble with his lot on Main Street. Guess he got it worked out, his is listed as a saloon operator in 1873.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Shows and Events - Utah Collectors

Shows and Events - Utah Collectors: "Salt Lake City Antique Bottle and Collectible Show and Sale

Utah Antique BottleShow and Sale.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Redwood Multipurpose Center,3100 S Redwood Rd,Salt Lake City, Utah.
For info contact:Bob Campbell
1123 E 2100S
SLC, UT 84106

Here is the show information for the 2009 version of the Utah Bottle and Collectibles Show.

It is a very small show, but has been ongoing for upwards of 40 years. We don't have an official bottle club in Utah, but the "bottle hobby" is alive and well in the Salt Lake area. Most recently the bottle show has been put on by the "Utah Collectors" group. Check out their webpage: Not Bad!!

If you are in the area ?? stop in and say hello. I know there are at least a 8-10 glob top collectors from Utah that are following this blog... part of the vast silent majority. I can guarantee you that there will be at least two tables at the show that will have fifths for sale. Plus all the stories, information, and other nonsense us glob collectors love to distribute.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What's the "oldest" whiskey bottle in your collection?

Not what you thought, right.? How many of you were thinking, "ok... I dont have a pontiled whiskey"? haha.
I thought it would be fun for us collectors to reflect back on the glob top fifths and flasks that are currently in our collections and make two determinations....... First off, what is your fifth or flask that you currently own and have had for the longest time ??(doesnt matter if you bought, traded, or dug it). How long have you had it?

Second, if you dug a fifth or flask and still have it, which dug-bottle have you had the longest? How long, and why do you still have them??

Don't be afraid if it makes you feel as old as some as your bottles, that's not the intention here !The idea is to see why each of us has kept certain bottles longer than others, to reflect back,and also to kind of jog your memory to enjoy the reasons why, or how we acquired our "oldest" bottles.


Monday, August 17, 2009


Like Andrew has so perfectly stated, any embossed '70s glob fifth is a thrill to dig.

This Circle is coming out of a shallow pit in a S. Utah mining camp. It was the first bottle in view and I was a little too excited, yanked it before realizing it was surrounded by other bottles. Would have made a great "context" picture.

Hard to believe that the darkish looking fifth in the shadows of the hole, turned out to be the one on the right and "better than just amber".

That is worth a flutter, getting that first glimpse of green when you were just expecting... well, I don't know what to expect. My heart is usually racing full limit when I pull a glob fifth or flask and realize it is intact.

This is a great hobby, keep the pictures and posts coming.

Please, sign on as a follower, and even better sign up as an author... lets hear about some of those fifths and flasks that have not made their way onto the blog.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I will wait for a week or so to post my Hall of Fame list for the Club House.
These two are not on it! Wait, A.P., did one of these guys dig your 'House'?

I believe CCH burnout maybe causing some frayed nerves....
Time to relax and take it easy.

Dude ... there's some good shit on this blog...


Here is a nice set of Shoulder Crowns sent in by George Bryant.

Both Martin variants: no reverse circle(t-48) and reverse circle(t-48a).

Hotaling shoulder crown(t-47).

George was asking about the jewels on the crown. The crowns on the Martin fifths don't show those little bumps or jewels as we like to call them. No jewels for that crappy Cincinnati whiskey I guess....

Poor Martin, gets no respect from the Hotaling fifth crowd. Should have stuck to Millers and Star in Shield.

That early Martin (t-48) is still a pretty tough bottle to locate. Completely different mold than the (t-48a), larger bottle.

CIRCLE CUTTER'S The High Cost of Exposure

Since the Whiskey blog came online back in January of this year I have been wondering how much effect it would have on the value of the western fifth. By that statement I mean will all the hype and discussions about certain whiskies make them more desirable and thus more valuable?

Seems to me that question is being answered almost daily on ebay. Take for example the Circle Cutter (Thomas 43) that just closed on ebay last week. Described as "real nice olive amber colored glass" and "There's a lot of green in this one boys" sold for a whopping $496.00.

That's, in my opinion, about $300 more then it would have sold for before January of this year.

Do ya think the old whiskey blog influenced the price of that "olive" fifth?

Also on ebay this week is a Teakettle fifth with a starting price of $850.00. The Teakettle is one of the most desirable "common" western fifths out there and this example has yet to receive a bid. Teakettle's, right now at shows, are being offered in the $800 - $1500 range, depending on crudity. Why hasn't this bottle received a bid? The seller says it has "a pinpoint size stone with 2 microscopic tails". I for one, do not believe that this manufacturing flaw is the reason it doesn't have an opening bid. Heck, the Teakettle has yet to be posted or discussed on the WESTERN GLOB TOP WHISKEY site. All it would take is just a small post on the site and a few comments and this bottle could go through the roof.

Another Circle Cutter listed on the bay (Thomas 44?) closing on Monday the 16th is sitting at $185. Described as "Killer Light Honey-Amber Color with some nice transitional shades of medium to light amber throughout (as seen in the pictures). Decent whittle, solid strike, crude mold seams, and a nice overall example of sparklematic Western-blown glass! Nice applied top featuring a crude dip in the glass along the top of the ridge". With a day left of bidding I would imagine this bottle will go way over $200.

The only thing that bothers me about this bottle is the palm trees in the background. For some reason my mind does not put together the old wild west whiskey fifths with palm trees. I know, its me, but I just can't get by this.

And then there is The Bottle Vault. A Circle Cutter ( Thomas ?) he had listed on ebay just sold to some gambler for a hefty $260. His pictures and description of the bottle left a little to be desired: "You are bidding on an old and authentic nice amber glass handblown Gloppy Top J. H. CUTTER OLD BOURBON whiskey bottle, from A P HOTALING & CO SOLE AGENTS (of SF CAL). This classic Western Whiskey bottle stands 12" high". No mention if its a 2 or 4 piece mold or if it has A No1 on the reverse. Pretty sketchy description for this old collector to lay out $260.
If you are looking for that special western fifth its time to bite the bullet and shell out the cash. Waiting until after it hits the whiskey blog, as a post, is only going to cost you more of your hard earned money. "There's a lot of green in this one boys"

Friday, August 14, 2009


Here is one member of the California Club House Club - and the story of his bottle.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


The big kahuna, California Clubhouse(t-119) was available for collectors to inspect at the Pomona show. I availed myself for a cursory inspection. There has been quite a bit of back and forth on this site in regards to the Clubhouse.

Just the facts:

This is the darkest example of the known Clubhouse fifths.

There are 10 known Clubhouse fifths, 9 intact - 1 with a repaired neck.

This was the last one found, 2002? Marin County redwood tree find??. It is not the one found in Virginia City- 1964, later owned by Doc. Ritz and currently still owned by Robert F.

The bottle is mint. There is not a "whack in the side" as I heard someone mention at the National.

Other relevant information?

When viewing the pictures of the bottle I suspected that it has been lightly cleaned, kinda had that mirror look. After holding the bottle I am not sure. Some character is evident on the glass surface that may have been removed with a "tumbling". If it has been cleaned, it has been done very lightly, and probably by hand.

Did not see any distractions other than a very light scratch on one side. No fleabites, potstones, really no excuses at all.... except that it is darker amber and has no whittle.

Check out the video at American Bottle Auctions bid site -- and good luck.


Just a quick mention of Lot #98 the Old Bourbon Castle Whiskey(t-22). This appears to be a decent example of this bottle, this bottle is often found with a very strong strike and good whittle. Again, check out the video and description on the American Bottle Auction site (see our links).

Just as a correction to the printed catalog, it is listed as an "A.T." or an applied top. I see that the catalog is using the initials a.t. or t.t. -- tooled top. Over the years collectors have identified these as T.T.T. or transitional tooled tops. The Auction has corrected the 'top description' on the web site description.

This bottle is found with a true applied glob top, but they are not common.

I'm not trying to nit-pik the Auction, but I want everyone to be aware of differences. I wish the true glob Castle(t-22) had as good of a strike as the "transitional". The Auction price estimates are certainly in line with the historical price the "transitional" has sold for. I guess you could expect to pay more for a true glob top.


Here is a quick mention of an interesting fifth in American Bottle Auctions upcoming auction.

Lot #92 is a bottle that blog readers have commented on several times, the "fat boy" J.F. Cutter or as it is identified in Thomas as the 'variant 1' J.F. Star in Shield.

This appears to be a good example of this variant, with that monster barrel top and overall crudeness you could expect on a very early fifth. I had hoped to get a good look at the bottle in Pomona, but it was not part of the group that was there to be viewed. Look at the video at the auction site (see link in Our Favorite Sites) to see if the damage near the lip is significant in your collecting viewpoint. I think the written and verbal description from the auction house gives you a good idea of the basic desirability of the var. 1 J.F.'s. They are sometimes very crudely made, and even to someone that handles many whiskey bottles each year, the overall look of this bottle makes it appear to be much older (60's)? than other applied top fifths.
Darker amber is typical for this fifth, recently I have seen at least one in a bit lighter shade of old amber. Green examples are known, but are extremely rare.

Attached a couple of pages of patent information, the J.F. Cutter Star in Shield design was registered in California in Apr. of 1870. The application to the U.S. Patent Office was submitted in Jan. of 1871 and claims the trademark had been in use for 6 months.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Western 5th Dig

It was almost 20 years ago when I dug this bottle. It
came from an area where I had accessed all but one
70s house on the entire block (14 yards) over a two
year period. The one place I tried for over a year to
get into sat in the middle of the block, it was a
large two story Italianate rental. Each time I asked
it was the same story from the renters; "You'll have
to talk to the property management Co." I was hoping
over time I'd get a loose tenant permission but it
wasn't happening and my patience was running out.
Being in this yard was key because it contained
access to a back property line for a house facing the
opposite direction and two side properties only
accessible from this one yard and all from the 1870s.
Back in those days there were so many un-dug yards
and permissions so easy to get that rarely would I go
far out of my way for a permission. With fewer &
fewer places left to search I ended up one day going
in to see the owner of the management company and ask
about a little recreational privy digging. The owner
turned out to be totally cool guy and the bonus was
he liked bottles. Permission was granted so we
started in. We dug there for a full week and got 7
holes for three different properties. After a couple
of days it started feeling like a job where we'd
arrive by 8 in the morning and work all day for an
entire week. On the last day my buddy Jack was in a
hole digging and I was on top being rather bored by
not doing anything. I decided I'd take my 8' probe
and shove it down all my 6' probe holes I made
angling under the back property earlier. On about the
third shot it was; snap, pop, pow, a deep one under
the back neighbors fence where the trash started at a
little over 6'. There was an area between the fence
and a slab just wide enough to pull a bucket through
but it was also 8' deep and 6' under to the goods. My
friend Jack asked: "How in the hell are we going to
dig that one?" and I said "Just as long as you can
pull buckets we're going to get er done". Down we
went 8' and then started going under. At about 3' in
I hit a big clunk, it was a very nice crude old
circle Cutter in a deep amber color with a huge top,
first bottle.

The hole ended up producing 20 whole
embossed early 70s 5ths and 29 early blob sodas.
There were dozens of busted 5ths and sodas in the
hole. It almost appeared that the guy that consumed
the stuff was mixing the soda with the bourbon. The
hole ended up producing 14 circle Cutters, 1 John
Gold Dust, 2 Mid Crown Cutters, 2 Shoulder Crown
Cutters & 1 S.H.M. What a friggin great hole it was.

Intrigued by the volume and quality of the bottles I
researched the property and found out the town Judge
had resided here some 110 years earlier. Out of the
14 circle Cutters 9 were dead mint. They ranged in
colors from light amber to dark and one was olive. I
sold the olive one like a dumb shit because I was
digging so many bottles back in those days it felt
like it would last forever.
A friend of mine
purchased the olive colored bottle and recently
brought it to me to run on eBay for him. It's
currently listed and ends on 8/12 if you'd like to
have a better look at it, item #270438875628.
She's a beauty!

Another Crown...........

How many curved R circle Cutters are out there, over 400 ??? I know Ken dug a pit with a large number of applied Circles, but I don't know how old they were.

How about starting a series of posts with digging photos of 5ths in 'the layer'..................

Thursday, August 6, 2009

2009 Pomona National Show

Hi All, I personally had a Great time at the National Show. Good Job LA Club. I sold very well, bought some fun stuff for the collection and a few trinkets for resale. I had a Good Time. It was Great to see a lot of my friends that I don't normally get to see unless I travel North. I also got to hang out with all my down on the border Dago buddies. I enjoyed the Displays, I know my buddy Terry put in a lot of work on his demi jon display, he won an award, that was pretty Kool, the Rest In Pieces display was Great again, I enjoyed it at the Dago Show in June, looked like they added some great criers to it this time. I should have added the Jewel Bitters I dug to it, top was half gone. The only real downers to the show for me feet hurt from standing on the concrete for 2 days and it was freaken Hot the first day. I also heard more glass breaking than I have heard at all the shows I have gone to put together, it sounded like a war a couple of times. I saw a lot of Great Glass for sale, this year I was on a low budget so I didn't spend much. I saw a Mid Crown E. Martin Cutter that was probably the best one I have ever seen, very crude, and a top of the shelf Miller's Flask (Large Circle) design, also just hammered. Both sold in a private sale at the show, both very impressive. One of my friends who wishes to remain nameless picked up a nice green IXL, good color and some good crudeness to the glass. As I read in a previous post, the fifths were present, I saw some nice globby fifths and some tough toolies too. The trouble is I have seen some of these Whiskies at shows for a long time with the same high prices on them, guess what, they ain't selling, lower the prices maybe? I know to make a few hard sells I dropped my duckets so I could fill me wallet, I was successful. On Los Angeles or Hell A as we like to call it, No Big Deal My Man, you drive like there is No Tomorrow, Watch what colors you are wearing, Don't dress like a gangster, and NO EYE CONTACT. Yeah the trip home back to the border was good, hardly any traffic, we made good time, the only thing that bothered me was when we were passing through San Berdoo and Riverskid or Riverside, you could not see a 1/2 mile off the side of the freeway cause of the mustard gray smog that is always present. Baaaahhhhhhh. See you in Auburn in December. By the way I am always looking for colored Jamaica Gingers and any Wild Western Hall bottles, and of course San Diego Bottles :c) Dr.Barnes

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Mini National Show Report

I'll leave the 'Official Report' on the National Show to our Blog Master....But here's a quick rundown and analysis from a dealer/buyer in the field....

There were some great displays at the show: George Washington Historical flasks, unembossed colored Western bottles, hutch sodas from the various U.S. States, Demijohns and Carboys, Indian wicker-wrapped bottles, and a "crier" display that I took part in (along with some key pieces of glass from Super-digger/collectors, Lawson & Quinn).

Here's a quick rundown of just a handful of the whiskies I saw offered up for sale. I am going to do my best to indicate what the following bottles were listed for, and if I happened to notice them sell, what they sold for. I will ask you all to not take the following information as 100% fact, but simply one man's account of just some of the whiskey offerings at the Pomona Show:

(9) J.F. Cutter Star-Shield Fifths:
$2,250 -- Green-yellow, Variant 3 or 4, flash in top, smoothed-out open bubble on front
$450 -- Olive, excellent charcter and large top, Variant 3, (SOLD for $450)
$375 -- Olive-amber, Variant 3, (SOLD for $350)
$375 -- Apricot-red-amber, Variant 3, (SOLD for $350)
$350 -- Olive-amber, Variant 3, (SOLD for $350)
$350 -- Light Old-amber, Variant 4, TRADED for a medium-amber J. Moore w/ a repaired top.
$275 -- Variant 4, amber, no sale data
$250 -- Variant 4, amber, no sale data
$235 -- Variant 4, amber, no slae data
(4) Aqua Gold Dust Fifths:
All appeared to be damage free, fairly decent to good examples, but I didn't notice any of them actually selling.
(3) Choice Old Cabinet Fifths:
$2,750 (dark amber)
$2,200 (light amber)
$2,200 (killer yellow one with minor flash in base)
I did not see any of them sell.
(3) Tea Kettle Ffiths:
$2,100 (Killer example with solid strike in yellow coloration)
$1,600 (nice dark-amber example with excellent strike and huge top) -- ended up selling/part of a multi-bottle trade.
$1,250 (dark-amber example with average strike)
(4) AAA Old Valley Flasks:
$2,500: Light orange-yellow, typical weak strike for such a light color
$1,800: Medium old-amber, good character, mint
$1,600: Medium old-amber, good character, near mint, ice-pick crush on inside of lip
$12,50: amber with suspicious indentation on base
(2) Renz's Blackberry Brandy Fifths:
$4,000 (Yellow)
$3,000 (amber)
(1) Lilienthal Banded Distillers: $375 (1/2 Pint flask, light orange colroation, crude tooled-top)
(1) Lilienthal Banded: $1,400 (amber w/ flake, smooth chip on base)
(1) Lilienthal Coffin Distillers: $3,500 (Pint, amber, sparkle-matic glass)
(1) Durham Whiskey: $825 (Eastern variant w/ foot, whittle w/ typical scratching and wear)
(1) J.H. Cutter Mid-Crown E. Martin Fifth: $850 (Medium-amber, good whittle)
(1) J.H. Cutter Shoulder Crown E. Martin Fifth: $1,600 (amber)
(1) J.H. Cutter Shoulder Crown E. Martin Fifth (no embossing on reverse): $3,500 (amber)
(1) J.H. Cutter Shoulder Crown Hotaling Fifth: $2,200 (amber, very minor inside lip bruise)
(1) J.H. Cutter Shoulder Crown Hotaling Flask: $7,000 (light amber, good strike)]
(1) O.K. Old Castle Fifth: $900 (Medium amber, crisp strike, good character)
(1) OPS: $1450 (light orange-amber, crude transitional tooled-top, unimproveable strike)

Once again, these are just a few of my simple observations from the show. I can think of about two to three times this many whiskies that I saw for sale, but I am not going to beat a dead horse here. To be honest, I can't really remember what they were all priced for, what the full damage-inspection report is, and which ones traveled back home with the dealer or with a proud new owner. To put it simply, it seemd that about upwards of 85% or more of the whiskies did not sell. Many of these were familiar bottles with the same price tags, with a few fresh ones still managing to surface.

I did see two J.F. Star Shield flasks and a Miller's flask....all three had damage or I really don't care to go into detail on what they were priced for or what the degree of damage(s) were....

If you didn't go, I believe you certainly missed out! I can understand the Early Bird fee seemed a bit steep to some (plus travel & lodging arrangements)....but this kind of show only comes around every two years....and who knows when the next one will be staged in SoCal?? I hope to see those of you who didn't attend the Pomona show at the Downieville, Santa Rosa, or the Auburn show(s)!

Monday, August 3, 2009


Here is an interesting piece that John O'Neill found while browsing the isles at the National. I tried to get a couple of quick picts of it, but it will have to be cleaned up a bit to get a full look at the lettering. That crown is interesting! The 1866 date that is visible relates to a brand that Morrison registered with the State of California on Sep. 10th, 1866. Simply called OLD BOURBON - FROM DUNHAM'S DISTILLERY - LOUISVILLE, KY

There 614 Front Street is his earlier address, moved in 1870 I believe. If you look closely you can make out something about "STATE" and "SACRAMENTO" around the top. Need to look at this again.

Here is Morrison's application filed with the State of California
in 1866 for Dunham's.

Lots of swirls and twirls around Morrison's signature, always
wondered if this document is in ol' Jno. C's handwriting. The signature appears to be from the same person that penned the